Posted in camino de santiago, Christian living, the way, Uncategorized, walking

Camino – How to Get There

In my previous blog I spoke on how to prepare to walk the Camino. In this blog I would like to share on how we actually got there.

As I have said it was a process of preparation over a 2 year process. Losing weight, gaining better health, studying, reading, and of course training by walking regularly were all a part of that process.

I checked on many sites to see what the cost would most likely be to walk the Camino as well as cost of food and accommodation.  We were living back in Australia at the time so an airfare to Europe was a great cost.

  1. So the first thing to consider is when will you undertake walking the Way?

As we don’t like crowds, we decided that either spring or autumn would be our preference to walk. Due to time constraints we settled on autumn. I am an autumn girl and love the colours of fall so this was really great for me.

Weather in Northwest Spain in October is usually warm but not hot, we found this to be so with some cooler days and nights. Generally it was pleasant. You can expect some rain (unless you travel with Paul – more on that later).   Galacia is Spain’s wettest region and on average,  rains 18 days out of 31 in October.  Santiago de Compostela averages between 64 degrees and average lows 55 degrees.

We found these temperatures to be pretty accurate with some fog in certain areas. Some times there were light showers as we headed out in the morning but by mid morning it would fine up to become sunny. Paul had a special anointing and was spoiled with the weather. He prayed because he hates wet feet and started believing for fine weather. Almost immediately the sun came out and stayed for nearly 3 weeks! We really only had a few days of heavier, uncomfortable rainfalls early on – hence the prayers. This is not normal, particularly in Galacia! So be prepared with wet gear and good weatherproof shoes!

The wind and changeable weather on the Pyrenees can not be underestimated and you need to be prepared for that.

We also liked that there was fewer people on the Camino. One issue starting mid autumn was the amount of albergues that were closed or closing for the season. Spring also has the same but reversed with some not being open yet for the start of the season. Winter there are even fewer albergues  open so a lot of research and preparation needs to be done! Summer has its own challenges with so many vying for a bed for the night and space on the walk.

2. You’ve chosen the season, now where are you going to start the walk?

Most choose the Frances Camino which starts most commonly from St Jean Pied de Port. We chose to warm up by walking two days from Bayonne. There are many other points of starting and ways to traverse, France and Spain. It is purely up to you which direction you start from and which way you head. We actually met a couple walking the Camino backwards, starting at Santiago and walking back to St Jean! We chose the most common route to begin with but who knows where we will go next time!

Some of our friends flew or trained it from Barcelona. It really depends on where you are coming from and where you want to start from.

3. You’ve chosen the season and the route, now how much is it going to cost?

The average day:

  1. AIRFARES – Of course this depends on where you are starting from. We flew from Sydney to Paris. From Paris we took a train trip down to Bayonne in the South of France where we actually walked two days to the jump off point of St Jean Pied De Port. From Santiago De Compostella, after having spoken to some people on the Way we decided to self-drive through Portugal and then across to Barcelona where we flew back to Paris. These are all costs that need to be allowed for.
  2. HOTELS – We slept mostly in the Albergues, the hostels that you will find in nearly every town you come to.  At that time of year and in 2015 the fees were about Euro 10-15 per bed per night. I see that some are saying currently it has risen to nearly Euro 30 per night We paid more for the odd hotel stay but rarely more than Euro Euro 30- 35 per night. We wanted to experience being with others but did enjoy the alone nights as well. Some paid much more when they arrived in Santiago staying in an up market hotel to celebrate their completion. On reflection I would do that too next time.  Because we hadn’t pre-booked we had to take what we could get. Summer would be much worse! It is up to you what you choose to pay but I would suggest getting more up to date costs before you head off. Some chose to camp along the Way too but I would be considering what you need to carry to do that!

3. FOOD – We set ourselves a 30 Euro a day budget each, but probably would be closer to 35 Euro per day. We found the Pilgrim meals, a three course meal most towns offer, for 13-15 Euro were fine and economical. We often bought lunch, cheese, bread or other foods, from the little food places or markets along the way. Sometimes we ate at a restaurant but they were fairly inexpensive. Tapas bars are a great way to eat economically too.  It’s your choice on your budget.

