Up-to-date Packing List

It is quite normal to change your packing list if you are one to return to the Camino frequently. There may be items that just don’t work for you or a better item might be available for sale. So I’m just going to post what I have scribbled down for my Camino in September. I weighed this at 7kg last week, the lightest pack I have brought so far. This is without water and snacks.

Pack – 33 litre Osprey pack

Wearing:
North face microfleece 1/4 zip
Craghopper shirt
Craghopper trail trousers
Bridgedale socks
1 under armour underwear
Salomon trail shoes with superfeet insoles
1 baseball cap
1 buff
Small over the shoulder bag containing the following: Phone and Earphones, Passport, Flight details, Debit card, Small amount of money, Camino Society Ireland Credential

Within the backpack:
Vaude Backpack raincover
Silk liner
1 pair of Sandals
700ml Water bottle – attached to pack with carabiner
Small plastic folder containing: – Flight details – Prescription – E111 card

Top pocket of pack:
Craghopper Kiwi Classic Jacket – Hooded rain/wind jacket (replacing the Helly Hansen Loke Jacket)
Berghaus Rain trousers

Within a Compression sack:
1 pair of shorts
Helly hansen t shirt
Icebreaker coolmax t shirt
2 under armour underwear
2 pair of bridgedale socks

Within a dry sack:
First aid kit (ibuprofen, motillium, etc – includes blister kit, germoline, small swiss knife with scissors)

Within a dry sack:
Toiletry kit (Travel toothbrush/toothpaste, roll on deodorant, Lifeventure all purpose soap 100ml, disposable razor, hand sanitiser)
Quick-drying REI packable towel
Medication
Wet wipes

Within a dry sack:
Ear plugs
12 safety pins for drying clothes
Phone charger / lead / Adapter
Power bank for phone
(Still debating whether to bring my action camera with strap attachment)
Camino Shell (take out when I start walking)
Spork

Backpack Waist pockets
Headlamp / tiny torch
2 carabiners

If you have any questions about my packing list, please feel free to ask in the comments below.

Astorga becomes Logrono….

I’m not naturally unpredictable but after a few days thinking, I have thrown a curveball at my plans for September. Alas, I have decided to shift the starting point of September Camino to La Rioja and Logrono. Logrono is a lovely city and like Astorga, there is plenty to see and do. I will have ten days of walking and I hope to reach Sahagun by the tenth day. From there, I will take a train to Santiago where I will meet my good friend, St. James. I have walked through the provinces of La Rioja and Castilla y Leon on a number of occasions and have really enjoyed my times there. So much so that I will postpone my walking through Galicia for another time. My flight to Madrid on the 4th of September still stands, and from there I catch an ALSA bus to Logrono. I’m half-tempted to walk to Navarette once I arrive but for the time being, I have reserved a bunk-bed in Albergue Albas

I get to pass through favourite towns of mine – Belorado (with it’s highly recommended Cuatro Cantones albergue), Azofra, Burgos, Boadilla del Camino, and Villalcázar de Sirga. The meseta has only been good to me when I walked through it, so I look forward to September. Many dislike this stretch, so much so that they catch a bus to Leon or Astorga. I’m not sure why. I suppose living so close to the Camino allows me to make these sudden changes and I’m grateful for that. I do apologise to any of my readers who were looking forward to my posts from Galicia but I will make it up to you.

Buen Camino amigos!

Ps – My post on my recent walk around the Bog of Frogs last Saturday has been posted on Camino Society Ireland’s new website.

Camino 2015 – Day 8 – Sahagun to Reliegos

May 13th 2015 – Day 8
Sahagun to Reliegos, 31km

The least attractive part of the Camino, I feel. But still it holds a beauty that you can’t contain. I remember on my trip in 2013 walking alone for miles along this barren stretch and the only source of amusement was counting the trees on my left hand side. I think I reached 500 and stopped. It has become a private joke between my Camino friends here in Ireland.

This morning was an early one, like the morning before. But unlike Ledigos, there was plenty of light. I was in a large town! I left at 6am taking some paracetamol for my leg and hoping the pain would go away soon. The sleep did nothing to quell it but I did catch up on a few hours rest which was what I wanted. Sahagun is a nice town and I would like to see more of it the time I pass through. It was a crime I didn’t buy a Guinness in the Irish bar although Franz did and said it tasted “second hand”! You can’t beat the real thing! Leaving Sahagun is confusing to say the least and the fact that it was dark and I was alone make it worse. I walked over the bridge and along the main road but once you come to the roundabout, the directions led me astray. I waited for 10, maybe 15 minutes until some French pilgrims asked me which route I wanted to walk. “Oh to Bercianos please!!” was my response and they pointed me in the right direction. In 2013, I was luckily not alone so I didn’t have this problem.

Onward I walk. Other pilgrims have the option of walking the Roman Road to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos via Calzada de Coto, but it is a long stretch. There are more towns to stop at on the Camino Real. I was on safe terrain now and thanked the French couple. It wasn’t long before the sun had risen and pilgrims had left their places of rest. Bercianos de Real Camino was my first stop. I was eager to find the cafe run by a Spanish / English couple at the entrance of the town but in typical David fashion, I couldn’t find it. Had it closed? Were they not open this morning? Hmm! Once again, memories of my time spent in town in 2013 flood back. I also noticed a few more albergues and restaurants had opened up since I had passed through. I decided to leave breakfast until the next town El Burgo Ranero, some 15km from Sahagun!!

