Planning a Camino? Where do I start?
As you may have read in earlier posts, I am not used to having to do all this planning for myself so I had no idea really where to begin. So, as the song says, Let’s start at the very beginning….
My rules of planning (for a person who hates to plan!)
I watched the film, The Way, which was my initial inspiration but it also meant that I started to become familiar with the names and the places.
There are lots of good websites, offering packages, http://www.caminoadventures.com, for example. Whether you choose to book or not, they are a good start and have a wealth of interesting/useful information. There are lots of blogs on here too that offer the inexperienced pilgrim some insight: http://2moremiles.com/ is one I was reading this morning, https://tosantiagoandbeyond.wordpress.com is another.
The guidebook I have been using, given to me by a wonderful friend last year (yes, this trip has been on the boil for sometime now!) The maps are quite small but the information in it is useful and it has a stage by stage walking guide to the Camino.
Another really good resource is the Cofraternity of St James which is a UK based charity and is a Step by Step guide to the Camino De Santiago – http://www.csj.org.uk/ . If you are in the UK, you can also pick up your pilgrim’s passport from here, if you want it prior to your trip.
There is a link on here for all the hostels on the route, which I found a useful starting point.
With so many possibilities, this was one of the hardest tasks. But reading the book and the blogs and the tour companies website, we eventually decided on our route. One of the most popular, the St James Way, also known I believe as Camino Frances (please correct me if I am wrong!) and the one that had drawn me to finding out about the Camino in the first place, was the one we have decided to tackle, starting from St Jean Pied de Port in France.
There was just one tiny little irritation that was standing in our way from a final decision and that was a chronic Achilles problem that has been bugging me all year. It has been so bad that I was reduced to walking for less than 30 minutes at times during this year! And seen me hobbling back home with gritted teeth, claiming it was in fact a ‘happy face’!
Note to self: contact the physiotherapist!
Although I have gradually been increasing the amount of walking this year and now walk with heel raises, which enables me to do many more miles, I do still feel a bit limited and so, with this in mind, we decided to combine walking and cycling as being on a bike does not affect my Achilles at all (generally!).
The next problem was time: as many people these days, we are always busy and always time poor. So splitting the route into two trips seemed like the best solution.
Our decision then led us to the start and end point:
Start at St Jean Pied de Port, France
End (this time) in Leon, Spain.
It is a distance of about 400 km and seems manageable.
By this time, I had read so much, found out so much but needed a real plan after this. And writing the itinerary was the next step in my journey. (And for a non-planner, this was the hardest part of all!)
Tomorrow I will share the next steps in my planning journey with you all.
In the meantime, Buen Camino!