4. INCIDENTALS – We probably allowed 10 Euro per day for these including pharmacy items, but I would suggest shopping at larger stores as some of these were very expensive particularly when dealing in Euros.  Mostly I brought medicines and other items from Australia but you must consider the weight factor of carrying as opposed to buying along the Way.

All up our total budget for the two of us was 4000 Euros exclusive of return air fares to Australia and doesn’t include the cost of setting up your kit or travel insurance. This did include our train fare, hire car and flights to Paris to fly home and we had some cash left over. I would have preferred to train it back to Paris but we left the run too late and from an overnight fare costing 100 or so Euros, booking on the day of travel would have cost over 500 Euros – each! So we booked a cheap air fare and flew to Paris for lunch before our flight that night back to Australia. I could then say, “My husband flew me to Paris for lunch!”

These are suggestions and there are a lot of sites with up to date information which I again suggest you read. Some of the forums give great information but ultimately half the adventure and fun of the Camino journey is working it out as you go along!

Bein Camino!

Until next time

Blessings Narelle

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Walking the Camino – How to Prepare

The Camino de Santiago is an 800 km or 500 mile walk through France and Spain. It is a pilgrimage walk that has been around for thousands of years that has many trails originating around Europe. It was said that you could step outside your door and begin the pilgrimage from anywhere in Europe. During the time of occupation by the Ottomans in Jerusalem the Way of St James became a safer pilgrimage and acceptable in the eyes of the church for pilgrimage absolution.

St James was supposedly buried there after having floated there from Jerusalem on a ruder-less boat. I don’t know about that. There are many beliefs surrounding the pilgrimage that many believe or don’t believe but there is one binding factor with nearly all pilgrims who we encountered or spoke to had one thing in common: the sense of being called to walk The Way!

Many including myself when they find out about the Camino Way have a strong sense that not only would they like to do the long walk but there is a strong feeling of “having” to do the walk.

For me it started after I watched the movie, “The Way”, written and directed by Emilio Esteves and starring his father Martin Sheen.  It is the story of a father who completes the trek after his son dies on the Way getting caught in bad weather: something that is a common occurrence as seen by the memorial headstones dotted along the pathways.

Once I saw the film I knew I had to do it. But at the time I was pretty much chair bound with illness and pain. However, within a couple of years I set the date to make the journey.

It was 2 years down the track, the year we celebrated 40 years of marriage and Paul turned 60. Also, it would give me time to gain my health back, while starting to train for the walk.

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In training in the Philippines. Early hours of the morning because past sun rise, the heat was too much.

One of the first thing I did was buy a pair of comfy training shoes. They were light, a size larger then I needed (to help with blisters), and didn’t confine my feet and cause pain. The first pair of shoes that didn’t cause me pain!

I walked in rain, in the cold, the heat, the day, the dark, by myself, and with others. The time rolled by as the miles did.

So here are some of the preparations myself and Paul underwent to prepare for the Camino.

  1. Set a date – Setting a date  brings the goal into focus and plans will begin to take shape.
  2. Train – Set up a training program and stick to it. I tried to do at least 6-8 kilometers a day more on others in any kind of weather, wet, cold, hot, everything except for thunderstorms – They were a no go!  I would also recommend stretches to build strength. The one I didn’t do enough of was to door more hill climbs.
  3. Carry a pack – The more I started to walk I would add weights to a pack to increase my ability to carry a pack. I even used coral rock in the Philippines to get used to the added weight.
  4. Study – Increase your knowledge of the paths you will follow. Understanding the terrain and what is ahead in terms of weather, and accommodation. Also understanding how diet and water affects walking.
  5. Purchase the correct equipment –

       –  Pack – We changed Paul’s pack right at the end. It has to have a waist band to                 take the weight and not pull on the shoulders.

–  Rainwear  – A good rain coat is important. We will probably go with the Atalaa next time. Our ponchos were ok but not great. They needed to be longer although they were light weight – always a consideration. The Atalaa people seemed to just cruise by unscathed by the weather on themselves or their packs.

Footwear – Of course it goes without saying – correct footwear is a must. I was told to go a size bigger and it worked. Two pairs of socks fill the gaps. Duct tape is a must. Prevents blistering!

