Road to Santiago I – The first steps

It has been already a week, since I’ve started walking to Santiago de Compostela. I will try to capture the real pilgrim’s life, so you know, what to expect on your way to Santiago or on any other camino in the world.

Time flies, when you are only walking.

The first steps

I am doing 25-35km per day and even though it doesn’t sound that much, it’s challenging. I consider myself reasonable fit with some endurance, but from what I’ve seen, that means nothing here.

The first two and half days were easy as I was used to this amount from trips in mountains, but then the pain showed up. It doesn’t strike you like a baseball bat, but it’s just slowly building up. You can feel it with every step you take. The body is telling you to stop. You have to silence this voice immediatelly. It will go away. You have plenty of time to walk it off.

The pilgrim’s life

I might update this part once I’ll finish the journey, but so far it goes like this.

  1. I wake up usually before six. When you wake up after, it probably means you are sleeping too much.
  2. You do your morning routine and around 6:30 you put on your socks and shoes (always the last thing), grab your backpack and slowly start walking. By slowly I mean really slowly, because everything hurts from the previous day.
  3. You walk and you are amazed by the beautiful country side of northern Spain and the early sun.
  4. Once you get hungry, you either stop and have something from your backpack, or you go to the just opened bistro and ask for a tortilla. Made of eggs, potatoes, onion and sometimes some special ingredient. You usually meet some other pilgrims doing the same and you continue together.
  5. You usually keep walking till 2-4 pm, hoping you’ve walked enough and there is an open albergue in the village. Some of them are closed, some full, you are never sure.
  6. At the moment when you get to the albergue, you put your backpack to the line. And wait. Most of albergues open at 3, some at 4pm. And you can’t stay for more then one night – you gotta keep moving.
  7. If you are lucky and there is a bed for you. You put your sleeping bag on the bed and thus keep it for you. Otherwise you keep walking to the next albergue, sometimes even 10km far. Or you go to normal hotel and pay like a tourist 50e. Albergues for pilgrims are usually 5-15e per night.
  8. You take a shower and hand wash your clothes.
  9. Now the best part begins. You immediately lie in your bed and rest your legs. Seriously. First couple of days there is not much of other walking then from albergue-to-albergue. Any sort of stretching makes wonders for you, really recommended, it’s important. Any kind of yoga or other excercise will do it. Anything but walking.
  10. The lights in albergue go out at 10pm latest and everyone really make sure they are in their bed at that time.
  11. You put your ear plugs in. They are important, when 20 people sleep in one room.
  12. Repeat 30-40 times and you are in Santiago.
  13. The pilgrim’s life is not for everyone, but it’s a nice way of living.
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The good

  • The country is surprisingly beautiful. I was expecting dry out land, high temperatures, crowds of turists. The opposite is true. They have a lot of rain throught the year in northern Spain. Everything is green, lots of forest, lots of animals.
  • Not that much tourists. When I walk next to the beach and the Comino sometimes really goes next to the beach (or right through it), I am shocked how it’s empty. You have 500m of beach and it’s completely empty and it’s like 28 degrees, sunny …
  • The people. There are probably more pilgrims than I was expecting, however it’s not a bad thing. You kind of walk all together. Like a river. I mean, most of you walk the similar distance and there aren’t many albergues. So you usually end up in 2-3 different ones, so we often meet with the same people. It’s nice, like a big family.
  • El Camino. There is something magical to walk such a distance on your own. I don’t think I can explain the experience, feelings and emotions pilgrim goes through on a paper. You will have to go on your own or wait for my stories face to face:)

The little bit less good

  • First, the blisters. They are one of the first common things you can talk to any pilgrim and you will both know. None of us can avoid them fully. If you don’t know how to start a conversation with someone, and you would like to, just ask them about their feet. Pilgrims just love it.
  • It really is far away. This could probably also be in a Good part, because I like this thing. I like the feeling that even though I suffer sometime, with every step I make I am getting closer to the goal. And I am glad it takes me some time to get there.
  • The heat. Some days it’s over 30 degrees and the sun is fairly strong in here. Your backack gets really heavy and you still have to get those km. The same goes with the rain.
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Next steps

I am really happy here. There are plenty of special people and a lot of inspiration along the way. Although, I don’t think the Camino is for everyone. Once you hear it’s call, it’s hard to resist. I am still on the beginning of the journey with probably 3 more weeks ahead. That is like one gazillion steps.

Stay tuned and follow me if you can 🙂

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