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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Camino Diary Entries

This is a complete transcript. I've left everything in. Please keep in mind that I had been hiking every day for over a month. Things got a bit weird. Enjoy.


Day 1
After a very late bus ride I arrived in Bayonne. The first person I spoke to when I got off the bus was Pavlo, who was also doing the Camino. We caught a train and a bus to Saint Jean Pied de Port, picked up our pilgrim passports and started walking. I also met a man from Austria named Johannes and two German girls named Kadda and Janey. We Hiked over the Pyrenees together. It was intense, harder than I had expected. We hiked down to Roncesvalles where the five of us got dinner and then beers and ended up back at the hostel late and received quite a stern talking to. I felt like I was on school camp. It was a really great first day. Buen Camino!  [video of first day: click here]


Walking towards Roncesvalles with my new friends
Day 2
The lights in the hostel were turned on at 6am and I started walking alone at 7am. After getting breakfast, Austria, Kadda, and Janay caught up and I started walking with them. We got coffee and there was a really cute husky. We had a siesta around lunchtime and then kept walking. We were worried that we wouldn't find Pavlo. We came to Zubiri and the girls wanted to sleep for the night so Austria and I went ahead on a mission to find Pavlo. We found him! We found a pension and went to get well deserved beers. I truly relaxed. (BEST BEER EVER!!!)


Walking ahead with Austria to find Pavlo
Day 3
Today we woke up and met the German girls at the at the supermarket. The five of us hiked for a couple of hours. It was easy to tell that the grass was getting a bit more yellow and that soon it would be very hot. We found a river with a 5m high bridge and we couldn't turn down jumping off it. We also jumped off a 7m high tree. This was definitely a highlight of my trip. When we finally got to Pamplona Austria went off to meet his friends. The four of us went to the albergue. We went out for tapas and beers which was very nice. I think Austria, Kadda, Janey and I will stay in Pamplona for two nights. Pavlo has to move on to meet up with his girlfriend. We will see him later.


The 7m high tree
Day 4
Today I woke up and had a somewhat lazy morning. I sent 4kgs worth of gear forward to Santiago. It made me feel much better. I also sent a postcard home to Stephen. We left just after midday from Pamplona and Janey and I alternated between walking alone and walking together.Walking alone was interesting. I enjoyed it. We met Kadda at the end of the day and went out for dinner. I had a Bocadillo. Pavlo is just one town ahead of us so we are hoping to meet him tomorrow. I was wondering if I could study at 5 universities for my 5 year degree?

Day 5

Today was the hardest day of the Camino so far. We walked and we had fun for a few hours but all of a sudden a dark cloud covered the group and we went silent. I think we all thought about the wrong things in our lives. It wasn't easy. I suppose it had to happen eventually. The Camino is supposed to be a challenge, not a holiday. We walked from Obaros to Estella. At dinner time we all started to feel a lot better. We drank sangria on the stairwell and watched the fireworks. The girls went to sleep and Pavlo and I talked about how I want to find the perfect mix of head and heart in my life. Sometimes drinking cheap sangria on a stairwell can fix everything.

Day 6

Today I heard that Astrid Spelman [a friend from school] had died. May her beautiful soul rest in peace.



Day 7
I woke up early after a hard night. Astrid just kept coming to mind and tears to my eyes. We started walking from Los Arcos and I walked for 7 or 8km without looking back once. Constantly thinking of Astrid's smile. She was much too young to be taken from us. It was a hot day of walking and we had very few breaks. The final 11km stretch just seemed so long. The sun kept beating down on us and I really just wanted to see the city. I played my harmonica while I walked. It seems to make people happy. Astrid has definitely been added to the list of reasons I am walking the Camino. I want to pray for her in Santiago. I hope I can think of other things but at the same time I hope she never leaves my mind.

Day 8

Today we got up for an early start. Austria, Janey and I set forth and Janey was having a tough time so Austria and I carried her pack to the next city. We stopped somewhere for a lunch break and decided that we would stop in a closer city this evening for the night. At some point we lost Austria and his phone was dead so we didn't find him again. Pavlo, Kadda, Janey, and I all had a very relaxed evening. We made pasta for dinner and Kadda and I went for a walk for dinner #2. I watched the sunset with Kadda. It was really nice. We have a big 31km day tomorrow. I hope I survive but I think my chances are slim.

