Home..but still on the Way..

My feet are in Dublin but my mind has been left somewhere between Leon and Astorga on the dusty trail.

Sigh!

All who I have met, broke bread and shared stories with are close to Santiago at this stage. How I wish I had continued my journey with them. But alas!, I must return to reality. I have heaps to write about and I hope to do so over the next few weeks. I also have made plans for May 2018 so my way is still being walked. More of that to come. I am blessed to live so close to a treasure that is the Camino. Every year it gives me time to think, to switch off, to have time alone and share conundrums with total strangers. No judgement is made or received. I made some difficult decisions over these few weeks which can be hard to make in the midst of the noise of everyday life.

It’s difficult to sum up in a sentence what this particular Camino meant to me. Each morning, I would start walking in the dark with only a torch to guide me. I would listen to music until the sun climbed over the horizon. One particular song hit home. It is called “Scare away the dark” by Passenger. I listened to this most mornings, maybe twice or three times. Listen yourself to the lyrics, the words struck a chord for me. We should all live and love without fear or consequence. Our time on this blue dot is not long. Keep it simple, treat everyone the same as you would like to be treated yourself and most of all, do what makes you happy.

La vida es un Camino!

 

 

Another passion of mine…

I’ll let you into a little secret..

lyricsIn another lifetime..well, not too long ago, I used to enjoy putting one word after the other to create sentences. From the age of 12 right up to my mid-20’s, I got great enjoyment out of writing and playing guitar on a regular basis. It was a pretty fun thing to do and I was even in a band at one stage. Sure, every 20-something was! It was a rite of passage in life.

However, in time, life got in the way and writing reports and reaching deadlines replaced this little obsession of mine. I have still listened to music all along, but my two guitars are now gathering dust in the corner of my room and my collection of songs are in a box alongside them. I haven’t looked at them in years.

But tonight something happened that hasn’t happened in quite a while. I put pen to paper and wrote eight lines. It’s not much, but it could be the spark. My inspiration? The Camino, walking and its memories.

I’ll probably forget about it tomorrow and leave these few lines lying where they are but this whole thing surprised me. Will I kick on from here? I’d love to. If I can write a part of a song without music I’d be pretty happy. It’s all about being creative I suppose and this is a great way. I had also thought about buying a ukelele before Christmas as it is so easy to learn (plus they only have 4 strings).

 

Weekend Watch #37 – Tom Kilman’s Camino

Happy Weekend & Happy Halloween!! It’s that time of the week to post a Camino video! This one is one of the more popular videos on YouTube with over 11,000 views at the time of writing. It is a well put together video of three guys who walk from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago during August 2016. The music is fitting too. I found it funny listening to their opinions of the Meseta and checking into a pension in Fromista. Enjoy!

Camino Finisterre 2016 – Day 6-7 – To Santiago & Home

Camino 2016 – Day 6-7 – To Santiago & Home – September 7th & 8th
It had to come to an end….

I had a restless sleep the previous night. A large group came in to the dorm at 3am from gathering at the cape. I didn’t blame them though. It’s the last night. Maybe if I was younger, I would have joined them. Anyway, I got up just after half 7..the sound of flip flops being my final alarm. My Cork friend was gathering his belongings while I carried my bag out to make sure I had everything. He was to walk to Muxia that day, but was waiting for another friend to accompany him. I said my goodbyes to him. Muxia would wait for another day. Today, I was travelling to Santiago.

I walked down to outside the Xunta albergue, where the bus stop is. I had a good wait ahead of me before the bus arrived shortly after 8.15am. People were busily going to work and opening the cafes and restaurants. I was really hoping this was just a dream. I picked up my rucksack..ouch…nope it’s real. I had aches in my lower back from the previous few days’ climbs. Hmm..I need to get (and remain) Camino-fit. I got on the bus and had a seat near the top. A few minutes later, my friend from Slovenia got on. I knew I would meet her before I left. I was delighted! The Monbus coach takes you from Finisterre to Cee and further south along the coast, before it arrives in Santiago. All in all the trip took 2 and a half hours. It was good having company on the bus, as well as looking at pilgrims walking between Cee and Finisterre. I had hoped on being in Santiago by 10.30am for the English mass, but the bus was delayed. Not to worry. We both got a feeder bus from the Estacion de Autobuses to Praza de Galicia (only a €1 each) and walked to the Praza da Obradoiro. No matter how many times I have stood in front of the Cathedral, I feel a great sense of joy. I watched other pilgrims enter the Praza happy to have completed their Caminos. I noticed a number of members of Guardia Civil with arms there too, which I didn’t notice the last time I was here. Times are changing. We both agreed to meet later for some food once we checked into our albergues.

