Monday, 25 November 2019

Day 2 On The Camino: Portomarin To Palas De Rei

Into the misty mountains portomarin camino frances

A Busy Morning


After all the walking, muscle pain and no chocolate, I thought I'd wake up on Day 2 and finally have the shape of a top model. It isn't the case, but the muscle ache is still there.

I check out at 8am and get a lift into town by the guesthouse's owner Mario. He speaks no English, but he is a friendly local and we manage a basic conversation. Mario kindly drops me off at Portomarin's Church of San Juan so I'm spared of walking 1km uphill. Unfortunately, the church is closed so no sello for me this morning. I also get a novella text from Jorge, my host for tonight, asking me lots of questions. When will you arrive? Do you need dinner? What do you eat? Do you need pick up? - Ahhhhh, stop stressing me out. I've not even started the day so I have no idea how fast I'll make progress today. I reply with a short text that I'm just about to leave Portomarin and aim to be at the guesthouse before it gets dark (8pm). That should do, right!?!

Portomarin church of san juan camino frances

It is approaching 8:20am. Sun's not up yet, but everyone else is. The village is super busy. Like London rush hour busy. Everyone is out and about. Pilgrims join from every corner of the small village to tackle today's route to Palas de Rei. Some check out of their hotel, at the other end of the road are pilgrims taking pictures with the Portomarin sign. A Chinese couple shoulder their backpacks, others quickly drop into the tiny supermarket by the church to buy last-minute snacks for the day. The chatter, laughter, and clicking of Nordic Walking sticks create a buzz in the air which is inspiring and infectious. We can do those 30kms, off to Palas de Rei we go!

portomarin with stone pillar 90km to santiago camino frances

Together with the rest of the pilgrim pack, I descend Portomarin. The Camino leads straight out of the village on the other side and two more bridges from the old days of Portomarin come insight. I stop briefly for the view and read up on Portomarin's history from an information plate. The village was completely relocated in 1960 when the river got dammed. Brick by brick, the church, and other historic buildings were moved up the hill and reconstructed. At low tide, the river reveals the old ancient remains of the original bridge, as well as some buildings. The pictures look eerie and the morning fog creates the perfect image for a mysterious setting. 

Into The Misty Mountains


The Camino leads straight into the wild, uphill of course "into the misty mountains", as I'd like to call it. The thick fog hangs over the hill like a blanket and the cold from the wetness creeps in. The first two kilometers are really tough. I take my time to tackle that hill - one step at a time. What I don't know yet: most of today will be uphill with the strongest elevation gain of the whole hike to Santiago. It will be an interesting day for sure.

early morning in portomarin with river minho

After 45 minutes, I reach the top. Here, the Camino follows alongside the main road past some old abandoned factories of Portomarin. I feel like I can hear voices from the inside of the abandoned buildings, but it could also be the echo of the pilgrim group ahead of me - chatty Italians who are awake and enthusiastically walk ahead. The rest of the pack is already miles ahead, but come 11am after a hike through a mysterious dense forest, I take a break at Hosteria de Gonzar and suddenly everyone else is here too craving breakfast. We all sort of caught up with each other and start from the same place again. I'm having orange juice and hot chocolate to refuel as I'm not hungry. A quick bathroom stop and I'm back on the road.

The day goes on and most of the distance is either steep uphill or downhill with occasional walks alongside the main road. At least walking on smooth tarmac helps to cover longer distances, but there's barely a cafe or opportunity to stop for a break. The landscape changes to open planned vast areas, then the path leads through leafy autumnal villages. I do travel less alone today. There are pilgrims passing regularly and I meet a familiar face from yesterday - Gary, the American. He meets me a few times after lunchtime. His companion today is a friendly young lad and they make it their mission to tease me every time they get ahead of me.

highest elevation gain portomarin to palas de rei camino frances

In the next village, I pick up a Romanian lady who is afraid of dogs so we travel together for a bit. It's only a short while before I'm alone again. Two British ladies in their early 60s cross paths with me occasionally. As the day moves on, the sun burns from the sky and I feel I've taken more breaks and have barely moved forward. At one point I see a sign for a small church off the Camino which apparently its stamp is needed for the Compostela certificate. I'm thirsty and struggling with my toes which are squashed again. I wait a bit to see if other pilgrims take the detour to the church but no one cares and they all walk straight ahead. I decide against the detour too, as it would mean an additional 4km and I have to use my energies sparingly today. So I continue and follow the Camino.

