The Camino Fisterra & Muxia – A Recap

After a fairly exhausting (emotionally, mentally, physically – all the good stuff) arrival into Santiago de Compostela I was apprehensive to linger. And truly it was an apprehension built on fear – fear of stopping, fear of letting go, the fear of ending – compelling me to continue. I had four days up my sleeve and I was not interested in resting. Try as I might I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d made it all that way, a type of surrealism that crept up on me, disillusioned that each day I was getting closer and closer, nearer the finish line. And yet, I felt unsettled. Incomplete. Like this wasn’t supposed to be the end. And so without much thought or logic, I swiftly apologised to my feet that the rest day I had assured them was coming, was in fact another five days away. Four more days of walking sounded like a remedy rather than a reprimand. Besides, the ocean was calling.

And so off I went, I checked out of the pension, a real treat after many a night sleeping in bunk beds inches from newly acquainted walking companions. The twelve o-clock pilgrim mass was a must and something I felt my camino needed for perspective purposes. It was. A few goodbyes later, I turn my back on the cathedral and I’m making the journey towards Fisterra (literal translation: The End of the World).

Most people walk the Camino Fisterra in three days, and there are no hard and fast rules on where you should stop to break it up. I had no idea, just that day one would be short and the final two would be long. Well, that was the plan anyway.

Those of you who have remained devout will have already read my previous blog’s following the Camino del Norte & the Camino Primitivo and the day by day count continues on from here. If you’re time poor, all you need to know is that I started walking in San Sebastian on the north east of Spain with the intention to walk all the way to Santiago de Compostela, some eight hundred kilometers (and a few million steps) to the far west of Spain.

Last FACTZ:

Did you walk alone? Sometimes, but not always.

Were you ever without food and water? Sure, but not for long.

Did you get blisters? Were you injured? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get blisters, but no I was lucky elsewhere.

Did you use a guidebook? Yes, but it really wasn’t necessary

What did you pack? Read it here!

What did you miss most from home? My family and Moo!

Would you recommend I walk the camino? Without question.

Here we go…

Day 29, Word of the day: Emotional

Distance: 22km From: Santiago de Compostela To: Negreira

Day 30, Word of the day: Loved

Distance: 57km From: Negreira To: Cee (Taxi to Fisterra)

Day 31, Word of the day: Zero

Distance: 15km From: Fisterra (Taxi to Cee) To: Fisterra

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Made it to the End of the World!

Yep, you’ve read correctly – I technically cheated, then I technically undid the cheating by completing the journey properly. Why? Because two very special friends who double dared me to join them in Fisterra on Day 30. And, I guess other than not wanting to spend my last few nights alone, yolo. Did fifty seven kilometers feel worth it in the end? Yep, wouldn’t change it. Would have walked seventy three looking back, if only I had just a few extra hours up my sleeve.

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Arriving at Fisterra and seeing that zero kilometer mark felt like home to me. Feeling my lunges consume potent ocean breeze felt like breathing for the first time. A sense of awe inspiring peace washed over me and lingered just long enough for me to feel the effects of this one ‘hellofa walk.

The Camino Muxia

After arriving at Fisterra, everything (most things) was put into perspective and perhaps if I weren’t alone I would have simply stayed put but alas, I continued the last thirty odd kilometers to reach Muxia (moo-shia). Indifferent to whether the film The Way ended here, I decided just one more coastal walk should fill me with enough joy to last that twenty four hour flight back to a wintery Australia.

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Is it really the last day?

Overall, it was pleasant but not overwhelmingly beautiful. I was misinformed to thinking it was a coastal walk the entire way, when in fact it was really the last few kilometers.

Day 32, Word of the day: Fin

Distance: 33km From: Fisterra To: Muxia

Along the way I met eleven Catholic priests all walking together, now if that isn’t a good omen on a Catholic pilgrimage, I don’t know what is. They were kind to no end and feeling the warmth of complete strangers was the cherry on top of one beautiful experience. The following morning they invited me to join their convoy back to Santiago to which I obliged and said one of the many goodbyes of the journey. Upon arriving back in Santiago de Compostela, it looked the same and sounded the same, but it absolutely felt different. No more emotions, nor more fear, no more uncertainty. I was finished. Done. Completo. Fin.

