Camino de Santiago 1

Jun 25th, 2012 | By | Category: Travel Adventures
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Hello mom, family, and friends. Today I started a physical, intellectual, and spiritual journey called The Camino de Santiago or the way of St. James. It is a well known pilgrimage across Spain to Santiago de Compostella. I am doing the French way which starts in St. Jean Pied de Port on the French side of the pyrranease and ends 800 km (500 miles) later in Santiago. Yes, I said 500 miles. However, I decided to go to Barcelona for a few days and I took the train to Pamplona to begin my journey. So in the next 35ish days I plan to walk 450 miles across Spain.

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I arrived by train in the beautiful city of Pamplona and after checking into my hotel proceeded to register for the camino.

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You see in order for the pilgrimage to be official you need a pilgrims passport and you need to walk at least the last 100 km to Santiago. So I went to the passport office (on a Sunday) and rang the doorbell. A nice man who didn’t speak English let me into the office, offered me fresh cherries, and proceeded to fill out my passport. His son showed up a few minutes into the exchange and translated me through the process. I was now ready to begin, or was I??

I realized that my pack was too heavy. It was only about 23 lbs but I knew it was too much. I needed to go colony survival mode with just one extra change of clothes. So I decided I would send a package home. I got up Monday, ate breakfast in the hotel, and headed to the post office to mail a small amount of clothes back home.

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Now I mentioned that the camino would be an intellectual journey. I say that because I don’t speak Spanish and I am alone. What better way to stimulate your brain then to spend 6 weeks struggling to eat, drink, navigate, and survive. Nobody working in the post office spoke English. The computers crashed. For an hour I sat and waited looking at empty counters until the computer came back on line…and they had no idea when that would occur.

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But eventually, with the help of strangers, a translation app on my iPhone, and some finger pointing, I managed to mail my small parcel home.

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Now I was ready to begin. I decided that since it was already past 10am in the morning I would only walk a short distance, 5km (3 miles) to the nearby city of Cizur Menur. This way I could make sure my pack was good and I was feeling mentally and physically ready.

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So I put on my music and began my camino. The path is well marked in the city and easy to follow.

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As soon as I got out of the city I started meeting other pilgrims and I started walking with three Portuguese guys who live and work in Switzerland.

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This is Joca. He was the first person to talk to me on the camino. He is traveling with two brothers, Mindo and Ceasar. They are all very nice, and funny guys. Jaco spoke the most English but it didn’t seem to matter. They worked really hard to talk with me and to make me feel welcomed.

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As a result of meeting these guys I ended up walking 24 km (~15 miles) all the way to Puente La Reina.

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Google maps doesn’t mark the camino so the map above is only an estimated route. You can see the blue do that shows you actually where I am. The map below gives you an idea of the elevation changes and distance to the towns.

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Here are pictures along the way:

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Everyone who starts the camino doesn’t always finish their goal. If you’ve seen the movie The Way then you know tragedy can strike on The Camino. If you haven’t seen The Way, it is well worth the rental fee.

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Had to stop for a mojito along the way. It was a very hot day and I was feeling out of shape.

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We finally made it to our alburgue (hostel) and I was exhausted. This alburgue was amazing and I’ve been told that none of the others will be this good. There was an outdoor area with music and a bar, I was in a small room with 5 other women and out own bathroom, and dinner ( the pilgrims meal) was a huge buffet. The alburgue was 10€ and the buffet 11.50€.

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That is roasted rabbit. It was so good I went back for seconds. It was a magnificent first day on The Camino. My body aches but I’m feeling inspired and I’m looking forward to the new experiences and connections I will make.

I was able to post this blog because there is wifi here. Not sure if I’ll be able to post again along the way. Here is a video I made along the way:

Day 2: Feeling Good

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8 comments
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  1. LOL. I love that your video is upside down. Wow! what a beginning! You are so awesome. Thank you so much for the pictures. I felt the inspiration from your words and pictures. I will walk around the neighborhood with you in mind (not sure if we hit the same times).

  2. Sian! Awesome blog post and love the pictures…especially of the Mojito! Love it. I am hiking with you my friend. Talk to you soon.

  3. Gracias por compartir tú viaje por El Camino. I lived and attended the university in Pamplona, oh so many years ago. The paisaje is so beautiful, and you have captured the ambiente so well. God speed on your journey…..you always make the best of any situation! Good job on extending your first day’s jornada!

  4. Great start Sian,
    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh you have only just begun……….each day is a wonderful journey, physically and mentally…the stimulus from others as you have already begun to see will carry you along all the way to Santiago. Cheers!!!

  5. I am LOVING your journey. I hope there is wifi everywhere you go so you can post and keep us updated along the way! This is fantastic! (Did you bring extra phone batteries? How long can you last before a re-charge?) Anyway, your blog will be great summer entertainment!

  6. Awesome, Sian! Keep on keeping on! :D

  7. hi sian,
    sadly im back home with a felling of a quiter and leave u and the others, pasquale sarah and abby alone
    continue always with good spirits and one step at a time
    when we were back we talked that u were the one that has more chances to finish
    courage
    joca

  8. Welcome home Sian! I have been keeping abreast of your camino journey a bit on facebook but only now am I finally getting to read it ab initio! What a great bunch of pictures you took! Am looking forward to reading the whole journey.
    Congrats!
    Malcolm

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