Frustration Has Struck


After two kilometres I'm desperate for a break but there's no opportunity to sit down somewhere. Even cafes have been quite sparingly on today's route. I keep going but reach my breaking point soon and eventually sit down by the road in the shadow. It is only now that I realise I have overheated. The two Brits from earlier approach me and check if I'm ok. I explain I'm overheated and will be fine in a sec. They are concerned but my introverted self acts aloof enough so they keep moving on.

There are more hills to tackle but I keep pushing forward. I really want to make some good progress in the next few hours. After 2h of walking downhill at 30% slope, my toes ache like hell from sliding in my shoes. I'm forced to sit down and find a spot at the end of the hill in the shade. This is the first time I actually take off the boots, massage my feet and check on my toes. No blisters but my toes are swollen and very red. Not great. The frustration nearly makes me cry. Instead, I listen to some music and think about London. London and my friends. I do wonder what they are up to at this very moment. I guess they are at work at their desks and have no idea I'm in the middle of nowhere about to cry over my frustration. The thing is I still have energies and enjoy my time on the Camino. The landscapes are amazing, the dynamic amongst Pilgrims is very friendly and I'm excited to get to see all these places and learn about their history. Argh, if only the pain in my stupid toes wasn't so unpleasant! I have to make it to Palas de Rei, whatever it takes!

Something Magical Happens


There haven't been many cafes today on the Camino but I find one outside of Palas de Rei. I can refill my water bottle and trot along the Camino dragging my feet along as my right foot has gone stiff and won't roll properly in the shoe anymore. I sit down again and try a reality check paired with good motivational self-talk. I simply have to accept that I will make it to my checkpoint at some point but in extreme slow-mo and potentially way past my targeted arrival time.

jon-tyson-camino frances stone pillar

Two pilgrims approach marching happily ahead as if they've done nothing else than hiking in their life. It's the two Brits from earlier! But this time I've got no choice. Both of them recognise me immediately and come over to join me. They are really concerned about me and want to help, so we sit in the late Indian summer light and they share cakes and sweets with me. The Romanian girl also joins us and we motivate each other that we can do the final kilometres to Palas de Rei. Within minutes,  I've gone from being alone to being part of a group and our little fellowship marches straight ahead into Palas de Rei.

And then, something happens that has never happened in my life before: I get adopted by the two Brits. They CHOSE me!

The two ladies, Denise and Carole, have been lifelong friends and hike the Camino mostly in memoriam of Carole's deceased brother. Carole even shares one of her Nordic walking sticks and it is such a blessing. The heavy backpack no longer weights down on my lower back and I can lift my whole body off in one fluent movement. So we travel together for the final kilometres and also meet a Finish guy who has been on the hike since France with his massive poodle puppy Bilbo. We make it in time before the closing of the Church in Palas de Rei to get our stamp. RESULTS!

Then I join Carole and Denise for a drink at a small bar next to their accommodation. We have a lovely chat revising the day and analysing what still lies ahead. They suggest a luggage transfer so I can get rid of my backpack for the rest of the trip. Unfortunately, their transfer company won't serve my next guesthouse but they suggest to speak to my host later tonight. My accommodation is actually another 8km away and already part of tomorrow's stage. After some concerned protest from Carole and Denise - especially with my feet and the evening approaching - I decide to take a taxi. We part for today but agree to meet up on Monday and have dinner together in Santiago.

Porto de Bois Apartamentos TurĂ­sticos Camino Frances

Straight Into The Next Adventure


I'm heading straight into the next adventure as the taxi drops me off in the middle of nowhere. There's only a handsome Galician stone villa and nothing much around so I approach the building and see that it is completely closed down. I text Jorge, the guesthouse owner, and he replies he'll be there soon. I now understand why he messaged me so early in the morning and I feel slightly embarrassed because I thought the place would be like a hotel with a serviced reception. The villa is incredible though with a small but cute bar and a generous terrace with the most amazing views over the grounds.

Owner Jorge turns up 20 minutes later and shows me my apartment. It is a spacious flat with a fully functioning kitchen, polished stone floors, a huge walk-in shower in the bathroom and cosy bedroom. The penny drops slowly that I'm Jorge's only guest for tonight and I will have the whole villa to myself. It is cool but a tiny bit creepy at the same time.