Underwear. We opted mainly for bamboo socks and jocks. I would hope for a better fitting pair next time that dried quicker. Also undergarments that wick moisture away from your body too.

 – Poles – this is not last for any reason but they definitely were our definite bring along. Some did walk without them – good luck to them. I would never think of it! They were invaluable. Spring loaded were good but not particularly necessary. We didn’t go very expensive due to financial constraints and it really didn’t seem to make a difference, except the tips do wear out after 40 days of pounding. They can be purchased along the way.

6. Stay the course – There may be  road blocks or at least detours so persevere. Keep focused. Don’t give up!

 

 

 

Posted in camino de santiago, Christian living, energy, health and wellness, Life, Night shade Allergies, Uncategorized, walking, weight loss

Weight Loss Confusion!

Watching someone try to lose weight rapidly and discover the “journey” of weight loss and awareness of calories etc, has reminded me of just how consuming the whole concept of weight loss can be.

In 2012 when one of my daughters was encouraged to go on a Paleo diet for urgent health reasons, we both emptied our cupboards and cleansed! I also remember the absolute shock I felt as I discovered for years I had been looking at charts rather than the ingredients on products – sugars, salts, fats etc as compared to what was actually in the product. The shock stayed with me for months as I navigated the labyrinth of labels and what I thought were healthy alternatives only to discover they were laden literally with “poisons.”

I also remember the confusion of what is “healthy” and what diet is best etc. etc.

Here are 5 keys I have learned to help people maneuver  the “diet” world.

  1. Dieting sucks – lifestyle change has to be your mindset.

A “diet” insinuates a limited time span; a beginning and an end. Dietary changes have to be a life time mentality – unending. There may need to be a period of getting back on track or staying on track which requires a kick start but then you have to always be conscious of what you are putting in your mouth and why!

2.  Mindset is priority – Why do you overeat?

There is a whole psychology around overeating and I don’t intend to get in to it here as there are many reasons why people overeat: sadness, grief, rebellion, laziness, low self-esteem, comfort and the list continues. The benefit of a “time-frame” or health scare  can push us on-wards to changing our mindset to want to change our negative life habits permanently. That is only a kick start though and you have to realize this has to be a life style change – otherwise that weight will come back and stick like glue!

3.  Find what works for you – Find what will keep you motivated.

For me doing life in a gym or pool is never going to keep me motivated. Fresh air, meeting people, walking a dog, finding new paths, these are motivating and invigorating. Finding foods that work for me without making me feel I am missing out also helps keep me motivated. High allergies or intolerance from night shade plants, cause me some issues and can become frustrating but I have discovered that I love feeling well so not feeling well for the sake of a few mouthfuls is a high motivating factor! I really recommend initially working with a health professional to ensure there are no underlying issues and then find what will keep you motivated and interested in food control.

4.  Moderation – How much and what to eat!

There is so much confusion in terms of, “eat this – don’t eat that”. For example, eat eggs; don’t eat eggs. Eat butter; Don’t eat butter. Eat meat; Don’t eat meat. The lists go on. I believe God gave us everything to enjoy! It’s the over indulgence that is the issue for most western cultures. Limit the sugar, salt and fat products and you will see a change too.

So long as you use more then you put in you can keep the weight down. My husband, Paul has no issues with this one and really doesn’t understand my struggles  because he is constantly on the go and utilizes all he consumes. I on the other hand am more sedentary and have to work hard to do the same. My last few kilos I need to lose and have struggled with, mean I have to increase my burning and decrease my intake even more.

5. No Excuses

I can make all the excuses for why I am obese – too tired, too sick, too old, too much work but my health has to remain the utmost priority as it affects every area of my life. There is no excuse to maintain unhealthy life-style habits.

So these are 5 keys I have discovered over the past years of food issues and I will explore them more fully as I continue my journey of lifestyle habit changes.

Until next time – keep persevering. You don’t stop if you don’t stop!

Blessings Narelle

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Making it to the top of the ridge, following the thousands of pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago or the Way who have passed this way before: a far cry from the couch potato of yesteryear! Determine today to follow the lead of those who have walked the paths of life style change!