El Burgo Ranero is much bigger than Bercianos with more albergues. More people tend to stay here instead of Sahagun and it is listed as an end stage in Brierley’s guide book. Ah Brierley! I promised I wouldn’t mention him..ok..enough! The walk into El Burgo Ranero is pretty mundane. I listen to music on my phone and apart from the odd old building, there is nothing worth photographing. I’m walking alone also so it’s a great time to think things over. Reaching El Burgo Ranero is great. I stop at the first restaurant and order some breakfast. The cafe is crowded, mostly by pilgrims who have stayed in Bercianos the night before. I meet two women from Ireland who are walking the Camino in stages..this time from Fromista to Ponferrada. I overhear them speaking Irish, which is very unusual when abroad. I didn’t want to disturb them so I waited until I had ordered and sat down to said hello. It was great to talk to them. They had their day packs and were clearly taking a more relaxed attitude to other people. I ordered them another cafe con leche! I also met Mary from Florida, who was in her 70s. I would meet her many times down the line but one thing I noticed about her was her determination. She just kept on going. I moved on eventually, hoping to reach Reliegos before this leg gave out.

The next 11 or 12kms is uninspiring..pretty much! However, I enjoyed the alone time! I played games to ensure I kept the same pace..”what’s over the hill?..Most of the time, it is usually nothing, but I just didn’t want to go back to counting trees. The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cold either, and we had cloud cover. I also heard a lot about Elvis in Reliegos..He owns a bar “The Blue Bar” as it is known. It’s an albergue as well, but I’m not sure many people stay there. I wondered if I would see the guys again as we made no plans on where to stay tonight. I just assumed they would aim for Reliegos but wouldn’t it be funny if they turned up in the same albergue as me??

I arrived in Reliegos after 3 more hours. As you enter the “town”, there is a bar so I bought a cool cerveza and an aquarius. Maybe the guys would turn up while I waited outside. After half an hour, I went in search of the albergue “Las Paradas” which is at the back of the town. It’s nothing special but it was clean, a big plus in my books! The owner acted like he had a chip on his shoulder, I don’t think I saw him smile when I was there. I washed my gear, had a shower and put my feet up in the patio area. Next, Tom, Caroline, Franz and Tina walk in. I have no idea! I was delighted. They were joined by another German guy called Andreas whom we had dinner with that evening. Another great night. I didn’t get to see Elvis’ bar in the end. Maybe another time.

Tomorrow I walk into Leon. It’ll be like meeting an old friend again having being here twice before. We will be back walking as a group also. After dinner I got some great news also as someone was prepared to wire me Western Union funds to keep me going until I return home. I just needed to visit the Correos in Leon and I could collect it. Good times!

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Camino 2015 – Day 7 – Ledigos to Sahagun

May 12th 2015 – Day 7
Ledigos to Sahagun, 16km

I’m up earlier than normal this morning as I heard that today was going to be especially hot. The Spanish news are forecasting temps in the region of 35c so the night before I get my gear ready for an early start. There isn’t much I would say about this albergue, I was asleep during most my time here but it was good to see my friends again.

I leave after a quick snack of fruits around 5.30am. The sun is well under the horizon so everything is in darkness. I struggle to find the first arrow but I use my headlamp to figure out where things are. On leaving Ledigos, you are given two options to get to Terradillos de los Templarios, which is the next town. One is slightly longer so naturally people choose the shorter option, which I also choose. Again, remember that I am in pitch black with no other pilgrims. I walk on for twenty minutes or so, expecting to see lights or even an arrow. Nothing. Have I taken a wrong turn? I think I have, but I check GPS, just in case. I was walking away from the Camino in the direction of a town called “Poblacion de los Arroyos”! I’m glad I decided to check at that stage rather than walk blindly for a further 20 minutes.

After a while, I was back on the Camino (yes it was the right one!)..the sun was beginning to rise and pilgrims were leaving Templarios. I remember my time there in 2013. It’s a tiny village with a shop, a church and two albergues. It is a typical Meseta town. The albergue I stayed in is fine and at that time alot of my friends stayed there that evening. It was a late night!! Back to now however, I walked to Moratinos where I had the most amazing breakfast. The cafe is owned by Bruno who also runs the albergue and trust me..get some breakfast there. It set me up for the rest of the day.

Most of the day was along the road, using the Senda del Peregrinos (the soulless senda, in my books!). It was unspectacular and flat, but you have to take the bad with the good. I walked alone until I met up with Franz and Tina just outside of San Nicolas. Tom and Caroline had started earlier and were far ahead. They had decided on staying in Sahagun and while I wanted to re-visit Bercianos de Real Camino, my leg was causing me enough concern to have a short day. I also decided to check into a pension as I was in need of a few more hours sleep. Maybe the 5,30am start this morning was a bad thing?

Before arriving in Sahagun, we stopped at the “Ermita de la Virgin del Puente” which marks the halfway point of the full Camino. This meant alot to pilgrims who had started in St Jean and to Franz and Tina who couldn’t believe they had walked so far in such a short space of time. Me? I had only started. The temperature was reaching it’s highest at this point so we decided to move on to Sahagun. Eventually we see Tom and Caroline across from the main refugio sipping on a cerveza. They had already booked into a pension. Are albergues in Sahagun that bad?

I checked into Hostal la Bastide which is directly opposite the main refugio, breaking into the last €50 note I had on me. I needed to call my bank to see what the problem was with my ATM card. After a long conversation, I was told to visit a bank as the problem was not with my bank. I walked (with trouble) down to the local BBVA and asked if anyone spoke English. One girl with a little amount told me that the problem was with the card and not their ATM machine. After another conversation with my own bank, I was told that the problem was with the card and there was nothing they could do. Hmm..I’m left with little over €20 with another week to go..time to think! Luckily I was with good people who said they would provide me with what I need. The Camino does provide, you know?

I had an amazing meal later that evening in the plaza mayor. Siesta had just finished and with all towns in Spain, the town woke up with families pouring out into the square. Kids playing football, running around, with men and women talking about whatever. Sure beats sitting in front of a TV.
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