I’m Walking the Camino de Santiago

This is the post excerpt.


So, I’m doing this! At least that’s the plan.

On April 29, 2017 I leave Portland. On April 30, 2017 I arrive in Madrid, Spain, take the train to Pamplona and then a taxi to Roncesvalles and then maybe a bus to St Jean Pied de Port, France. I’ll decide my starting point when I get there, but wherever it is, May 1, 2017 I start walking. I will continue to walk for 30-33 days covering 450-484 miles.

I plan to use this blog to post my thoughts, observations, adventures, pictures, joys, tears etc… I bet you’ll mostly see and hear about the food and wine I consume and how much physical and emotional pain I’m in, so have fun reading all about it!

I’ll link to Facebook often. Please message me, I know I could use all the well wishes and “you can do it” I can get.

DAY 32 Lavacolla to Santiago 

Day 32. 6.3 miles. 3 hours. 

This is the last time I pack my bag with the intention of walking and nothing else. Everything on my back is all I have needed for the last month. Putting on my shoes for the last time seems to be especially difficult today. I’ve certainly had my ups and downs with the shoes but I just can’t seem to get them right today! The insoles and the laces… I’m not being weird on my last day at all. This has nothing to do with my journey coming to an end. It’s the shoes! Also there’s just something in my eye, I’ll get it out!

On the road! We set out for the last part of my journey to Santiago. Not a lot to see but we are taking our time. I’m anxious to get there but still trying to enjoy the walk. We arrive at the alto of our path today with a giant sculpture followed by a lovely manicured path and more amazing sculptures. We pass the albergue that up to 400 pilgrims stayed in last night, it looks sort of like a minimum security prison, super happy with our choice for the night. We start seeing signs of city

There’s Santiago! It’s going to take a bit to get to the cathedral and I’m putting one foot in front of the other but it feels really weird. How am I almost done with my walk? Do I want to be done? Am I ready to be done? Keep walking!

We wind through the streets and keep getting closer, I spot some familiar faces and turn a corner and all of a sudden there I am in Praza do Obradoiro! The cathedral is under renovation but is no less a beautiful sight to be seen by these very weary eyes. I’m overwhelmed. I know it for sure. I can’t believe I did this shit! I set a really weird goal to walk across Spain to Santiago and I did it. Not exactly the way I originally planned, but I got there!

I went through the worst physical pain I’ve ever experienced. Worked through some pretty challenging emotional pains. Sometimes those went hand in hand. 

Doubted myself. Coached myself. Surprised myself. Learned a lot about myself. 

I’m sure the real lessons from this journey will appear long after I return home. I know whatever these lessons are, they will be great and I hope I am a good pupil and listen carefully! 

Here’s some stats!…

437 miles traveled

314 miles by foot

123 miles by bus

32 days traveled

27 days walked

5 days rested

Most miles in one day=16.1

Biggest elevation gain in one day=2300 feet. 
Walked in temperatures ranging from 32 to 82 F. 

Hardest thing I’ve ever done? Yes!

Best thing I’ve ever done? Yes!

Thanks to everyone who has followed along and cheered me on! Your support kept me going, you may have no idea how much it meant, but I read every single word and every word was gold! 
Now get up and go do something you think is ridiculous!

DAY 31 Salceda to Lavacolla

Day 31. 11.2 miles. 5 hours. 

We are taking our time this morning. We have a shorter distance to cover and a reservation in the next town so we are in no hurry. 

We head downstairs to the Tia Teresa restaurant for breakfast. We are greated by Senor from last night with a “buenos niches”, haha. Erin orders croissant du chocolate and I order cafe con leche. Senor is taking great care with my coffee when I realize he is making a portrait of me in the milk. It’s adorable, I’m flattered and he is so great. We finish our breakfast, ask to pay and are refused! On the house! Why? Because we’re awesome!

On the road. It’s foggy! Really really foggy most of the day. 

We stop about 3/4 of the way through for lunch and I run into Rebecca from the first part of my trip. She is feeling so much better, has made up time and will get to Santiago tomorrow! I’m so happy she’s felling better! 

Were checked into our home for the night, relaxing, snacking, refreshing.

Guess what happens tomorrow? I walk to Santiago!

DAY 30 Melide to Salceda

Day 30. 15.8 miles. 7.5 hours

I told Erin we wouldn’t do more than 14 miles in any given day. Well, my calculations and mapping and strategizing are telling me the best route for today is just under 16 miles. We got this! Let’s do this! 
Long story short, we did this and it did not seem like 16 miles. I mean, toward the end we were really happy to be done but we are awesome today! I’m really proud of Erin. She’s hanging in there and is doing great. This is a long distance and this is her 4th day of long hikes. These are distances that are so normal to me at this point and having someone with me now just starting reminds me of this. This shit is kinda crazy. 