Day 9

So today was a long day but it somehow went surprisingly quickly. I started early and didn't take many breaks. It was a boiling hot day and at one point a barman filled my water sack with ice and it made me feel so so so happy. I listened to music while I walked and I think it made the time pass quickly. I met Terrence, who worked as an investor and it seemed like he lived a very carefree and exciting life. I would love to be able to work only a few hours and just live for the rest of the week. We arrived in Santa Domingo and had a big family dinner. It was great.

Day 10

Today was only supposed to be a 24km day but the heat made it feel much longer. I walked without the group for the first half of the day, and walked with the group for the second half of the day. The most exciting thing about arriving at the albergue is that there was a... SWIMMING POOL! I went for a swim which was fantastic and relaxing. We went grocery shopping. We drank sangria which made me really happy. Rob messaged me saying that he will be in Paris in September. I will try to meet him.


Sangria with the camino crew.
Day 11
Today Pavlo left very early and we caught up with him in time for lunch. We all prayed in the church. In a game of odds Austria lost and he ran across the hay fields naked. He said it was amazing. It was the funniest thing I've seen in a while.

Day 12

Today we had a nice walk to Burgos. At one stage my hat fell off and I didn't realise so I had to walk back to retrieve it. It felt like a metaphor. We had tapas for dinner and a few beers around the city. Burgos is beautiful. It's always great having the Camino family together. Perfect even.

Day 13

31km day. Kadda and I set off early and she told me about her family. It was nice that she opened up. My toe was hurting the whole day. I think it may be broken. It was hard not to limp for a lot of the walk. Kadda and I stopped for a siesta and by the time we woke up the others had passed us. The final walk to the village and when we finally got there we couldn't find a bed so ended up staying in a hotel for 13 Euros each. I had pizza for dinner and it was a nice village. The night went too quick.



Day 14
We left the village nice and early. Pavlo had lost a game of odds last night and had to start walking at 4am. I walked alone for most of the day and eventually Austria caught up while I was playing my harmonica. The hostel had a swimming pool and I lost a game of odds and had to attempt a backflip into the pool. We swam and drank and it was a lovely evening. I even got a chance to free up some space on my camera which made me very happy. Pavlo told us that he had broken up with his girlfriend and would be able to walk the rest of the way with us. It's good that he's changing his life. I'm proud of him.

Day 15

Today was a day of Spanish! I listened to my Spanish podcast and I thought I was catching on pretty quickly. I also walked with Katie for a while and she is a Spanish teacher which helped. When we got to the town we couldn't find a place to sleep. We eventually found a hotel and the 5 of us + Katie were able to split the room and only paid 10 Euros each. I got very hungry while I was waiting for everybody to shower and when I finally got food it was soooo good. We drank wine in the hotel room and fell asleep pretty early. Very interested in investing at the moment. Hoping to start soon.

Day 16

Woke up rather late and went to the bakery and had the BEST DONUT EVER! So I went and bought more. I started walking and listened to Motley fool for the first time. The walking was easy today. Kadda was having a rough time at one point. We stopped earlier than we thought we would because we heard there would be no beds up ahead. We made pasta for dinner and I had three ice creams. I really am an ice cream cowboy. Hoping for a cloudy day tomorrow.



Day 17

Today Kadda and I walked together the whole way. It was our longest day yet. The Camino is supposed to be such a free experience and I'm starting to think it mirrors the lifestyle of a prison. You are told when to wake up. You are told when to sleep. You do the same thing everyday. You can hardly choose what you eat and are offered the 'pilgrim's menu'. The largest or strongest point of my metaphor is that my Camino prison has a warden: the sun. It tells you when you can leave a village. It screams at you to wake up and you only know it's safe to sleep when it goes to sleep itself. I was sentenced to 33 days and I pray I don't feel the need to attempt an escape.

Day 18

We arrived in Leon and checked into the San Fransisco albergue. The night before we had met Pavlo (Spanish), Pepe, and Naomi. It was a 40km day so we were all very very tired. We had a beautiful tapas dinner and had lots of beer before Kadda and I went for dinner #2 (KEBABS!).