Jorge is super nice. Turns out he and Mario are best pals. We have a great conversation about the villa and I learn that it has been his family's house. He rebuilt it as a guesthouse and has only been in the Camino business for 4 years. So this place is still a top-secret tip. He organises a local luggage transfer company for me and gives me a checklist for breakfast. I tick all the boxes from fresh croissants to muffins, Galician cakes, fruit, orange juice and a selection of jams. Can't wait to have a proper breakfast, which I haven't had in four days.

Porto de Bois galician countryside camino frances
Terrace Apartamentos TurĂ­sticos Porto de Bois Camino Frances

After our chat, Jorge drives back home and I head back to the apartment which is spotless and has everything I need. If I had known, I could have filled the fridge with food and drinks and thrown a little party. Maybe something to consider for next time. I take a long hot shower and then snuggle up in the comfy bed. The stone walls in the darkness play tricks on me and I can't fall asleep. I'm the only guest staying in the house. The pressing silence is ocassionally interrupted by an owl's screech outside...somewhere deep in the dark forest. Spooky! Really don't fancy to be killed by a supernatural Japanese revenge spirit in my sleep, so I lock the doors and leave the lights on in the main room.

It is review time in my head: tomorrow is halftime on the Camino. I'm also pleased I'm staying again with a friendly local and learn about their life with the Camino. The Camino guide I picked up from the Pilgrims Office reads that tomorrow's 30km stage to Arzua will lead through some pretty medieval villages, churches and magical leafy forests. Rain is forecasted so it promises to be an interesting day.

Thanks so much for reading.
Till next time,
Carolin
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Thursday, 7 November 2019

Day 1 On The Camino: Sarria To Portomarin

sarria welcome sign on the camino

Travel To Sarria


My first day on the Camino starts early: after a quick shower and little faffing about, I'm ready to leave my hotel in Santiago at around 7am in the morning. I'm glad I've ordered a taxi for the ride to the bus station as it is pitch black outside and it would have been quite a walk - and I'll be doing lots of walking later.

I've pre-booked my bus ticket with Eurolines for the 8am service from Santiago to Lugo. There's a good chance I will miss the connection bus to Sarria which will leave when I will arrive in Lugo. In that case, I'm planning to spend the 3h gap for the next service for some exploring in Lugo, but we'll see.

The bus station has a huge underground terminal with several platforms. I do worry that I'm lost but eventually one of the bus drivers tells me to wait at platform 20, right at the end of the terminal. I check the ticket again and again but slowly, other pilgrims join me so I'm feeling less lost. I guess they are pilgrims as they wear big backpacks and are dressed in professional hiking gear. Surely, they will travel to Sarria today too and begin their pilgrimage.

By 7:50am, the bus arrives and we're on the way to Lugo. It is super modern and comfy with aircon, blacked-out windows, free WiFi and a screen for watching movies. Whilst I put Pitch Perfect 3 on I do doze off a few times. I notice the lush landscape that the bus is passing. Cities that lie in the morning fog are starting to wake up. If you wouldn't know you're in Spain, you wouldn't expect it, as none of the scenery outside looks typical Spanish. The sunlight only breaks through shortly then disappears behind a thick carpet of clouds. It gets cold, dark and rainy and I'm putting on my rain jacket to keep warm. The prospect of hanging around for 3h in Lugo doesn't look too appealing to me.

Into The Wild


Luck is on my side though, as my bus pulls in 2 minutes ahead of schedule and I catch the connection to Sarria. It's a very quick in-and-out situation but 30 minutes later I arrive in Sarria. Now I need to find my way to the Camino so from the bus station I head North to the Monastery of Magdalena. 

I walk uphill for a while until I reach a small alley which is seamed with Albergues - the typical pilgrim accommodation. I can feel I'm heading in the right way and tadah! there's the first Camino sign showing the way forward. I'm excited and buzzing. The Monastery comes into sight and for the first time, I draw my Pilgrimage Passport and get my first sello (stamp). My adventure on the Camino has officially begun!

sarria welcome sign on the camino
sarria welcome sign on the camino
sarria welcome sign on the camino
sarria welcome sign on the camino

The weather has cleared up now and I'm about to head into the wild and unknown. For the next five days, I'll be following the Camino sign - a yellow scallop on a blue background for 120km to Santiago De Compostela. I'm excited and disappear into the forest. It is peaceful and I'm listening to the sound of nature. The forest stretches uphill and I can't stop thinking I'm on a quest...like in the Fellowship of the Ring. The trees are old and mysterious. There are lush greenery and small streams and it slowly starts to heat up. The hill is pretty steep so I'm taking my first break. Two Australian ladies from Sydney who have been on the Camino for 7 weeks join me and we have a little chat before they start walking again. They are trained so within 10 minutes they are miles ahead of me.

