Your Stories, Your Camino – Bozidar & Marjanca from Slovenia

During my recent Camino, I received an email from Bozidar & Marjanca who wished to tell their story about their Camino. Thank you for getting in touch!

I don’t remember when I first heard about Camino de Santiago – but since then, I very much wished to walk the Way. My dream came true in the summer of 2013, when my wife and I walked from León to Santiago de Compostela. The following year we walked from Saint Jean Pied de Port to León. We returned in 2016 and walked to the end of the world, to Cape Finisterre. Those summers still hold the most beautiful memories for us.

Before we left for our first Camino, we thought we were prepared, because we walked on many trails and hills around our home town, but on the Way we got blisters, as many others did. It was easier to handle them as the way leads you through beautiful landscapes, many beautiful villages and cities with rich history. However, the Camino sometimes takes you through industrial suburbs and abandoned villages, and of course sometimes blisters and muscles also hurt more. Many people say that Camino is a lot like life: it not only includes happiness and beautiful things, but also pain and tough times. There are many opportunities for conversation along the Way, but also time for silence and reflection.

During the walk we can recall already forgotten events, beautiful moments as well as sad memories. On the other hand, we started thinking about plans for the future. Many people also say that Camino does not only purify the body while walking but also the soul. As a result, our feelings were not only wonderful when we arrived at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela – at the same time we were sad, because the journey was over… and we realise that the best thing we can do after our Camino is that we try to continue our Camino each day of our lives.

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Bozidar and Marjanca Rustja, Slovenia

Your Stories, Your Camino – Peadar Costello

I was delighted to receive an email from Peadar Costello, a long time reader to this blog. He has been on the Camino Frances a number of times and has been been bitten by the Camino bug. He returns in September walking from St Jean Pied de Port to Belorado with a friend. Maybe he will write about this particular Camino when he returns? I wish him a Buen Camino either way!

Peadar writes…

I am blessed and fortunate to have been able to walk the Camino Frances. It took me three separate visits to complete the entire Camino and in classic Irish fashion I walked the last section first!

This is my first Camino story :

September 2011 : Astorga to Santiago de Compostela / Finisterre / Muxia

I was 50 in 2011 and had a long standing fascination with the Camino. My wife suggested that to mark this milestone, it was time to stop the Camino talk and start the Camino walk! So on a beautiful sunny Saturday evening I stepped off the Madrid bus in Astorga and headed for the Albergue Siervas de Maria to claim the last bed. Early the next morning I took my very first (nervous) steps on to the Camino but by the end of that first days walking I had secured a bed in the wonderful Albergue Gaucelmo in Rabanal del Camino and shared my first menu Peregrino meal with a multinational group of fellow Pilgrims.

I went to bed that night knowing that the Camino was to become a major part of my life from that day on.

From Rabanal I followed the following route :

El Acebo – Ponferrada – La Faba – Fonfria – Samos – Sarria – Portomarin – Palas de Rei – Ribadiso – O Pedrouzo.

After 13 magical days of walking I found myself in the Praza Obradoiro in Santiago staring up at the magnificent Cathedral tired, elated and emotional. My 2011 adventure continued further with a bus journey to Cee followed by three more magical days of walking from Cee – Finistere – Lires – and finally Muxia.

A wonderful end to a fantastic and life changing adventure . I had well and truly been ‘bitten’ by the Camino bug that resulted in further visits in 2013 and 2015 to complete the Camino Frances.

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Your Stories, Your Camino – Reg & Sue Spittle

I was delighted to receive an e-mail from Sue Spittle after she read my post asking for other people’s experiences on the Camino de Santiago. Both Sue and her husband Reg, decided to walk the Camino Frances from Pamplona in 2013. It was their first long distance walk and their first time with backpacks. It seems they really gained from their time on the Camino as they both are “living life with less baggage”! More details about Sue & Reg’s Camino can be found on www.carryoncouple.com/caminodesantigo.

So what was Sue’s impression of her Camino?…..

“We should do it!” That was my reaction in August of 2012 as the credits rolled signaling the end of the Emilio Estevez/Martin Sheen movie, The Way. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I realized I really meant it.

