We have finished week two of the Camino Francés. It turns out that all of the days start to blur together in a mix of early morning sunrises and sunny afternoons. Recently we’ve been able to walk about 8 kilometers (2 hours) before making our first breakfast stop. Then another two hours and we get to make sandwiches. Finally the last two hours and we make it to the albergue! Only to start over again the next day!
In the evenings, I have toured beautiful cathedrals, enjoyed the company of friends from around the world, soaked my feet and stretched out my sore muscles.
Some quick things we’ve learned.
We’ve learned that arriving to a city doesn’t mean you’ve arrived, you must make it to the albergue municipal and put your backpack in the backpack line.
We’ve learned that arriving to your bunk in the albergue doesn’t mean it’s time to rest, you must shower and then wash clothes and hang them to dry.
We’ve learned that a day of walking less than 25 kilometers is a treat, if you’ll allow yourself a day that short!
We’ve learned that with a group of friends you can make lunch, dinner, breakfast and morning snack for about €5 each.
We’ve learned that everyone needs to charge everything and were grateful to have brought a power strip.
We’ve learned that even when you think there are no more places to get blisters, there are. Trust me, there’s always a new spot, and blisters on blisters on blisters!
Finally, we’ve learned that everyone has a story and something meaningful to say and that walking long stretches across a country really gives you a lot of time to listen!
For those of you who don’t know, I am walking the Camino de Santiago! I am officially on my second week! We are walking from St. Jean, France to Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain.
There’s so many questions I get about my trip but one of the biggest ones is, “How do you know where to go?”
The thing is, I couldn’t show you on a normal map where I’m going on a daily basis. I know the end game, but each day all I know is I’m going to walk about 20-30 km and then maybe on a map of the Camino I could point to the cities we will go to that day! Really there’s no need for a map or a GPS. In order to know where to go, you follow the arrows or shells.
This first picture of me is one of the first shells that is marking “the way”. From here on out we have found arrows or shells in just about any place in the city you can imagine and made out of just about anything, it’s really fascinating!
This is actually one of my favorites! It may look like just a bunch of rocks to you, but if you look closely you can see that the rocks are carefully piled in stack after stack and to a pilgrim, it shows us to keep going!
I really enjoy seeing the creative ways that each city decides to mark their own Camino. I personally prefer the “fancier” and more creative arrows but really I am ok with any of them! They help me get where I need to be!
On the Camino Francés, I believe it’s very easy to find your way and stay on the trail! The trickiest part is within the cities! The Camino gets a bit crazy within the cities and paying attention is key!
Pilar, Adri and I have just started the Camino Francés! By just started, I mean a week ago. If you take a look at this map (that I stole from the internet), you can see where we are headed! The bold red line is more or less our route, ours is actually one step earlier than Roncesvalles! We started in St. Jean Pied de Port, France on a Monday afternoon!
One of the difficult things about starting the Camino is getting to St. Jean! We came from Madrid and I think took the best route possible!
On Monday morning Adri’s mom dropped us off at Atocha and at 7:35 we caught a train from Madrid to Pamplona and then took a taxi to the bus station in Pamplona…(well, we stopped at a sporting goods store quick to get sleeping bags for Pilar and I)…and then took a bus from Pamplona to St. Jean! The bus from Pamplona to St. Jean was enough to make anyone feel car sick so if you do get car sick, make sure to take some sort of anti nausea medicine if you decide to start your hike from there!
Please take note of our backpacks, don’t worry, within the first couple days we definitely realized they were too heavy and sent about 4 kilos worth of stuff to Adris house by snail mail!
Honestly, what I did before the Camino was read packing list after packing list! I seriously don’t know how I had (still have) so much stuff!
Day 1 (Madrid-Pamplona) St. Jean-Orisson:
7,5 km (difficult at mid-day with sun!)
We got from Madrid to St. Jean and went to get our pilgrims credentials!
Thanks, Anne! From there it was about 2:30 in the afternoon and we started walking to Orisson. If you know anything about weather in Spain, you know that their “hottest part of the day” is from about 2 to 5 pm. So, we had the great luck of walking through 100 degree temperatures! It definitely felt like it!
So, Orisson maybe halfway to Roncesvalles but we wanted to get ahead and we heard the hike from St. Jean to Roncesvalles was brutal! So this was our time to give ourselves an “easy” hike! It wasn’t easy at mid day by any means but I am so glad we did it! I couldn’t imagine having to go all the way from St. Jean to Roncesvalles on that first day. Not to mention the Albergue in Orisson is great! It’s expensive but it comes with dinner and breakfast included so the price balances out, the price per person was €35! At dinner in Orisson we got introduced to everyone and then went to bed around 9!
Also, another plus about Orisson is that there is an AMAZING sunrise in the morning!
Day 2 Orisson-Roncesvalles:
18,2 km (Wind and Pyrenees, be warned!)
Here we go, our first full day, through the Pyrenees! Wind. Wind. Wind. Oh, wind. I was pretty sure I would get blown off the mountain. As we walked, it was breathtakingly beautiful with lots and lots of hills.
In Roncesvalles we stayed at the Albergue municipal de Roncesvalles, I don’t think there’s another option, but I wouldn’t choose anything else! It wasn’t so bad! Day 3 Roncesvalles-Larrasoaña
27 km (Hills! So. Many. Hills. So. Hot)
We left Roncesvalles pretty early and saw our first sign for Santiago…only 790 km to go!
We left early, but who knows what happened and got in late, this was our longest day of the week! This day I sent Adri’s bag by messenger service which is why you will see Adri with my bag! We put the heavy stuff in his bag and sent it away, we were too tired to bother with all that weight!
It was a long day and I am so grateful we stayed at the Albergue San Nicolas instead of the Albergue municipal. Our Albergue was new and reformed and had a kitchen so we could cook!
Day 4 Larrasoaña-Zariquiegui
This day we passed by Pamplona and sent a few things because our bags weighed so much! We stayed at the Albergue San Andrés in Zariquiegui, it was ok but not much space to dry clothes!
Day 5 Zariquiegui-Cirauqui
Day 6 Cirauqui-Villamayor de Monjardín
Day 7 Villamayor de Monjardín-Viana
That finishes our first week on the Camino, how many