Camino Society Photo Exhibition – Picture Perfect!

For the last number of the months, the Camino Society of Ireland has been promoting their inaugural photo contest. People from all around the world have been submitting photos of their time on the Camino. There were a number of categories and prizes for each category. All in all, just over 300 photographs were received from photos of rising suns to delicious tapas. As a volunteer of the Society, I was on hand in the morning to put the final touches in place. Getting up was a struggle however as I had a night on on Friday. We were all set up at St. James’ Parish Hall for 11am and after a minor setback with blue tack (my fault!) there were 45 photographs ready and on display. Some were truly exceptional.


A solitary arrow at St. James Church in Dublin

The winners were chosen by independent photographers with excellent credentials. While none of my submitted entries were marked as winning, I had one photo down for display for the day. A surprise! And it was none other than the photo taken just before Ledigos with my good friend June last September (below). I often wonder who takes the time to put together these waymarks, stone by stone. I remember that day so well.


First prize overall went to Andrew Suzuki from Australia who has a YouTube channel Beyond The Way. Of course, he was not there to accept his prize or talk about his photo, but many others were. I met new faces also – folks who had been on the Camino Portuguese. I had many questions, but little time. My personal favourite was one which was taken between O Cebreiro and Triacastela (below). It is like the sun was shining a ray of light on the couple walking ahead of the photographer. Magic.


It’s a joy to look at various pictures from the Camino but when you hear someone talk about why they took it or the story behind it, that’s special. The photos will be displayed on the Camino Society instagram account over the next few months so I would suggest you subscribe. I’d like to thank Oihana and all the team for putting the Photo Contest together from scratch. I look forward to the next event.


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The other side of the coin…

I think it’s time to park the Camino to one side and get on with my so called life. It has been a week since I touched down in Dublin and 8 days since I said goodbye to my Camino buds. They are pretty close to Santiago at this stage, under the 50km mark, and you don’t know what I’d do to be walking under the arch into the Praza do Obradoiro.

I have decided on next year however. The plan is to walk from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago. 30 days. 800km. I have well and truly caught the Camino bug. Next year will be my 4th year in a row being in Northern Spain. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.

But that’s next year and that’s why I am parking the bus now. I have a lot of other things to concentrate on and dreaming of a return to the Camino is not one of them.


I have four things going on at the moment..each in my mind at one point of the day. The thing is, I don’t know what is priority. Maybe you guys can help:

Firstly, I have had a mortgage approved (go me!) and have started to browse some local properties. Some interest me, most don’t…but I have given this a considerable amount of time. I hope to have this wrapped up before February or March.

Secondly, I have been given a transfer to another section within my company. This is a whole new ball game for me and is a challenge, but with time, I should be comfortable with it.

Next, I have signed up for a resit of my life assurance exam in January..two months away..and I just can’t fail this again. But at the same time, I can’t get complacent like I usually get.

And finally, I am planning a return to the Camino de Santiago in May 2013. Another 300km and would like to use this as a reward for achieving all the above. This is taking most of my time though!

Some one said to me to concentrate on one..get it sorted and when it has been finished or out of the way, then I should work on the next goal. That’s a good way to be, because at the moment I am juggling all of the above and not giving any the time they deserve.

Camino de Santiago 2012 – Day Three

Day Three – 25th May 2012 – El Ganso is really a town!
Astorga – Rabanal del Camino

(Feb 2013: As this is the most viewed webpage on my blog, I thought I should say hi if you are passing by. Why not follow my blog as I do plan on writing more Camino related articles before my return to Spain in May)

5.30am. I hear footsteps, plastic bags and rumaging. I wake up with the noise of creaking floorboards. It is futile trying to sleep again, so I get up and head out! I quickly learn that this is routine in the majority of albergues along the Camino.

I leave close to 7am and said goodbye to the Cathedral standing tall beside the Albergue. The sun was rising and it looked great out there. The temperature was picking up so I wanted to finish up before it got too warm. I said goodbye to Astorga and moved on, pack on bag. My feet were fine so I was delighted with that. I had intended to walk alone for the day and take everything in and that happened at the start of the morning.