So there you have it. My camino.

Hope you enjoyed.

xoxo.

 

 

The Camino Primitivo – A Recap

The Camino Primitivo – A Recap

If you enjoyed the blog last week on the Camino del Norte, I hope you’ll enjoy this next edition; everything Camino Primitivo. It’s not hard to tell from the name that the primitivo is the most organic of the many camino’s throughout Europe. The primitivo, also known as the original way, was the first recorded pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in the 9th century. Starting in the city of Oviedo, Asturias this route wraps around daunting mountain ranges,  sends you head first into delicate forests, rolling countryside villages with a sometimes eerie woodland interlude.  As you cross the border into Galicia, you’re rewarded with breathtaking views of whats to come and while there is still a decent amount of concrete to work through, the majority of your walking is soft underfoot.

What can I say, the Camino Primitivo felt different instantly. It had a different aura about it, a different vibe and that aura was potent. When it came to splitting from the Camino del Norte I wasn’t too sure I wanted to leave lapping shores, surfing prospects and sandy feet behind. But I’m glad I did, the hills were calling and I was ready to put my walking poles to good use.

What I enjoyed most about the Camino Primitivo was without question the rugged landscape. What I enjoyed least was the weather. Naturally, Galicia endures copious amounts of rainfall and even in June & July, this was no exaggeration. It rained most days. Great.

Facilities in general were a little more sparse, this meant pushing another 5km to get to the next town was virtually impossible. It did however make for genuinely getting to know your fellow pilgrims. A camino ‘family’ you’ll hear mentioned frequently is particularly easy to cultivate on this camino.

I mentioned last week I kept a journal throughout in the attempt to remember the experience. Writing has always been a cathartic process to assist in daily decompressing and this experience was no different. I dedicated a word a day to represent the walk, people or place. Below is my recap of the Camino Primitivo. But first:

FACTZ

Start: Oviedo

Finish: Santiago de Compostela

How many days: 11 days

How many kilometers: 320km over the Hospitales Route

Facilities on the Camino Primitivo were a little more sparse, but I didn’t really see this as a negative. One of the best things about this camino is that there are less retail and hospitality opportunities along the way, and while this can be daunting for some, those who need to take frequent breaks will merely be required to store some extra food in their packs – it really is a positive thing.

Dear reader I urge to to continue for the wonders of this camino are written all over each step taken, each breath exhaled and every moment in between. Continuing on from last week…

Day 18, Word of the day: Wind

Distance: 24km From: Oviedo To: Grado

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So close, but so far!

Day 19, Word of the day: Unexpected

Distance: 31km From: Grado To: Bodenaya

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One of the many babbling brooks

Day 20, Word of the day: Torrential

Distance: 24.5km From: Bodenaya To: Campiello

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Did someone order more rain?

Day 21, Word of the day: Wow

Distance: 29km From: Campiello To: Berducedo

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The hills most certainly are alive

Day 22, Word of the day: Steep

Distance: 20km From: Berducedo To: Grandas de Salime

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As far as the eye can see

Day 23, Word of the day: Glorious

Distance: 28km From: Grandas de Salime To: Fonsagrada

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No matter how small the town, there’s always a church!

Word of the day: Day 24 Panoramic

Distance: 33km From: Fonsagrada To: Castroverde

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Peace and quiet!

Day 25, Word of the day: Boring

Distance: 22km From: Castroverde To: Lugo

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More concrete? Really?