Day 19

We had a very long walking day and we found an albergue with a swimming pool! It was my favourite so far. We had a beautiful Spanish dinner and then played music with the albergue's instruments while the sun went down. It was such a relaxing night. At one point I was lying in a hammock watching the stars above me. It was beautiful.

Day 20

So I started the morning walking with Austria, Pepe, Pavlo etc and I had a good walk with my podcasts. I'm getting very interested in the art of learning. When we got to the city of Astorga I liked it so much that I decided to stop a bit early and let Polish Pavlo & the German girls catch up. We made pasta and I talked to Julia from Italy and Hayley from California after dinner. At one point I started playing the harmonic and a group of 10 or so people clapped as I played. It was an amazing feeling. We sang happy birthday to a complete stranger and I think I'm finally starting to like the taste of wine.

Day 21

Today I walked with the two Pavlos. We walked at a fairly relaxed pace and I had an amazing hamburger for lunch. We entered the mountains which was great because it meant a change in scenery. The three of us arrived in the town and all four albergues were full.  After trying to figure something out for about an hour we were told that we could sleep on the floor of the first albergue for free. For some reason I felt a bit spaced in the evening. I felt like the last week had passed by in fast forward before I had the chance to grasp at it. I did have a great laugh about two goats in the town. They kept climbing things. It was so great.


Burgers with the two Pavlos
Day 22
Since Kadda lost my guidebook I've been a bit clueless about everything 'Camino'. The albergue we arrived in didn't have any beds left so they put us on black gym mats. They also didn't have any blankets. Pavlo and I spoke to a priest from Germany and we went to the mass he held afterwards. I had soy chocolate milk and donuts for dinner, and a little bit of spaghetti. Kadda and I sat outside the albergue drinking beer and eating ice cream. I'm wondering if the group dynamic will change when her 'half boyfriend' [the way she described him] Benny shows up. I thought about Oaktree a lot today. Not very long to go now. Santiago, here I come.



Day 23
Today I walked by myself. I ate a huge bunch of grapes and finished walking by midday. It was a very quick walk for me. I got a very nice bed and went for a walk to get a kebab. I went to an internet cafe and booked a bus to Porto and a flight to London to meet Sam [a friend from school]. I microwaved a pizza for dinner  and after listening to a Tim Ferriss podcast on decision making I decided to invest $1000 in the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. I do hope this wasn't incredibly stupid of me. I'm either an idiot or a genius. 

Day 24

Today I woke up and the albergue was empty so I knew it would be difficult to get a bed in the next town. I walked very fast. It was such beautiful countryside! When I got to the town on the top of the mountain I had missed out on a bed and ended up splitting a hotel with a man named Yongnuk. He's from Korea and designs different kinds of plastic. I met another man painting a sign and he let me use his sandpaper and varnish to fix up my walking stick. I drank with Janey, Kadda, and a few Spanish men. I went back to the hotel room and fell asleep after talking to Yongnuk for a little while. It was a great sleep too.


I had to cut my walking stick into 3 pieces to get it home to Australia
Day 25
Today I started early and walked to where Kadda, Janey, and I had planned to sleep. I checked into an albergue and then at a cafe they told me some Spanish guys had reserved bed for them (Kadda & Janey) up ahead. It made me feel rather alone. I had a great evening with Hayley, Simon and Yongnuk. I also booked busses to Amsterdam and Brussels. 

Day 26

I woke up at 6am and started walking alone. It was dark and I was walking through a forest and it was very scary. I finally caught up with Pepe, Silvia, Phillip, and Lindsey. They were VERY excited to see me. I found Pavlo in the beautiful lakeside village of Portomarin. We drank a lot and back at the albergue I fell over coming out of the bathroom. It was probably a combination of drinking and walking 40km that day. 


Entering Portomarin
Day 27
Pavlo and I were both up and walking pretty early. We walked and to be quite honest, we were going a bit Camino crazy. We would just randomly start laughing or screaming and it just went on and on until we were out of energy. We arrived in the municipal albergue where we met lots of nice people. I met a girl with bright blue eyes from London, her name was Jess (+44759981****). We all drank and explained what we were doing in this part of the world. I also saw Johannes [Austria] for the first time in 10 days or so. It was fantastic. 

