Looking Back – Camino Frances 2012 #1

June 2011. I had arrived back in Dublin and had a sneaking suspicion that I would see Spanish soil again. I had no idea when. I made sure to write down our guide’s email address before I left and I was glad as he gave me the kick to return. He also gave me some sweet recommendations of albergues in where to stay. First thing I needed to do was buy a guidebook and a backpack; Amazon for Brierley and Aldi for the backpack. Oh wow..looking back, it was a dingy thing that practically fell apart when I returned home. I sourced a list of what to bring and what not to bring from an online forum.

Boom! I had a plan. The goal was to walk from Leon to Sarria. This was all new ground. Carrying all I owned for 7 or so days, I left Dublin on the 24th of May 2012. The next day I jumped on a bus to Hospital de Orbigo and walked to Astorga. I was so nervous. I instantly wanted to meet some one and say the obligatory “Buen Camino” but it was quiet. I got used to my own company, my shoes and my backpack. The blue sky and the orange fields were my company today. I walked 17km until Astorga and got acquainted with my first albergue. Albergue San Javier – a sparse affair. Nothing to write home about, but I wasn’t on holiday. I was happy to take everything as it came. I got some food in Hotel Gaudi next door and took in the main plaza. Stunning. Day 2 tomorrow.

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The Camino de Santiago goes on and on…

La Voz de Galicia published an article online detailing new figures released from the Pilgrims Office in Santiago. Predictably, the total number of compostelas issued to pilgrims in 2016 has already surpassed those issued to pilgrims in the whole of 2015. We are also stepping into unknown territory also, as we are close to “Holy Year” territory. Maybe the increase is due to this year being a Jubilee Year? But it will be interesting to see how many compostelas are issued in 2017.

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You can view the article on La Voz de Galicia in Spanish here, however it is translated (badly) below.

The number of pilgrims has already exceeded that of the whole of 2015 and will break the historic St. James ceiling of 2010.

The Pilgrims Office stamped the 262,913th Compostela of the year.

The Camino de Santiago goes on and on. On Friday, the 22nd of October, the Pilgrims Office stamped the 262,913th Compostela of the year, with the number of walkers already exceeding those of 2015, when 262,515 people made / walked any of the routes. So far the record of pilgrims follows 2010, the last Holy Year, with 272,412 stamps, but the days are numbered. The fact is that about 888 hikers per day, less than two weeks in 2016, can overturn the historical mark achieved six years ago.

Another piece of significant data from the figures provided by the Pilgrims Office is the nationality of the travellers, as it also reflects the universal nature of this route. 55% of those who come are from abroad, more than half, and nationalities are in their dozens. At the Cathedral of Santiago, 168 different nationalities have arrived this year; leading these statistics Italy, ahead of Germany, United States, Portugal, France, Ireland, United Kingdom and Australia, the eighth foreign country in number of pilgrims this year. In Spain, Andalusia and Madrid are the regions that total more walkers. For routes, the Camino Francés is still in the majority, which had over 165,934 pilgrims this year, but it is also important that the number on the Portuguese, 49,746; the Camino Norte, 16,566, or the Primitivo, 11,488.

A good pace

The arrival of autumn has not demotivated those who decide to undertake this adventure, religious for some, spiritual for others and vital for all. And it is that although the daily average this year stands at 888 walkers, last Friday, already at the end of October, the Pilgrim Office exceeded 1000 who came to seal the Compostela. Specifically , they were 1,075, of which 611, almost 57%, came from another country.

Street view on the streets of Sarria

You know you have an addiction on your hands when you find yourself wandering on the Camino de Santiago on Google street view. If you have time on your hands, it is possible to “walk” vast chunks of the Camino from the safety of your living room. It is far less exciting, for sure, but you can get an idea of what awaits you once you “hook up”. I decided to take a tour from the outskirts of Sarria to it’s city centre during the weekend while not watching the rugby and football.

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The Camino winds along Rua do Peregrino before reaching the famous Peregrinoteca.com. Once you reach that, you can see Sarria’s famous steps that lead you to Rua Maior and it’s old town. Unfortunately, the great people at Google weren’t prepared to bring a car or a bicycle up the steps but we will let them off that for the time being. You can get an idea from the picture below.

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I got a little surprise, however, when I found that you can view inside and around this store. Try it out.

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Planning…

So now I’ve got something definite to work from..

I have plans and flights booked. All that is left is booking a train from Madrid to Leon. I am glad to have this done now so I can park it, get my exam in March out of the way and then get the last bits over with. May 24th is the day I head out. I’ve attached my agenda and while some days are tough, I reckon I’ll be prepared. Hopefully.