Leaving sarria into the wild
mysterious tree on the camino
Forest on the camino in the area of sarria

Connecting With Locals


It is shortly after midday and suddenly very hot. My backpack starts to get heavy and I've finished all of my water - but I can do this. Although I pass through many villages, they are dead and I haven't seen a single soul for hours. Eventually, I'm forced to take another break and I end up at A Casa De Carmen. Sweaty and hot, I enter the beautiful yellow Albergue with its neat courtyard and tonnes of plants everywhere. The door is open. I knock and go inside on the lookout for some civilisation. It looks welcoming and warm inside so I end up in the kitchen where there's a lovely lady, probably in her mid-50's prepping lunch over one of these really old school cooking ranges. Beef stew and boiled potatoes as far as I can tell. 

She sees me half dead and the next thing I know I'm showered in a waterfall of Spanish. With hands and feet as well as Google Translate I try to communicate with her, but she has gone into full Mum Mode. She has me sat down, my water bottle already refilled to the brim and a glass of Aloe Vera Squash in my hands. The sugar in the drink feels so good. We're joined by one of the housekeepers who speaks broken English but she helps with the communication. My rescuer is Carmen herself and she proudly shows me her guestbook which is filled with tonnes of pictures of thankful pilgrims and heartwarming Thank You notes. I ask her how long she's been running the Albergue and Carmen's eyes light up. She points at a couple of framed pictures of herself visiting some of her former guests then touches her heart and fondly talks about that having the Albergue, meeting lots of different and interesting people has been the best thing in her life. I'm touched on how passionately she talks about her business and love, how fulfilled she is by being part of the Camino.

a casa de carmen on the camino de frances

I'm having a lovely time and she really wants me to stay. She would even share some lunch with me but I have to politely decline. I tell her I've got accommodation booked in Portomarin, so I have to be back on the road soon. Carmen and her housekeeper look at each other and then make big eyes when I mention Portomarin. It is still ages away! Carmen refills my sweet Aloe Vera drink, then shows me the bathroom and gives me a big hug when I'm about to leave. There's even more Spanish, kisses and more Spanish. I can't help it so I give her a 5 EUR note as a Thank You and promise to email her once I'm back home. Refreshed and happy I'm back on the road.

The Afternoon On The Camino


The rest of the day is rather unspectacular. The rural landscape reminds me a lot of The Shire in the Lord of The Rings. Lots of wheat fields, veg patches, scarecrows, small villages and in between the stoney winding path of the Camino. It is rarely flat, mostly uphill and if it is flat the path is seamed with big stones. It is incredibly hot, pestering flies are all over me and the smell of cow poo is intrusive. I can tell it is early fall as acorns and spikey chestnuts fall on my head throughout the day. The rare medieval village churches on my way are unfortunately closed so there's no chance for me to collect a sello. I'm alone for most of the day and only get passed by cyclists now and again. For most parts of the Camino, there's a fence of stone plates running along the path, so there's plenty of opportunities to take breaks and rest. Although I'm in the middle of the Spanish countryside, I have a great reception to check my progress. It is frustrating. I've only made 4km in the past hour! I do worry that at this rate I may make it to Portomarin after dark and it is only Day 1.

steep and stoney path on the camino de frances
Camino pillar on the camino de frances

At 5pm I arrive at a small converted barn which sells ice cream, souvenirs and other snacks. It is very popular with other pilgrims and I get to meet Gary and his gang. Gary is a rustic American who travels with a German and another American. They've been on Day 30+ so at the next village, they will find an Albergue and call it a day. We have a nice casual chat and they want to know my motivation for the Camino. I out myself having only just started today and say that I left London after 6 years of working. I'm seeking "more" in life than the 9 to 5 grind. We have an interesting and deep conversation whilst I nibble on my ice cream. Gary's American friend tells me he used to have a flat in London but has sold it a few years ago. Now he's regretting this decision as the flat would be worth millions today. Their German friend is probably a bit younger than me. She is amazed that I had time to put make up on for the hike and is also highly interested in my backpack. She can't believe how much stuff I've managed to pack in there so I share some of my organisation secrets with her. In hindsight, I shouldn't have done that cause Gary would mock me for the next couple of days about my outfits.