Once I left Astorga, I was walking mostly on side roads, gravel tracks with golden fields around me. The skies were blue for the whole day and it felt great. I didn’t want to be anywhere else. I had walked 5km or so before I reached Murias de Rechivaldo, a small hamlet with not much happening here. After a quick pit stop, I moved on. There were plenty of people on the camino this morning. I wondered to myself what it would be like in Sarria which is the favoured starting point. I was walking mostly on flat ground this day and the only thing that bothered me was the heat. For an Irishman, 35c is not something you get everyday but I enjoyed it.

An hour or so on, I met a Spanish girl from Barcelona. Maura was her name and she was the first people I stopped to talk to that day. She was walking at the same pace as me so I asked if I could tag along. We talked about everything to do with the Camino, why we are doing it, where did we both start and where are we both finishing. She had great English too. We stopped off in Santa Cataline de Somoza for some “breakfast”. Another cafe con leche later, we moved on. Before I left, I met two guys from the States, who had stayed in the Albergue in Astorga. We said hi and gave out about the floorboards before I left them at the cafe. Santa Catalina is a small hamlet, it holds a church, a number of cafes and bars and is fairly typical of the villages I would pass through. Very quiet and sleepy.

As the day went by, and after myself and Maura passed through El Ganso, we parted ways wishing each other a Buen Camino. I had not met anyone from the UK or Ireland at this stage although both Rosa and Maura met a few Irish guys early on in the trail. I thought it was strange but I’m sure I would meet me as I come closer to Sarria.

I walked alone from then on, listening to music and taking in the scenery around me. It was close to 10.30 at this stage and for the first time, it got very steep. The last 4 kms into Rabanal was all uphill and was the first test on my legs. Eventually I arrived at Rabanal del Camino after 11.30 and decided to stay in Albergue NS de Pillar. It was impossible to find but I got there in the end. €5 for the and chearful and already much better than my stay in Astorga. Rabanal was probably the most picturesque village I had come across.

Small, and close knit. I found a spot who serves a pilgrim meal, took a wander around and planned for the next morning.

I get talking to John from Denmark who was on the Camino for his third time. A true gent. He had strong views on the EU but I was eager to change the subject. He had great tips on how to treat blisters too, rather than using Compeed. Would have been nice to see him later on in the week when I had a few. In Rabanal I had no blisters but sore muscles from the climb up. I wondered how I would feel the next day. The highlight of the day was listening to vespers in the church. Three monks wearing their habits, along with alot of the village sang for a good half hour. A good experience. Pity it was in Latin they were singing.

That night I got to sleep early. I wanted to get to Cruz de Ferro before sun rise. I set my alarm on my phone but I just knew I would be woken before it went off.

Saturday and all that’s in it!

I’ve just arrived in from a busy day in Croke Park at the Ireland v France game. Not really sure how Ireland played as I’m not really that much of a rugby fan but I’ve come away with a little more French than before. “Official match programme..6 euro” is what I normally scream in the best north Dublin accent going, but today, as the french were passing, I tried to brush up on my Leaving Certificate French with “Le programme officialle – – 6 euros!”. Much to the bemusement of some of the French who still couldn’t understand me. I must brush up.

After the snows of last week, there were doubts that the game could go ahead but it went ahead on time @5pm. Cue the rudimentary tasks of counting money and and it’s time for me to leave the ground and head home. I never mind working there and always watch the Dubs or the Irish soccer team play but I’m out of Croke Park as quick as I can when it comes to Rugby. Some may totally disagree with what I do but it might be an idea to ask some rugby fans if they followed the Dubs or Tyrone along the Championship road. It’s a matter of taste really.. Next up is the Ireland v Georgia international on this Wednesday but I am unsure if I can get there on time with work. It’s a tough ask to get to Drumcondra from Sandymount in half hour..after a tough day at the office too :).

There is not much more for me to say about the day other than following up on my previous post. I have downloaded a trial version of Ecto, a nice little desktop tool for blogging. It looks really good and an easy on the eye interface. This piece of software has a 21 day life span and then I have the option of buying the real deal after that, so if all goes well I will buy it. I will let you know. I had great difficulty in setting up the blog settings as I’m a complete amatuer and after much searching I got it working!

Now to watch Match of the Day and laugh at Chelsea’s season falling apart. Ciao!