Big thanks goes to Garry Budin from Santiago who has planned most of this for me. He organises self guided trips for folks or groups on the Camino. He walked with our group last year and is a pure gent. You can look at some of the things he does here www.spanishadventures.com.

Now that I have that out of the way..here’s to Life Assurance, part one of the QFA..mind numbing stuff.

So I’ve decided..

So I’ve decided..
Last June I traveled to Spain to walk the final 100km of the Camino de Santiago. I have written about it before in past posts and the general opinion was I enjoyed it. It was painful on the legs but I came home with an over riding thought…I’m going back there again.
So here I am today. January 2012, 7 months after and after much humming and hawing, I’ve made my first enquiries. I’ll be starting at Leon and walking to Sarria. I plan to take to bus to Santiago and stay there for a night before I come home. Ten days in total from my flight out to Madrid and my flight back from Santiago.
In June, I walked as part of a group which was great. But everything was planned and there was no lee way to do my own thing. If I met people on the road, I would say goodbye within ten mins as I could not match their pace. This time I’m doing it alone.
A lot of people have asked me if this is wise, is it a good move, and why not hold back a few months until you meet someone else who may be interested in going. It’s not going to happen if I wait. Once the seed has been sown, there is no escaping it.
I’m having diffuculties with the folks who will always see me as their 20 year old son. This will never change.
I don’t have much planning to do being honest. The flights need to be booked, and a place in Leon and Santiago need to be arranged also. Other than that, it’s anything goes. I have ten days, for a stage that “could” take me 6 days. So I can take a rest day in between, or stay in Santiago a day extra.
Loads of people on Twitter have been helpful and have given tips on what to see and where to stay.
Another thing I need to mention is I have been in contact with a guy from Canada called Randall St Germain (@CaminoMyWay) who has written about his time on the Camino. He crazy thing is he did it in 20 days! You can find his book here: http://is.gd/QjyYzx. Give him a follow on twitter if you can. Even after reading his book, I have no idea how he did it.
So I’m going to finish up now. I”ll post again soon

My (Possible) Return to the Camino

As most of you know, I completed over 110km of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in June. I loved every second of it and walking for charity made it feel that bit better. But ever since I returned home, I’ve had a nagging urge to go back and walk some more. It took more than a while to settle back to routine when I returned.

So I have started plans to return back to walk another stage. Initially I wanted to walk 8 days from Ponferrada (http://bit.ly/ndy6WV) to Sarria. It seemed doable and after hurting my leg back in June, I was thinking I wouldn’t need to walk more than 20km a day. The plan was to fly into Santiago, get a bus to Ponferrada and walk to Sarria. On return, I bus it from Sarria back to Santiago, maybe stay the night and then return. Handy enough.
Next step was to get in touch with Garry, the guide from June. He lives in Santiago and has walked the Camino three times. He has written up a plan of action for me and I have to say it’s a massive help. In the end, I decided to round the duration to 10 days and start from Leon.
The biggest problem I have (and any help would be appreciated) is how I get to Leon. I have so many choices for flights; Dublin to Santiago or to Bilbao. Ryanair don’t fly to Northern Spain from Ireland so a flight to Santiago from Dublin seems the right option. It costs a small fortune so I may be forced to travel to Stansted and fly out to Santander or Santiago by Ryanair. Phew!
I have alot of decisions to make. The past few days I have been thinking of holding back for a few months but it’s now or never I reckon.

One month on..

It’s over a month since my last post and it’s well and truly time to update this thing, or at least say a few words to console it.  So what have I been doing with myself since…??

Well I am a month back from my Camino trek in June (pictures here and here. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and am looking to return to walk some part of the Way in the next year. I met some great people, and we continue to keep in touch. Let’s not forget all monies raised were donated to Aware. It is something I would encourage you all to do, even mark it down on your bucket list when you hit that territory! I had written up a long piece to be published but didn’t get round to finishing it, so I dropped it. I may come back to it soon.

I am back to the office after a two day break (Thursday and Friday) and enjoyed the rest. Didn’t do anything exciting, but it’s always good to wake up and not have something to do for the day. Not many holidays left, so will be conserving them until October or November. Not planning on a return to Spain until March or April. The real difficulty I have at the moment in relation to the Camino is I am finding it hard to find people to come along with me at that time. The folks I went with have expressed no interest to return and I am not too keen to venture off on my own. So maybe you Mr or Ms Reader, could help me somehow? 🙂

It was tough to get back to the swing of things after I got back. It took me a week or so to settle down, I just found it hard to focus as my mind was on the previous 10 days.

I started up this blog to post pictures, either from my iPhone or camera. I haven’t been doing that alot recently, but will do.