The Final Kilometres To Portomarin


Anyway, it's time to keep going. I've got another 2h or so ahead of me and I'd like to arrive before dark. The few scattered settlements I walk through are deserted and there's no living soul for the rest of my hike. It is very quiet on the Camino and I must look odd from afar, trekking alone on the empty road. I have heavily underestimated the distance so for tomorrow the plan is to start hiking as soon as the sun is up. 

The evening is here and I can see Portomarin in the distance. I will just have to go downhill and then I'm there. Well, the Camino has it's own will and the road is long and winding. It is so steep that I slide in my shoes and keep hurting my toes. Not sure what is worse, up or downhill. So it goes on for 30 minutes. I do make it to Portomarin. Shortly after 7pm, I cross the iconic bridge over the river Minho. The village thrones on a little hill whilst the river is misty and dark running slowly under my feet. The bridge is, in fact, a bit scary. It is not very wide, so the space for walking is tight. I have to keep my eyes fixed to not trip over my feet, which are hurting a lot. Only a few more metres and then I'm at the guesthouse.  I'm not fed up (yet) but I would like to be there now and end the day.

Crossing the river minho to get to Portomarin
Portomarin in Galicia Spain

On the other side of the bridge at the entrance of the village is a medieval and very steep set of stairs and I secretly hope that this is not the way to go to the guesthouse. I quickly check on Google Maps for its location and see that it is a further 1km away from the village. Ok, I can do this. So I'm moving past the village to a small peninsula by the river. It is the most remote guesthouse I've ever been to. In the surrounding grounds, some ponies roam freely around and come over to say hello. Then I pass through an autumnal apple and pear orchard and see the traditional Galician stone house. I'm finally at tonight's checkpoint!

apple orchard in portomarin
casa santa marina in portomarin

The place is huge with a main house, a lovely guestroom for dinner, terrace and a couple of bungalows scattered around the huge orchard. The lady at "reception" gives me a room in the house instead of the bungalows, so I feel less cut off from the world and a bit more included if that makes sense. The room is basic but nice and cosy. I even have a little terrace so I can watch the eerie fog ascending over the river and take off my hiking boots. I'm grateful I brought my flip flops along because my toes are slightly battered and can now enjoy being freed of the tight hiking boots. It is bedtime because the darkness crept in way too fast and I only managed some pages of my Strelecky book to wind down from the day.           

I keep thinking back to this morning in Lugo. If I had missed the connection and killed 3h, I would still be out on the Camino. Instead, I'm tugged up in bed and can have a 10h rest now.

Two things are absolutely clear for tomorrow: it will start early and it will be tough.

Thanks so much for reading,
Till next time,

Carolin
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Wednesday, 6 November 2019

The World Is Calling Me Again

jason-blackeye-out into the world

One afternoon in late August it just happened: I decided to go on an adventure.

My mission: fly out to Spain, become a Pilgrim and complete the final 100km of the Camino de Compostela to acquire the Compostela certificate.

A typical Carolin Let's Do This impulse, but that was the plan. To be honest, I secretly wanted to do this for a while... but you know... it was one of those flighty ideas that had been in and out of my mind on some days more present than others. Around Easter though, I ventured out for a mini-pilgrimage to Canterbury and the trip had given me the final push to actually do the pilgrimage to Spain. The question was: when to do it?

Fortunately, the opportunity for the execution of my plan came around a few months later, when I decided to leave London and spend some of my new found freedom on traveling.  

My Motivation


In my culture, the pilgrimage way to Santiago De Compostela in Spain is very popular. I can't say why that is, it just happens that most Germans - even the nonreligious ones - have heard of it or done it. It has a noble reputation and is seen as one of those things that "you should have done in your life".

The Camino De Compostela is, in fact, a wide-ranging network of hiking trails in Spain, France, and Portugal. The longest at 800km and most famous one is, Camino de Frances, followed by Camino de Portugues which can either be started in Lisbon or Porto. Shorter ones include Camino de Norte in Spain and Camino de Ingles which are less known and traveled. If you complete the final 100km of the Camino you’re entitled to receive the Compostela, a certificate issued by the Catholic church to acknowledge your pilgrimage. It is a beautiful certificate with medieval embellishments issued in Latin that also dismisses you of all your sins. 