Day 26, Word of the day: Boo

Distance: 32km From: Lugo To: As Seixas

Day 27, Word of the day: Surreal

Distance: 33km From: As Seixas To: Pregotono

Day 28, Word of the day: Thank-you

Distance: 36km From: Pregotono To: Santiago de Compostela

Our daily routine as pilgrims is almost identical; wake up, eat something, walk, eat again, walk, eat again, wash your clothes, sleep. Then do it again, and again, and again. Dare I say it, I was scared to finish, to not be walking daily, my body was not only used to it, but actually enjoyed the motion, the mobility and the challenge. Which is why I couldn’t stop in Santiago de Compostela, I had to continue, to keep walking. I had 4 days up my sleeve and I was not going to stop now. I continued on out to Fisterra (literal translation: The end of the world) and then Muxia. Join me next week for the final camino edition!

And before you ask; arriving in Santiago de Compostela was an experience I’ll never forget. On one hand you’re extremely proud and relieved to have made it, meeting many along the way who may have had to discontinue due to various reasons. And on the other you’re sad, almost mourning the fact that after tomorrow, you’re no longer a pilgrim: You’re a tourist, in a city, sightseeing. It’s overwhelming.

I’ll never forget that feeling of arrival, that heaviness in my chest, that joy in my soul.

Until next week, xoxo

 

The Camino del Norte – A Recap

The Camino del Norte – A Recap

Why hello, long time no see! It’s been an overwhelming few months since returning back from my camino. What started as an idea to merely shuffle across Spain in fact turned out to be an epic 922km traipse from San Sebastian to Muxia. (If you have no idea what I’m on about, check out my last camino blog here.)

In fact, let’s be honest overwhelming is a bit of an understatement. A lot has been happening and it’s been tough to keep abreast of all the updates. For starters; I started a new job, I moved house (over the bridge, gasp!), I reclaimed my four legged fury friend: Chad and I’ve been trying to comprehend the internal shifts a 922km walk can do to a person.

I guess my first thought coming home was “what on earth will I do with my spare time now?” when every resting second was consumed pouring over camino blog posts or podcasts. The need to plan my next adventure was tugging at my sleeve (and quite rightly, still is).

What did I take away from this experience? Honestly I’m still trying to figure it all out. My experience felt somewhat polarising compared to the books I’d read or the movies I’d watched. I guess my experience was similar in the sense that it was hard work, tiresome at times, delicious in moments and peaceful to no end, in fact if i had to use one word to describe it i would use the word peaceful… not what you’d expect huh?

There are a lot of loose ends I’m still piecing together, but we’ll leave that for another day. I was thankful to speak with Dan Mullins upon completing the pilgrimage, Dan hosts: My Camino – The Podcast, (you can listen to my chat with Dan here if you’ve got some time) which really helped to expand my thoughts and acclimatise to my new life post camino. I’ve caught up with Dan since and I think meeting fellow pilgrims, especially ones as gracious as him, really allow you to discover that being a pilgrim really is like being a member of a tribe, something I’m grateful to feel apart of.

So, before I pour my heart out over the high’s and low’s let’s go through the key facts, below I’ve listed a day to day recap of the stages I covered across the Camino del Norte, I’ll come back to complete my notes about the Camino Primitivo and the stunning walk out to Fisterra & Muxia later.

FACTZ:

Start: San Sebastian, along the Camino del Norte

End: Muxia, along the Camino Muxia, joining from the Camino Fisterra

How many days: 32 days

How many kilometers: 922km (not counting the thousands of steps consumed when lost and once actually arriving at ones destination for the day)

Pack weight: I can’t be too sure, around 8 or 9kg with water and food

I wrote a journal each day as I was sure I would forget the names of places and people met. Truly it was a good idea, I was only ever in a town for just one night and so names of places left my mind as quickly as they entered. For each day I chose a word to represent that day… I don’t know if it helped for me to decompress after a day or just to remind me of certain sections… either way, they’re listed below with a photo to describe the place, people or setting.

Any questions or comments, please ask! I’m more than happy to help any future pilgrims in their planning – knowing first hand how useful previous pilgrim advice could be.

Enjoy!