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The Hospederia San Martin Pinario hadn’t changed in my absence. I got my key – Room 409 – ugh! Another climb up those steps. On the top floor, I heard Dublin accents. I said “so I’m not the only Irish person here?” We had a long conversation about our completed Caminos. Both had walked from Sarria and loved the experience. They invited me out for a bite to eat but I needed to clean myself up. I was grateful for their offer. I hope to see them at the airport however when we were flying home. After a shower, I had an hour snooze and wandered out to a busy Santiago. The streets were full of tourists, pilgrims and souvenir traders. It was bustling. Walking down Praza de Cervantes and into Rua do Preguntoiro, I look at all the shop windows. I was looking for Rua Nova however and it isn’t long before I am lost, yet again. I find it after a while and take a seat at El Retablo (you should go there). It’s a great cafe and I ordered an Estrella. The best part of ordering drinks in Spain is the snacks that you are provided. 

After an hour or so after, I went to the Cathedral and then met up with my Slovenian friend, We decided to have some food and before long we were in a resuraunt at the end of Rua Vilar. It was really enjoyable! We then walked to to Casino Cafe to finish the evening. We were then joined by a Latvian girl who had walked the Camino Frances. She enjoyed the Camino experience so much, she was now going to walk to Porto or further. We wished her well and gave her some Portuguese phrases to use 🙂 I hope to walk from Porto soon.

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I then had an early night, promising that I would go to the English mass at 10.30. The following day, I woke at half past 7. I decided to get some breakfast in the San Martin. It was fab! Toast, tea, fruit and you can take more when finished. Yum! I then checked out, left my bag behind reception and went to find the English Mass. If you are interested and if English is your first language, there is a mass at 10.30am Monday to Saturday and 9am on Sunday in the Capella de la Soledad. About 50 turned up for this service, mostly from Ireland.

We went for a short way to the Parque de la Alameda to count down the remainder of my Camino. I hadn’t long before I had to take my bag and fly off from the airport. I said my goodbyes, although I gave an invite to come to Ireland! 🙂 and made my way to the airport.

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There, I was re-introduced to queues…and everything that I didn’t see on the Camino. I was back to reality. I met my Irish friends from San Martin again and sat with them for lunch. They seemed to have a good time, which is the main thing. While waiting for the plane, I thought about walking, I thought about the next time. The question of “if” had long been answered, it was more a question of “when” and “where”. I had met some great people also – from Ireland, Slovenia, Italy, France, Hungary, Latvia, Colombia, Germany. I hope these memories will stay fresh as they are now. I arrived home tired, wanting to be in Spain. 

 

 

The Sounds of the Camino

As soon as you reach wherever you choose to start your Camino, there will be sounds that you will find hard to unhear until you reach Santiago. Some are annoying, some make you smile but they are part and parcel of the Camino de Santiago. I’ve decided to run down a few:

1. Buen Camino – Every pilgrim you meet while on the Camino will greet you with the phrase “Buen Camino”. No matter who the person is, their status, or where he or she is from, the first words they utter will be “Buen Camino”. It means “Good way”, while in Portugal, the phrase used is “Bom Caminho”. It is a great way to start off a conversation and meet people but just be careful you don’t say it to a local – I’ve been given a few strange stares 🙂

2. Crickets chirping – Ah, now this is something you don’t hear in Ireland, or the UK for that matter. The natter of crickets and other various insects during the day. If you listen closely during a warm day, you will hear them around you. This video was taken after Hospital de Orbigo in 2012.

