Camino de Santiago – The Beginning

I’ve been procrastinating writing this post. I think it’s because once the blog posts are up, it means our adventure is officially over.  Probably the same reason my backpack hasn’t been put away, but sits at the end of our bed whispering to me “pick me up! Where are we going today?”

I decided to quit overthinking exactly how I’m going to blog so many photos, and just start!

Firstly -some answers to some commonly asked questions about the Camino.

1) What is the camino? –

Long answer: google it. Short answer: an old pilgrimage that starts in France, makes it’s way across the top of Spain and ends in Santiago. The destination being the cathedral in Santiago where the remains of the Apostle St James are kept. There are actually many routes that go to Santiago, we took the most popular The 780km Camino Frances. There is a gorgeous one I would love to do through Portugal…. but now this is a long answer 🙂

2) Why?
Why not? 🙂 Many people do it for religious reasons. When you finish the pilgrimage all your sins are forgiven! Some do it because they like walking. A lot of Spaniards do it due to the large unemployment in Spain – having the certificate (which you receive after doing at least the last 100km) and the Camino on your resume puts you ahead of the competition.

We did it just because. We had heard about it and thought “one day”, then the husband had long service leave so it turned from “one day” to “now”.

3) Where did you stay?
We stayed in hostels which were run by the local government, by the church, or owned privately. This made our packs lighter as we only had to take sleeping bags and not tents etc.

4) How much did you carry?
I think we had about 9-11kg each, depending on how much water we were carrying.

That’s enough Q&A. If you have any you’d like answered, leave me a comment below! 🙂

So these photos are all from days one and two. A few from my iphone have snuck in there, and there really weren’t enough photos from these days to do them justice. This was for 3 reasons – 1) it was the first days, so there was a lot of huffing, puffing and generally trying not to die, 2) we got stuck in a blizzard, so energy was spent on not falling off the top of the mountain (again, trying not to die), 3) it was so amazingly beautiful that sometimes I just had soak it in with both eyes open (not squinting through a viewfinder).

We started in the most beautiful little town – Saint Jean Pied de Port. I expected Snow White to come skipping across the bridge! I was so excited that the French I haven’t spoken in 13 years ( I lived in France for a little while) came back to me!
A visit to the pilgrims office saw us set up with our pilgrims passports which we had stamped every night at each of the hostels we stayed in (it also identified us as pilgrims and gave us entry into these hostels/ albergues), and collected our scallop shells which hung from our packs. We then filled ourselves up with enough calories for the entire Camino at a phenomenal michelan starred dinner. Our waiter was impressed that we had come so far, and that I could speak French, (plus the restaurant was pretty empty… so maybe they were bored) so we got lots of little extras with our dinner. I am salivating as I think about it! mmmm  We stayed the night in SJPP and officially started the next day.
Our first night was spent at the Orisson Hostel which is only a little way up the mountain. Many people tackle the whole mountain in one day (27km), but due to all kinds of fun at the post office we got a late start and decided that Orisson would be it for the day. A fabulous place, where we met some of our favourite people on the whole Camino, friends that we walked with on and off all the way to Santiago!
The second night was at the municipal hostel in Roncesvalles, which was a massive hostel (a lot of people skip the mountain and start there) which had been renovated fabulously (and gave us false expectations that all municipal hostels would be that nice!!).

We met two different people who were doing the camino with their dogs that day! One lady stayed overnight in the tiny hut (that you will see below) with her little jack russell cross, and another lady was travelling with her two children (one only 6 months!!!!!!!!) and her dog. Crazy! There’s no way our pampered pooches could have handled the camino – I’m pretty sure the longest our dogs have ever walked in one day is about 8km.
Enough talk – here are the photos!

View Camino De Cuddles in a larger map

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