Day 1, Word of the day: Ecstatic

Distance: 26km ~ From: San Sebastian To: Getaria

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Only a few more to go…
Day 2, Word of the day: Mud

Distance: 22.4km ~ From: Getaria To: Izarbide

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Flysch: A geological phenomenon
Day 3, Word of the day: Pine

Distance: 30.6km ~ From: Izarbide To: Muntibar

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Little yellow flecha to guide the way
Day 4, Word of the day: Relentless

Distance: 30.4km ~ From: Muntibar To: Larrabetzu

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Tortilla & Beer…and then more beer.
Day 5, Word of the day: Space

Distance: 14km ~ From: Larrabetzu To: Bilbao

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The Guggenheim…better out than in I always say!
Day 6, Word of the day: Asphalt

Distance:28km ~ From: Bilbao (train to Portugalete) To: Castro Urdiales

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Scallop shells guide us through the city landscape
Day 7, Word of the day: Compliment-Sandwich (Great, Constructive, Great!)

Distance: 33km ~ From: Castro Urdiales To: Laredo

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Sand = Shoes OFF!
Day 8, Word of the day: Sandy

Distance: 24km ~ From: Laredo To: San Miguel de Muruelo

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Are you following me?
Day 9, Word of the day: Heaven

Distance: 28km ~ From: Muruelo To: Santander

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Surfed here…it was my FAVOURITE day!
Day 10, Word of the day: Rogue

Distance: 34km ~ From: Santander To: Boo de Pielagos

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Should have only taken 3 hours, but I went the long way via the coast…worth it though!
Day 11, Word of the day: Energy

Distance: 36km ~ From: Boo de Pielagos (train to Requejada) To: Comillas

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Gaudi never ceases to amaze!
Day 12, Word of the day: Laugh

Distance: 28km ~ From: Comillas To: Columbres

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If I walk down, that means I have to walk up…should I?
Day 13, Word of the day: Why

Distance: 24km ~ From: Columbres To: Llanes

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Very hard to get lost…except when deep in contemplation

Day 14, Word of the day: Drizzle

Distance: 30km ~ From: Llanes To: Ribadesella

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The mid-morning savor
Day 15, Word of the day: Adios

Distance: 31.5km ~ From: Ribadesella To: Sebrayo

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All roads lead to Santiago

Day 16, Word of the day: Mist

Distance: 24km ~ From: Sebrayo To: La Vega de Sariego

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Open every day… except for today!
Day 17, Word of the day: Itch

Distance: 27km ~ From: La Vega de Sariego To: Oviedo

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Made it! 471km down, only 451 to go!
Well, if you’ve made it this far, I’m impressed! The Camino del Norte was a lonely experience, mostly meeting with other pilgrims at meals times. It gave me plenty of space to get into my own rhythm and sneak in a few museum/Gaudi exhibitions. The weather was tumultuous. One day it would be divine & another it would be a disaster. I learned to let go and just put my head down and get on with it. The Spanish culture, language and pace of life continues to inspire, intrigue and delight.

Until next time, xoxo

Why I’m voluntarily walking 800km across Spain…

Why I’m voluntarily walking 800km across Spain…

Last year I made the bold decision that 2017 needed something epic. Something big, something new and challenging, something so gigantic it’s going to leave a substantial imprint in my life forever. And so, I decided that this year, I would voluntarily walk 800kms across northern Spain… for fun!

For some of you, this will come as no shock, this epic adventure has actually been done countless times before. In fact millions of people make this commitment annually. It’s just that no-one I know is crazy enough to actually attempt it. This epic adventure also has a name: The Camino de Santiago aka The Way. The Camino is a religious pilgrimage route whereby pilgrim’s from all over the world walk from varying starting points that all lead to the same destination: Santiago de Compostela.

I can hear your questions already! Are you looking to find yourself? But you’re not religious, or are you? Are you seeking a spiritual reawakening? I thought you had to be Catholic to do that. What the hell are you thinking? (that last one I’m sure will come from quite a few of you!)

Legend states that the remains of apostle St James are within a shrine inside the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela (field of the stars) and walking all the way to witness this means a lot of stuff to a lot of people and no, you don’t have to be religious to walk it.