 

3. The clatter of cups and saucers in cafes – You wake up and are looking for your first cafe con leche of the day. The nearest cafe is busy serving peregrinos from albergues nearby. All you can hear are cups, saucers, and spoons placed in front of a row of sleepy grumpy pilgrims. Then the coffee machine kicks into gear. After that first cup of cafe con leche and a tostada, I am awake ready to take on the world…until I reach the next cafe, that is!

4. The click-clack of walking poles with no rubber tips – Ok, I need to vent. Other peregrinos may agree with me, some may not but this sound drives me insane. If you have seen the fim Jaws, or any other horror film, you will know what I mean. Picture serenity..pure silence, then out of nowhere..the click-clacking of poles approaching you from behind. There is no escaping them..you need to stop and let them pass you by so you can have your silence. However, rubber tips on the poles stop this sound and all is normal 🙂 Vent over!

5. Snoring in albergues – Ahh, the pilgrim’s lullaby. It takes time to get used to, and the first couple of nights you may not get any sleep at all. It’s one of the major sounds of the Camino and unfortunately if you want to sleep in albergues, you will need to grin and bear it. Its a good idea to buy the best foam earplugs money can buy to ensure a restful nights sleep. However, some pilgrims just wont be silenced.

6. Church bells ringing every hour – I guarantee you that you will not need a watch in Spain. Don’t bring one. Church bells ring on the hour every hour which can be annoying also. I remember staying in Hontanas one night in 2013 and the bells in the village church belled on the hour during the night. I wasn’t that happy the next morning, let’s just say. 🙂

 

7. New pilgrims post-Sarria – If your Camino is due to start before Sarria, you will notice a considerable difference when you arrive there. Sarria is last town you must start on the French Way in order to obtain a compostela. Pilgrims who start here are different to those start in, let’s say, St Jean, in that they have more energy, they dress differently and there are greater numbers. There are schools and youth groups walking from Sarria and often you will hear them sing songs, and have radios playing while walking.

8. The sound of friendships being formed – Walking a Camino is the easiest way to meet people from anywhere around the world. Occupation, status, class is meaningless and what counts is how we treat each other over the few weeks we are on the trail. From the moment you set out, it is next to impossible to strike up a conversation with a total stranger. A conversation leads to laughter and that leads to being accepted into a Camino family, where everyone looks out for each other. When the time comes, email addresses are shared and we go our separate ways. I am still in touch with people from 2013. Memories are good nowadays, but they will never beat the real thing.

9. The Sound of silence – No, I’m not going to bring out my guitar and play the Simon and Garfunkel classic, but what I will say is I love walking in silence. You can’t beat walking before the sun rises, stopping to watch it rise over the horizon.

 

10. Bagpipes in Santiago – You have made it! You walk under the archway and into the Praza da Obradoiro with a soundtrack of bagpipes eternally playing. Who cares if they have been playing since the morning, in your mind it is music to celebrate your arrival to Santiago.

 

And there you have it. Are there any other sounds that remind you of the Camino? Please let me know in the comments below!

A little bit of Music?

Imagine the scene..

You have left your albergue, it is 7am in the morning and you are setting off alone. The sun has risen behind you and you have 7 hours of walking ahead of you. Sounds great, doesn’t it? You look around and there are one or two other pilgrims behind you, while there are three ahead of you. You could slow down or speed up to talk to either group, but you prefer your own company. Silence is golden and all that…and there are only so many questions you can answer while talking to your self. I usually listen to music at this stage. Before a Camino, I make up a playlist on my phone ready and waiting. There are some days I wouldn’t listen to any music as I could be chatting with other peregrinos. But I don’t use the music as an excuse not to meet and mingle with other pilgrims. So here is my Spotify playlist for my upcoming Camino Finisterre. I probably won’t even listen to it, but it’s handy to have.

You can have a listen to the playlist here. Unfortunately, WordPress is unable to embed playlists from Spotify.

It’s worth bearing in mind that you should download the music onto your phone before you leave to avoid data costs. If you are making your own and don’t have a Spotify account, you could do the same on YouTube. Enjoy!