We arrive in Salceda. I booked a room at Casa Tia Teresa. Well, I booked 2 rooms by mistake and booking.com wouldn’t let me fix it. Oh well, worst case scenario I’m out €40 for that extra room. Through broken Spanglish on both ends and google translate, the super lovely proprietor says she will try to sell the extra room so I don’t get charged. We go to our room, get settled then head back down for cerveza when lovely tells us the room has already been sold! She us so happy for us because she felt bad about my mistake and didn’t wanf me to be charged twice! She’s so nice. 

We wander around for a while, not much to see or do except relax! I love the time after walking. It’s a lot of chillin’! 

We decide to dine at Tia Teresa. The woman of the casa is off duty and now the man is here and it’s about to get even better! Erin orders a veggie sandwich and explains she is vegetariano. He does not want her to get a sandwich and strongly suggests the eggs with veggies, she complies. I order the langostinos and I am strongly advised to order the specialty of the house, scallops. Ok, scallops it is. I am on the Camino and the scallop is kind of a thing here, so I suppose it’s a good idea. I order vino tinto and am scolded. Ok fine, vino blanco. I’m actually very happy with the service and being told what’s good. He’s also quite a character and very entertaining. This wine is some of the best I’ve ever had. The scallops? Erin is laughing at my food enjoyment noises. I’m really in love. Then dessert of Tarte de Santiago. This meal is one of my favorites ever. As in ever in life! The service, the food the wine, perfecto!

Pilgrims carry a scallop shell with them on this journey. I had one attached to my backpack that was an actual Oregon scallop shell. I lost it some time in the last week. One of my shells from tonight’s dinner is now attached to my backpack. This makes me very happy! 

DAY 29 Eirexe to Melide

Day 29. 13.7 miles. 7 hours. 

I have a cold. A dirty pilgrim cold. Damn dirty pilgrims! I’ve managed to sleep in the same room with hundreds of people over the last month and only now I get sick? C’mon, I’m in the home stretch here!! 

Still, we get on the road as early as possible. 7-ish? We stop at the first village of Portos only 2km away. I need tea! A Paso de Formiga (Ants Way) is super cute and the owner is so nice, we have empanadas and sit outside with the giant ant sculptures. 

Back on the road. We make it to our destination of Melide. We finally find our albergue (I know Erin’s stoked :)) and check in. This place is great! We have a bunk in a room with just 6 other women. The facility is super modern, with a really nice grassy outdoor area and a bar on site. We get wine and do laundry. 

Dinner time. Melide is known for its pulpo, octopus. It’s on! We go to a place I spotted on the way in town. I order the small plate of pulpo and potatoes. It’s still giant! Pulpo is boiled octopus, cut in pieces, drizzled with olive oil and dusted with salt and paprika. Perfecto! Now it’s Erin’s turn for dinner, we find a soy burger, we drink rose. 

Albergue slumber, here we come!

DAY 28 Portomarin to Eirexe

Day 28. 10.7 miles. 4 hours. 

On the trail at 7:30! We head up for quite a while, it’s cloudy and cool-perfect hiking weather. The crowd is much tamer than yesterday. We were trying to leave as close to 7 as possible to miss the crowds. We figured most were part of school and tour groups. It appears we have succeeded. 
This will be a shorter day than yesterday and should be pretty easy as a lot of the trail is on pavement. At one point Erin remarks we are hauling ass and she’s right! We are quick. I had picked 3 possible towns to stop in for the night depending on availability of beds as I had not made a reservation. We get to the first town, Ligonde, just after 11am. The albergue does not register people until 1pm. We continue to the next town, Eirexe, which has one albergue with 20 beds but doesn’t take reservations so is first cone first served. We decide to stay put so we’re sure to have a bed. We get lunch then check into the albergue once they open, €6. The beds are tight in this room, hopefully it doesn’t fill up! This might be the worst albergue shower. I don’t think I’ll shower. I only walk 10+ miles today, barely worked up a sweat. Not showering! 

We head down the road for dinner and I end up having one of my favorite meals ever! Caldo Gallego, again, but this is the best bowl so far. Also Bacalao Gallego, cod poached in oil with potatoes, salsa tomate, egg, and a crap ton of paprika. So good!

Back to the bunks! It’s Erin’s first albergue experience, I don’t think she’s amused but I think it’s kinda funny!

Night night!

DAY 27 Sarria to Portomarin

Day 27. 13.7 miles. 7 hours. 

Erin’s first day of walking is done! The trail today is a pretty good sample of what trails I have experienced all Camino. What I was not prepared for was the amount of people who have joined the trail at this point! There are hundreds of people in front and behind me! I keep remarking to erin about all the people but this is her first day and knows no different. At one point I apologize if I’m super grumpy but I’ve never been one for crowds and this is crazy to me. I’m very used to having the trail entirely to myself at times. Perhaps it will get better, I try to chill. 

We get to Portomarin, find our Pension, check in and go relax with some vino. The weather is cloudy, rainy, thunder here and there but we lucked out staying mostly dry on the walk! 

We head out for dinner of pasta next to the cathedral. I really like this cathedral, it’s very different than most others. 

Back to the room to sleep before doing again tomorrow. 

More short blog entries as Santiago is as near as it can get and I still want to post in order! 
Stay tuned!

DAYS 25 and 26 Samos to Sarria

Day 25. 9.2 miles. 3.5 hours. 
The monastery closes at 7:30 so I’m on the road by 7:15. There was thunder and lightning last night and I slept next to an open window. Aside from that, I slept quite well. The weather is calling for rain and more thunderstorms. I start off without my jacket and managed for about an hour, but it’s time to put in on, it’s really starting to come down. There’s the thunder. There it is again. Oh, there’s the lightning. You know how you count the seconds between the lightning and thunder to figure out how far away it is? What does it mean when there is a flash of lightning with thunder almost at the same time? There’s not much between Samos and Sarria in the way of rest or food, so I have snacks but I kind of need to keep moving with all this rain. I have seen only a few pilgrims on the trail today. Am I on the right trail? Did I take another detour without knowing it? Finally I stop under a tree to get some cheese out of my bag when here comes Epson from Denmark and his friend. I am the first person they’ve seen all day. 
The rest of the trail is grey and rainy. I start to see signs of a city nearing. Now I’m definitely in a city. I continue to follow the yellow arrows and turn a corner to find a staircase heading up into the heart of pilgrim Sarria. I find myself getting emotional as this place marks the beginning of the last part of my trip. My friend Erin will be here tomorrow which is also my last rest day. I climb the stairs and stop for coffee as the municipal albergue doesn’t open until 1pm and it’s barely 11am now. After coffee I head up the pilgrim path, find an albergue that is already open, they have room available and only €8. I’ll take it! I get checked in, showered, napped. Now I need to be fed. I’m like a giant baby here, very basic needs. 

I eat, walk around, drink wine, eat more, walk some more, go to bed!

Day 26. Rest day!
I check out of the albergue but ask if I can leave my bag and come pick it up in the afternoon. No problem! Everyone is so accommodating to pilgrims here! I leave and go find the train station where Erin will arrive this evening. Wander around the city. Got word from the Pension that I can check in anytime now. Head back toward the albergue where my bag is and decide to get lunch. I meet Krista from Nova Scotia and we decide to lunch together. Krista started in Leon and is on a similar schedule to mine, we’ll probably see each other on the trail. During lunch I see Marlow from Toronto and Suzie from Germany walking into town! Last saw them in Burgos. They are spending a rest day in Sarria tomorrow then heading to Santiago. Hope I get to see these ladies there! 

I pick up my bag and head to the Pension I’ve reserved for the night. I’m let in and it’s a really nice room with a giant bathtub! Twice the size of the one in Leon. I’m definitely getting in there! Ok, so I got in there, but on the way out, I slipped and when I went to catch myself my leg hit the side of the tub really hard. I have the most amazing bruise. I’m embarrassed to wear shorts for fear of someone asking me how I got it. It was no great story from the trail, just an injury from my private bathroom!

Time to go get Erin! I walk to the train station and it’s closed but you can enter the gate over to the tracks. Here it comes, I see it! The train stops and a ton of people come pouring through the doors. I look to md left then right, trying to spot her. I see her hair! (Sorry Erin). I run over so she sees me and then I start crying! I wasn’t expecting this reaction. This is the first familiar anything I’ve been in contact with for a month, let alone a friend! So weird! We walk back to the Pension and get her settled in. Dinner time! We head to an Italian family run restaurant up the hill on the Camino. We’re outside, we have food and wine and we’re in Spain! The thunder clouds start rolling in, and there’s the rain! We take cover and in walks Sophie from New Zealand! Haven’t seen her since Burgos! Everyone is starting to catch up with everyone and it’s really awesome!

Back to the Pension. Tomorrow will be Erin’s first day of walking, she gets no rest after a very long travel and we’re doing almost 14 miles! 

Sweet dreams!