Day 28 

This morning Pavlo, Johannes, Giovanna, and I all went for coffee and breakfast. I had orange juice for the first time in quite a while. It was the first rainy day of the Camino for us. I bought a rain protecter for my backpack because I was afraid my hard drive and diary would get wet. We met Jess and she told me that we could hang out in London [we later did]. For dinner I showed everyone how to make toasted sandwiches and they were amazing.


The only rainy day
Day 29
I started walking with Pavlo but he fell behind after the first hour or so. I walked quite well. I didn't take many breaks. It was an emotional walk. I was scared to be so close to something so highly anticipated [Santiago]. I stopped and Skyped my dad. He told me he was very proud of me and we talked for 20 minutes or so. I arrived at the hostel at 3pm and my friends slowly arrived afterwards. Tomorrow should be exciting. I'm wondering how life will change when this is all over. It's hard to tell what will happen.

Day 30
Today we walked into Santiago barefoot and it was all very overwhelming. Seeing the cathedral left me feeling numb. After walking 800km across Spain there comes an awkward conversation in one's mind where they have to admit that they are proud of themselves. I got my Compostela from the pilgrim's office and then I went to the 12 o'clock mass. It was beautiful. Everything was beautiful. Everything is beautiful. I sat in front of the cathedral watching other pilgrims for a few hours. I went to mass again at 7pm to watch the incense swing. It was magical. I met Jess again! There's something dangerously mesmerising about an English girl with blue eyes. I went out dancing and drinking with my friends and I didn't get back to the apartment until 4am. We all climbed to the roof but a man started yelling at us so we got back down. Jess and I shared a bed. She's not easy to read. Today was one of the best days of my life.


The most highly anticipated day of my life
Day 31
Today I walked alone after waking up very late. It was 1pm when I finally got out of the city. I found a beautiful river and decided to take a break and go for a swim. It was mentally refreshing. I walked to the city of Negreira where I was invited to have dinner with a lovely group of strangers. One of them had walked 4,000km from Munich. Jess asked if she could read my diary. Now that she is reading it this entry is becoming an odd commentary. "Hey Jess. How are you? Today I decided to be a free spirit. In doing so I took the screen protector off my phone. I'm crazy. Thank you for being so nice over the last few days, and congrats on finishing up your Camino. I really hope I get to see you in England next week." 


River selfie

Day 32
I woke up with Jess and I packed up early, I left a note in her shoe to tell her which city I was going to and left. I walked by myself all day and Jess sent me a message saying that she wouldn't make it as far as me which was a bit disappointing. I moved on to another city and celebrated Katie's birthday with Chris, Sam, Hanno, Hayley, and Katie herself. It was great!


The last bed in town
Day 33
Today was the last walking day of the Camino, day 33. After walking 15km or so, the ocean appeared in front of me. It was one of the most beautiful things I've seen in my life. I walked along the ocean until I reached Fisterra. I went to the beach, and let the cold water consume me. When the sun was setting, we watched it fall off the edge of the earth, and then burnt our burdens in a fire. Red wine and Calippo had never tasted so good. Thank you Camino.


Burning my underwear
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If you would like to read about my Camino packing list, click here.

Thanks very much for reading. If you enjoyed this make sure to like my Facebook page, leave a comment below, and have a great day.

5 comments:

  1. Enjoyed your blog very much. Simple, but with just enough detail to make me feel like I was there. Thanks.

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  2. why do I ( anybody else) wants to know what you did? thousands of people do this pilgrimage every year you don't see then showing off I don't get it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I created this blog to share my experiences in hope that others would enjoy the things that I post. If it's not your thing I understand. Peace.

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  3. hey pete :3 just wanna mention that i really do enjoy your experience. It's interesting and I do love travelling. Make sure you keep on updating yeah?

    One of your Indonesian's subscriber :B

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  4. Thanks for your diary. I've walked a couple of Caminos and when you said

    "I got my Compostela from the pilgrim's office and then I went to the 12 o'clock mass. It was beautiful. Everything was beautiful. Everything is beautiful."

    That is so true, it really struck me. Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete