Time stops for no one…

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The last few days have been tough. The death of a member of the family can put absolutely everything on hold and make you concentrate on the here and now. You put your life in perspective and answer a few questions that have been clicking around in the back of your head. Questions that I’d rather not answer. Well, until I go on Camino!

I mean the above in the least selfish way of course. When all the formalities were over, I arrived back in Dublin on Saturday after a pretty emotional mass and goodbye. I met family members I hadn’t seen in many years. We just had our own lives to live and did our own things. But what I am trying to say is we should live like today is our last. Forget the begrudgers, live your own life. If what you do doesn’t make you happy, find something else to work on! 

When I arrived home, I immediately jotted in dates for a 2nd Camino in 2019. I want to be in Spain as much as possible. Next September, I will start in Porto and walk along the coast. I probably will not reach Santiago but these things don’t bother me anymore. I have a feeling 2 Caminos each year will be the norm as long as I remain employable!! 

Buen and Healthy Camino!

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!

 

 

Are you a Pilgrim or a Walker?

It’s close to 10pm here in cold Dublin but wanted to share the below video with you all before I called it a night. It’s a pretty long video, coming in at close to 3 hours, so if you have a bit of time spare, it is well worth the watch. The maker of the video (sorry, I didn’t get a name but he goes by the username “Nalutia“) walked from St Jean Pied de Port to Fisterra in 2015 over 30-something days and I suppose this acted as a bit of a video diary. There are some great scenes of the Pyrenees and the meseta, with nice local music from Pamplona, La Rioja and Santiago.

During the video, he points out that, in his opinion, there are two types of people walking the Camino – pilgrims or trekkers / walkers. The vast majority of people say they are pilgrims but is the intention there to come home a better person than before? Do you visit a church, or take in the surroundings if you are not religious?

Or would you be a walker? Do you leave your accommodation before sunrise, ignore the amazing surroundings and attractions, and try to get to Santiago in the least amount of time? If you have walked the Camino before, the great “Bed Race” is an example of this, which I have been guilty of before!! This really defeats the purpose of the Camino in my opinion.

So if you are planning an upcoming Camino, listen to what the man in the below video has to say. Take your time, leave your earphones at home and experience what Spain has to offer. Go there with an open mind also, because, even if you don’t consider yourself a pilgrim now, you might learn something new about yourself while on the Way.

A tripod and expensive camera might be a little too much however… enjoy!

Beyond the Way 2.0 is a go..

Once the Beyond The Way series was complete, there was a great amount of doubt as to what Andrew (the man behind the series) was going to do next. The 9 episodes encapsulate the Camino, in my opinion, and he, along with everyone else, didn’t want to leave it just there. Like arriving into Santiago, there is an urge to continue on. Andrew wanted to return to Spain and walk another Camino. An indiegogo campaign was created to help but unfortunately, he fell short of his target.

However, while he may be under-budget, the below video is an answer to alot of peoples’ questions. I’m delighted that he has chosen to return. I’m also looking forward to receiving a few postcards & stamps after my contribution 🙂 More information can be found on www.beyondtheway.net or on his facebook page above.

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. 

 

 

Sindre’s Camino Primitivo

The Camino Primitivo is the most challenging of all the ways to Santiago de Compostela but also the most rewarding ones as you will pass through the untouched nature of Asturias.

There are less people on the Primitivo than on the Frances or the Portugues and you can enjoy the scenery all for yourself at some times.

However, I seem to be spoiled as one my followers, Sindre Sandvik is currently walking the Camino Primitivo and uploading videos on a daily basis. He has formed a great Camino family and you can really feel that a bond has been formed. Check out his blog Sindrealmost.com.

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!