29 November 2018 to 28 December 2018
After flying in from my fleeting visit to Naples, Italy (thanks to ferry delays from Sicily), I arrived to spend two nights in Logroño, Spain with local Nerea who I met off couch surfing. We got along so well. We have similar jobs and interests despite being from the opposite sides of the world to each other. She treated me to dinner from her cooking class and my own comfortable room – so very gratful.
(Beau also stayed with Nerea almost two weeks later – thank you for hosting both of us at seperate times Nerea!! 😁)
Logroño is a lovely town that I explored in preparing for the Camino de Santiago ahead. I decided on walking the Camino as a productive way to recover from my shoulder fracture whilst still travelling. I wasn’t ready to be on the bicycle so walking the Camino seemed like the correct fit as Beau cycled from Italy to catch back up with me again 🤗.
Before setting off by foot, I squeezed in a compulsory trip to see the orthopedic surgeon with a new xray and finally some great news. I can remove my sling!!!!
After the orthopaedic review it was straight onto a last minute visit to Decathlon for some extra hiking gear. Then a visit to the Municipal Alburgue to obtain the all important ‘Pilgram Passport’. Now it was time to take on the Camino de Santiago – St James Way (the most popular route).
1 December to 27 December 2018
Logroño to Santiago de Compostella to Finesterre, Spain (700km all by foot)
I started solo from Logroño which felt quite adventurous. I’ve done a lot of travel in the past for pleasure and work, but not really totally solo. It felt a bit intimidating with a big pack on and fresh out of the sling not even 24 hours and it was of course sprinkling rain as I started 🤔. Nonetheless I pushed on and day by day I felt more confident. I just needed assistance off locals or other pilgrams to get my pack on and off at times 😂.
Day 1 I walked about 5km solo until I met a fellow pilgram. A 22 year old Dutchman (new doctor) called Dirk (2m tall!!). He is well beyond his years and I slowly became close friends with him during the course of the whole journey (he was also my personal historian 😂😂). We had to wait for each other on a few too many occasions – Dirk for his size 48 boots to be repaired and me for my physio sessions. We taught each other patience that’s for sure lol.. I look forward to hearing what speciality he ends up in and where life takes him in the future. We had a lot of chats and pretty well know everything about each other now.
Later that first day I met Norman, a 55 year old Canadian. We spent only about 5 minutes together on my first day. I finished day 1 solo but pleased to have met others on route as I feared being winter it could be a lonely journey. Norman had done the Camino 7 x before this one and we ended up hiking together on day 2 and many days after that. This Camino was the first he finished in a group. We became very close and I was teary saying goodbye to him on Christmas. I feel happy to have had an impact on his journey as well and he promises me his next travels won’t be the same Camino again 😂. It was so nice to finish together and I know for sure we will keep in touch.
Further along the way in Leon I met an Irishman turned Englishman, Michael. 52 years old with the energy of an 18 year old. Seriously the best fun to be around – always many laughs. As he puts it a Brick a Day (1L vinto tinto) keeps the Doc away 😂. Yes underwear is ok to trot around in if you walked just under 40km that day 😆.
Lastly another person worth mentioning is Imri. An Israeli/American dude who was long term travelling too. I thank him for our chats and new perspectives he has provided me 😊.
It took me 24 days to walk from Logroño to the infamous finish line in Santiago, 612 odd kms later. We had a lot of bluebird days but also a day of snow and also lots of rain. Some days the scenery was simply stunning and honestly some days it was pretty dull. Here are a few happy snaps of my Camino:
Beau caught me up on his bicycle about midway through my route and stayed 3 nights 😎. He surprised me showing up as I thought he was still a day away!!
He then rode ahead and came back without his bicycle a week later to finish the Camino with me 😎. Such a sweet ending to our time apart and it also made the injury impact so very minor in the big scheme of things.
Day 24 into Santiago was just a mere 5km stroll to spend an enjoyable Christmas Eve. I never expected or planned to arrive by that date and was so proud to have averaged such big distances (including a few days just under 40km) to make it in this timeframe.
Arriving on Christmas Eve was fantastic and was spent with a good group of people met along the way and it was a wonderful celebration.
Anyway along the way these are some of the themes that developed:
What’s mine is mine and my things are mine was the attitude I seemed to develop in my life in Sydney before travelling. On the Camino I shared everything I had from anti inflammatory tablets to my precious chocolate stash 😂. One memorable evening was arriving in the evening with my main 3 friends. We had very minimal food after walking 35km and there were no shops. Through all laying out what we had we were able to scramble 3 slices of cheese, half a chorizo, peanuts together for dinner. Breakfast was half an apple and one third of a banana with a twice used teabag. We survived together had plentiful food to make up for it later 😂😂😂.
Proud to have taken on this journey by my own decision and solo (well sort of 😎😂).
For me, definitely the best part of the journey. I walked alone to start with but not for long. My new friends quickly became close friends with strong bonds. I had a special bond with Norman, Dirk and Michael. I expect a postcard from Dirk in 2028 reporting on who he married in life 😂😂.
They are real and definitely alive on the Camino. I had them on two separate occasions. At first I thought it was just me which was mortifying but I would say that the critters had at least a 50 percent strike rate on the people I met along the way. The bites itch like hell and were really horrible. Mine were mild compared to others. Fortunately on both occasions I had access to a washer and dryer and could put EVERYTHING in. Even checking the beds you can’t always see them. They were sneaking out of cracks in the walls one night!! My friend Norman had a treated bed sheet which I would certainly invest in and recommend to others…. I have since inherited Norman’s treated sheet. Thanks Norman!
I’ve physically and mentally pushed myself my whole life through sports, academia, work, activities and life in general. I’m competitive and I’ve always known that about myself. But there really was something special about the Camino. It wasn’t a race, an event or a competition in any way. It was a journey that I’ll never forget and a real highlight in all the unique experiences and challenges it provided me. I feel lucky to have made friends from all over the world and from all walks of life. Sharing our life details and everything in between. The Camino provided me with huge highs and massive lows. The rollercoaster is something memorable. In some strange way the disappointment of a broken shoulder allowed for time off bicycle touring for this magnificent journey to take place. As the saying goes it’s the journey and not the destination that matters (although the finish at Santiago and Finesterre were both pretty cool 😎).
Santiago to Finesterre with Beau
After so much time apart due to my injury, it was so nice to add on this last leg just the two of us. We both enjoyed the 3 long days hiking and we both felt elated by our months in Spain. Beau completed the Camino firstly via bicycle and then repeated the last couple of days sharing the end of my Camino and all the way to Finesterre.
After we finished in Finesterre we had plans to swiftly get to Porto in Portugal. We had a lovely stop in meeting a true legend Kiki and his mum in Vigo on our way. Thanks for hosting us.
Now the Spain chapter ends and our Portugal chapter begins (with just a little sneaky hitch hike as a finale 😛)