Some people walk as penance, some for enlightenment and others like me for the physical and mental challenge. They say that the Camino is a concoction of thirds. The first third is for the body, the second third for the mind and the final third for the soul. I can’t say what I believe in just yet – all I know is Spain is calling and this is something I NEED to do.

So! When am I going? I leave in early June and I’ll have 5 weeks to reach Santiago de Compostela. I can see you doing the math in your head as you read, so let me help you out: that equates to 22km per day, every day.

How did you find out about it? Back in 2013 I spent a month in Spain. I went there with an aim to practice my Spanish, learn about the art of siesta and learn some history along the way. During my time I had the opportunity to visit Barcelona (where the feature image came from, although my friend Jess is the true owner of this one), San Sebastian, Granada, Seville, Tarifa, Cadiz & Madrid.

I didn’t get to meet any pilgrims back in 2013, but I read this book: Sinning Across Spain by Ailsa Piper. It was then that my mind tolerated the idea, but promptly parked it for another day to dream about. Instead of starting down south like Ailsa I’ll begin in San Sebastian, my favourite place in Spain and will walk the Northern route (Camino de Norte) until it tears off and the original way commences (the Primitive Way) which is the oldest route, first taken in the 9th century. In Spain alone there are approximately 9 pilgrimage routes, but anyone who knows me will vouch for my love of the ocean and so walking along the cliff edges of Spain’s most northern coast line was too tempting to pass up.

Follow my journey from Sydney to Santiago over the next few months and please, please leave some tips if you’ve walked the way yourself.

From here, wish me luck!

Top 5 things to do in Barcelona, Spain

Top 5 things to do in Barcelona, Spain

Having recently discovered a mild (O.K definitely NOT mild) obsession with Spanish culture I decided to invest a month exploring all things Spain and it ended in one pretty sensational city, Barcelona. I met up with a long lost flat mate from Melbourne and we decided to tackle the city in 10 days, with a beach trip up north to Tossa De Mar just for good measure. Read on for some hot tips of where to go, see and eat!

Hire a bicycle

Barcelona is riddled with eye catching architecture, beaches oozing oily limbs and tapas restaurants that could fill you up with scent alone. And all of this can be viewed on two wheels. The city is very cycle friendly – although you won’t see much lyrca here moreover; frilly dresses, red lipstick and straw hats as people get from A to B. Getting lost really is the best way to see the city.

Check out the brilliance that is: Antoni Gaudi

A Neo-Gothic enthusiast from Catalian Spain in 1852-1926, Gaudi’s architecture is incredible individualised and distinctive. He’s most famous for his masterpiece Sagrada Familia, which started construction in the early 1900’s and to this day is unfinished. You could stare at it for hours and still find new things to look at. The story goes that all of the donations used to fund the construction must come from the people of Spain (La Familia) and not from overseas investors or NGO’s which is why it has taken so long. You’d be silly to miss: Park Guell, Casa Batillo and La Pedrera.

The La Boqueria food market, just off La Rambla

Fruits, nougat, nuts, tapas, meats, seafood, olives, cheese, you want it, they got it! You’re destined to be hungry just walking inside but even if your not it’s a must see for everyone! Stock up on some snacks, grab a coconut smoothie or simply take it all in.

Tibidabo

Just a short 15kms from the city centre consists of a big church on top of a mountain surrounded by an amusement park. And let me tell you, it’s much less cringe worthy than it sounds. The view of the city alone is well worth the trip, that combined with fresh air and silence from all that hustle and bustle is priceless.

La Playa (Beach)

Over here in Bondi it can feel quite comforting to know you are about 30 minutes from the city (workplace for many.) Well here, it’s more like 10 minutes. While i use the term beach loosely (zero waves for this keen surfer) the water is perfect for Stand Up Paddle boarding, sitting in blow up devices and frolicking along the shoreline. You will definitely see; topless women, sangria on the beach, volleyball and oily limbs!

So there you have it, my top 5 things to do in Barcelona. The place where sea meets city and all in all i think a city that can come to a halt just so people can sleep, rest or recuperate, i really think they know exactly HOW to live.

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