I’m not religious at all nor do I believe in God, however, I am spiritual. I read that spirituality is one of the five pillars that make up your personality. Next to love, work, money and health, which all need to be in tune for a happy life. All of my five pillars have been shaken up in the past years and are imbalanced. Now I'm working on them to improve myself and rebuilt my life. I can't also shake off the feeling that there's something else out there and refuse to accept that the 9 to 5 grind is IT. I'm a firm believer that everyone in life has a POE (purpose of existence) or your life goal sort to say and by venturing out and getting to know oneself you become a more well-rounded you which gets you closer to your POE, leading you to a meaningful and satisfying life.

I was hoping the Camino would give me some clarity and guidance, which I'm seeking. The solitude of the journey would help to reconnect me with my inner self (hope that makes sense). Plus the Camino runs parallel to the Milky Way, so the Universe, which brings me back to the spirituality aspect. It was just an obvious sign that I was meant to do it and for the first time in a while, my intuition felt that "this experience would actually do me some good".

casey-horner-the milky way and palm trees at night

Planning & Organising


In preparation, I read a couple of different sources to be well informed, but this Camino blog post was by far the best orientation where to start the Camino and how to get there. It was clear to me that I would travel on the Camino Frances route and the starting point of the final 100km is in Sarria. Therefore, I had to travel to Santiago first, which has a small airport, and then take two busses to get to Sarria. The first one from Santiago to Lugo can be booked in advance through Eurolines. The second one from Lugo to Sarria is a local one and can't be booked prior.

I would also need a Pilgrims Passport (Credential Peregrino) to collect stamps (sello) along the way to prove I had actually walked the Camino. Some churches and monasteries issue them but I wanted to be on the safe side and planned to collect mine from the official Pilgrim's Office in Santiago.  

The next planning steps were to determine the daily stages, how many kilometers I wanted to cover and sort out accommodation. Pilgrims usually stay in huge dorms in Albergues and Monasteries, but there are also small guest houses and private pensions on the way. Several tour operators offer tours and prebook everything for you. However, a quick Expedia research revealed that the costs for an individually booked trip would be lower. I even managed to squeeze in a quick stopover in Madrid on my way home into my budget. With a spreadsheet documenting every detail of the next 9 days, I mapped out my time as followed:

My Itinerary


Day 1: Fly Out and Arrival in Santiago De Compostela
Day 2: Day 1 on the Camino. Sarria to Portomarin
Day 3: Day 2 on the Camino. Portomarin to Palas de Rei
Day 4: Day 3 on the Camino. Palas de Rei to Arzua
Day 5: Day 4 on the Camino. Arzua to Amenal
Day 6: Day 5 on the Camino. Amenal to Santiago De Compostela
Day 7: Homebound. Fly Out to Madrid
Day 8: A Perfect Day in Madrid (24h city break)
Day 9: Homebound. Fly Out Home
trip organisation spreadsheet for hiking camino de compostela
lucija-ros-herschel backpack on a hike

I’m not a hiker, nor do I work out regularly. I do some running and ice skating but I am not physically trained for proper hikes. Nearly every source I consulted stated the Camino would be flat terrain, so to me, this sounded like a walk - an ordinary walk in the Spanish countryside. The fact I could survive a 10km race in about 80 minutes arrogantly encouraged me to think I could easily make a daily win of 30km. Well, that was just one of my many misconceptions about the Camino.

The entire trip was booked three weeks in advance at the end of August and I used the in-between time to "train" for the hike. I bought new hiking boots that needed to be broken in so I walked 4km daily and ran to build up stamina. My printed copy of my spreadsheet contained all information from flights and booking numbers, to daily stages and targets as well as milage and addresses of accommodation. 

In terms of packing, I brought my Herschel backpack along, which in hindsight was rather small but I wanted to pack efficiently and only bring along the absolute necessity. I packed my comfy running leggings with five tops to change on the hike, reusable water bottle, rain trousers and jacket, torch, first aid kit, some food, two outfits for traveling and one for my day sightseeing in Madrid. Plus undies, socks, charger(s), passport, money and phone but those were a given. I even had room for my straighteners and a very light book - The Why Cafe by John Strelecky - which I can highly recommend. 

With everything booked, packed, trained and documented I was ready to travel to Santiago De Compostela.  

Thank you so much for reading,
Till next time,
Carolin
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