Post-Camino Equipment Shakedown

1

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?

 

Camino Frances 2018 – Day 0 – Dublin to Puente la Reina

September 11th, 2018 – Day 0
Dublin to Puente la Reina via Bilbao

Another Camino in 2018…another chance to walk with others in Spain. I made the decision to return once I stepped into the Praza da Obradoiro in Santiago in May.  It just made sense. I booked flights to and from Bilbao, Spain, packed my pack and set out.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The road to Puente la Reina is long and I didn’t arrive until late in the evening. The flight with Aer Lingus was fine and it left me in Bilbao at 3pm with still much travel to do. From the airport, one must catch the A3247 Biskaibus shuttlebus to Termibus in the city centre, which costs just €3.00. From there, I traveled on a Cuadrabus to Logroño, which took the bones of 90 minutes. On arrival in Logroño, I didn’t have long for a connecting La Estellesa which left me in the centre of Puente la Reina.

I wasn’t alone, mind you. A couple from Clare made the trip from Dublin and were traveling to Estella to start their Camino. They had walked from St. Jean to Estella last year. I enjoyed their company until we said our goodbyes at Estella. There were many others on the Logroño bus. The scenery from Bilbao to Logroño is beyond amazing. The bus chugs through valleys, giving you a first-hand view of the spectacular mountain scenery. The second trip was a little bit longer but it was fun to be driving alongside the Camino – passing towns I will meet in the next few days. Siesta had kicked in but we did pass the odd town with the next Lionel Messi working out how to score the winning goal in the 2028 World Cup.

Just after 8pm, I arrived in the Calle Mayor of Puente la Mayor. The streets were bustling with Spanish conversation and wine. Spanish dinner time. I took a walk to the Puente Románico before doubling back to my booked hostel, “Hostal la Plaza”. I had my first pilgrim meal while watching Spain play some football on TV. Sleep was in order, the next day (although short) had a number of steep climbs. Adelante!

20180906_194444

Packing list for Camino Frances 2018 (with links)

So this will be a fairly routine post with a list of what I have in my pack and links to where I have purchased them if you are interested in finding out more information. Most of the gear I have had for the last while with only some new items since my recent Camino Portuguese in May. So here goes.

Backpack – Lowe Alpine 35litre Trail
Trail Shoes – Meindl Philadelphia GTX trail shoes
Something for the rain – Berghaus rain jacket and Columbia rain trousers
Contigo 720ml water bottle

Clothes:
Columbia zip off trousers
Socks – 2 pair of Quechua socks (bought in Decathlon, Vigo) and 1 pair of Smartwool
Underwear – 3 pair of Under Armour
Baseball cap – Jack Wolfskin
Buff – Random buff I bought in Santiago in May
Sandals  – A cheap pair useful for airing the feet in the evenings
Craghoppers long sleeve shirt
Helly Hansen t-shirt
T-shirt purchased in Santiago in May
North Face fleece
Towel – 1 quick dry Microfibre towel
Sea to Summit – Silk liner sleeping bag

First Aid & Blister Kit:
Blister kit with a selection of compeed and plasters
Gehwol 75ml Foot cream
Deep heat
Earplugs, perfect for those noisy albergues!
Hand cream
Wash kit including All purpose soap 100ml
Safety pins for hanging up laundry
Toothpaste
Toothbrush

Electronics:
Phone & charging cable
Plug adaptor
Fitbit & charging cable
Small over-the-shoulder bag
Wise Pilgrim guidebook
Passport
Pilgrim passport

And I guess that is it!
I will make this into a pdf and save it in the archive.

If I don’t post again, please keep an eye on my instagram. I will be posting more frequently there. My first stop is Puente la Reina but I look forward to meeting other pilgrims and sharing stories. Isn’t that what the Camino is about?

20180825_193337.jpg

11 days to Puente la Reina

So while I have the time to write, I may as well post something.

I am 11 days out from yet another Camino and I am as good as ready. These five months since I returned from Santiago have flown by but I have been so busy. These few weeks have come around at just the right time. It will give me the time to slow down and, I suppose, unclutter everything from this head of mine. I have a few decisions to make so I hope the Camino can help me out and I will have a few answers when I return.

I am in zero rush to get to Puente la Reina as my bus to Logrono is 3 hours after the flight arrives. Once I arrive there, I have another bus trip on La Estellesa to Puente la Reina. I don’t know why La Union canceled their service there. I remember it being advertised the last time I was in Bilbao in 2015.

The Camino Frances can be addictive. No, let me rephrase that. It can be difficult to get used to other routes if you are so used to one particular route. I remember last year saying I would not walk the Camino Frances again, and here I am.

I have 6 days in the office before I leave for Spain and sunnier climes (I hope). I have been keeping tabs on the weather and it looks promising. I might ditch the rain trousers!

Adelante!

 

 

 

Back to the Camino Frances

And I can’t wait…

It has been nearly three months since I returned from Santiago and the Portuguese Camino. I had a great time. It was short. Too short. I arrived back and immediately thought “I need to go back”. So I sat down and looked at flights back to Spain. My trips to Spain typically last 2-3 weeks each year so a 10-day trip left a lot to be desired.

So when I heard that a friend and her husband are walking the Camino around that time, I asked if I could join them for a few days. Luckily enough, the response was yes and I quickly booked my flights. So I fly into Bilbao on September 11th and arrive in Puente la Reina later that day after a short bus journey. I meet up with them in Estella the following day, then I hope to walk with them for a few days after that. Hopefully, I will have enough days to walk to Belorado, a town I have many memories of.

So that’s it. I hope to meet people who have just set off on their journey as opposed to finishing in Santiago. I also hope that I can just switch off and enjoy each step compared to the frenziness of Santiago.

Alto del Perdon – Hill of Forgiveness

There are many sites of importance along the Camino Frances, for example, the tiny village of St Jean Pied de Port, the bridge at Puente la Reina, the Cruz de Ferro, and of course, the Cathedral in Santiago. But one site that is equally as important is the Alto de Perdon, roughly translated as the Hill of Forgiveness. Located 10km from Pamplona in Navarra, it is about 750 metres above sea level. There is no doubt that it is a tough climb, but the views are well worth it.

Your ascent starts at the town of Zariquiegui and the climb is gradual until you reach the top. That point you are greeted04-etapa4-camino-frances by a unique combination of the old and the new. You will see a sculpture depicting a number of Pilgrims either on foot or on horseback as they make their way along the Camino to Santiago. It is dedicated to pilgrims who have walked the Camino before us and was erected in 1996. If you look closely, you will see the below engraved into one of the monuments.

Donde se cruza el camino del viento con el de las estrellas

which translates into English as

where the path of the wind crosses that of the stars.

The pilgrim sculpture shares the Alto del Perdon with 40 wind turbines, which you can see for miles. On the Alto itself, you can see your next day’s walking ahead of you. People like to use the top of the Alto as a resting point to catch their breath after the climb and to prepare for the descent which can be trickier. There can be a great atmosphere up there on a good sunny day. If you are lucky, there will be somebody selling refreshments and the odd albergue owner making sure pilgrims know about their accommodation.:)

I walked from St. Jean Pied de Port to Belorado in September 2014. You can read about the day I walked up and over the Alto del Perdon here.

2014-09-07 08.25.39 2014-09-07 08.57.26 2014-09-07 09.00.27 2014-09-07 09.00.39 2014-09-07 09.03.36