Monday, March 31, 2008

post camino thoughts....

ok, so this trip to the north was meant to be an escape from the smoky crowded noisy city to the calm peace of the seaside and the relaxing rhythm of walking each day and meeting new people each night. I was prepared for all weather and really looking forward to the challenge.

Sadly, it was not all i hoped.

The weather all over Spain for Easter was strange - I am used to the joke about it always raining over Easter in Sydney, but apparently they have the same joke here.... and rain t did.

I dont really mind walking in the rain, in fact its quite calming if its not flooding your path or making it full of sticky mud......but my problem this time was waterproofing. My "yes, maam, its totally waterproof" pack cover is not as waterproof as I would have hoped. Much like sleeping in a tent in the rain, when you touch the sides, little rivers of rain soak your bed. Well, these little rivers made great friends with my dry set of clothes, so after a very long and very frustrating day searching for non-existent way-markings, I pulled into the "closed for renovations" pilgrim hostel, trudged on with the last of my energy to an overpriced room i a hotel to find every item wet enough to make them unwearable. So I passed a lonely night rotating my clothes over the spluttering heater and watched "FAME" in spanish.

I stayed in the north for 5 days and then decided to cut my loses and go back to Madrid. In all that time, with misdirections, closed or non existent accommodation, easter prices, and total lack of "camino spirit" I only managed to walk about 18-20 km on 4 of the days and nowhere near the 117km I hoped to cover. I was so disappointed - and it was temporary - that I felt like Id "failed" or something. It took me a day or two to settle back after the aborted mission and now I see it for what it was - a good break, a bit of reconnaissance, and ann opportunity to see Bilbao (big and industrial) and Santander (beachy and lovely).

So after complaining to Ruben, he reminded me that we are only a 4 hour train ride away and can easily go back in the warmer months when the hostels are open and enjoy it together!

So, not an amazing adventure but there is always something to take away from these things. Plus I got to talk to cows and goats again in twisting winding country roads, so it was worth it for that alone.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bilbao DAY 1

After being a little nervous and apprehensive this week I finally boarded the train and took the 6 hours to Bilbao, main port of the Basque region. And I feel really good now - once I start one of these trips, the nerves wear off once Im on the road and everything pans out in a calm, orderly way. Of course I dont know what Im doing or where Im going, but that means that I can be flexible and see what happens naturally. So, today I feel strong (mentally) and a litle underprepared physically. Today will be a good test for what my body is capable of this week....

I would like to start the Camino today but I dont know where it is, so now that ive had the complimentary breakfast from my hostel (very nice one here), I will see if the lady at reception knows anything, and if so, Ill get started. Otherwise Ill need to stay here to the day, venture into the centre, wait for the Information to open and get some maps etc there. But think Id rather head off.

ITs a grey and cool day but thats perfect walking weather for me. As long as it doesnt bucket down, Ill be happy.

So, more soon - Im off to investigate.....

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Eve of the Camino Norte - Easter wanderings

OK - so 2 years after jetting off for my 1000km Camino de Santiago experience, and after swearing that I would¨"one day" get back on the road, I am on the verge of setting off on a new Camino adventure.

Perhaps after the first effort I would feel more calm and relaxed but Im afraid thats not so. Ok, so this one isnt so far from "home", but still its a route totally unknown.

In order to have a new challenge I decided to not return to the Camino Frances - the route I took in 2006, and one that is very popular and populated, and instead have opted for the one by the sea!!

I take the train to Bilbao tomorrow then will walk about 170 km through the week to Santander.

I know very little about this way except that it has many fewer people, less places to stay and less markings along the road.

BUT, Im going to be in the fresh coastal air surrounded by the best scenery and food in Spain so Im sure Ill cope if I go off track accidently (or otherwise)

So Ill check in again soon and update you on my progress!! Wish me luck