My husband thought I was nuts. We had no backpacking experience, with the exception of an overnighter with friends some 30 years earlier. How could we walk 500 miles? How could we carry everything we needed in a backpack? Where would we stay? What would we eat? What about our privacy? All valid concerns to which I responded, “What if we can do it? Besides, (we were recently retired) what else will we do with all our time?”

Fast forward to an April morning in 2013. Equipped with brand spanking new packs, sleeping bags, hiking shoes, assorted clothing and an abundance of other non-essential personal items, we took our first steps along the Camino, leading us out of Pamplona, Spain and into an entirely new way of life!

● Our training consisted of a variety of day hikes, with and without packs, only 100 miles in all. Trekking poles are a must!
● Albergues, with their dorm-style rooms, were intimidating at first, but we met wonderful people of all ages and nationalities. Do stay in some!
● Some Pilgrim meals were better than others, but all were affordable and often shared
around a communal table. Don’t miss out on this!
● Walk your own Camino. Find a pace and daily mileage count that suits your abilities.
For us it was 12 miles/day. It is not a race!
● Nor is it easy! Sore muscles, tired feet, blisters, sun, rain, snow, snoring, top bunks,
co-ed bathrooms…be prepared!
● The Camino has much to teach all who travel The Way. Appreciate each day for what it
is.

While reaching Santiago was our original goal, we weren’t far from Pamplona when we realized that the adventure would be about so much more. We both experienced a variety of emotions upon arriving in Santiago. Exhilaration, relief, sadness, gratitude…I would encourage you to find your “Way”. It just might change your life!

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Reg & Sue after reaching the top of O Cebreiro

Your Stories, Your Camino – Máire Keane

I have received quite a few e-mails from readers wanting to write a few words about their Camino experience. Thank you to everyone who has written or are considering writing. I hope to continue this series on a weekly basis. The first post comes from Máire Keane. Máire walked the final 100 km of the Camino Frances from Sarria in June of this year. It was her first time on the Camino and it seems like she had a really positive experience. Another Camino awaits 🙂

Máire writes…

I am a lady of a ‘certain vintage’ and decided to walk part of the Camino on my own in June 2017. Because I was a solo traveller with some health issues I travelled ‘self guided’ using a specialist company. This was a great decision because they planned my route, organised my accommodation and luggage transfers and were available for additional support should the need arise – thankfully it didn’t.

My camino experience was extremely positive but I would advise someone starting to plan a camino adventure to train – the whole experience is way more enjoyable when your feet are happy and your legs are tired but able.  I met some sorry pilgrims with blisters, with calf strain, with pulled hamstrings….. I suffered nothing worse than a few insect bites.

I have great memories from my week in Galicia – great views, early mornings, good food, laughs, stories, paddling in the stream, head space, digital detox, a lightening of the mental load, farms, lemon flavoured Aquarius, lanes, coffee, forests, towns, churches, prayers, aging stoners recapturing their youth, nuns, rockers, bell bottom trousers, bikini tops – the Camino Francés had it all.

No negatives at all although on my next camino I will plan more myself (now that I know the ropes) and will probably book on a b&b basis rather than half-board.

I did feel a bit of an anti-climax on reaching the square in front of the Cathedral in Santiago – the square was almost empty and there was scaffolding in front of the Cathedral.  I think I must have had ‘St. Peter’s Square’ in Rome in my subconscious but thankfully some new friends I had made on the way met me and ramped up the excitement.  The pilgrim mass at 12 was a highlight, not solely because of the religious aspect but also the community feeling of having completed a journey together yet apart.

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Your Stories, Your Camino…

Have you recently walked a Camino? If so, I’d love to hear from you.

Now, I realise that walking all or part of a Camino can be difficult to put into words. It took me a while to process all the thoughts in my head after my first Camino in 2011. What I am ideally looking for is a short synopsis of your Camino – where you walked and for how long, what positives you took from it, and if you had any bad experiences. If you could write about 100 words and include a picture or so, that would be ideal. Maybe you have created a video of your time on the Camino? If so, send me the link and I will post it. I will post your summary so others who may have not walked the Camino will take note. I think it will be very helpful.

Let me know if you are interested in getting involved by emailing me at clearskiescamino@gmail.com.