Category Archives: Spain

Life Happens While Making Plans

The Via Francigena pilgrimage had been in the works for almost two years – August 28th to November 19th – generous time to walk, explore and then return by means of a transatlantic cruise.In April of this year we learned our son and daughter-in-law were going to have a baby – the due date coincided with our walk.

Plane and cruise tickets had already been purchased and commitments to our pilgrim partners had been made. We decided to continue and make a plan when the time came.

Graciella was born October 8th.

Rome was five days out and the proud parents wanted some alone time. This allowed time to finish the Via, rest a couple days and fly home for some Gracie time.Oh, to hold a grandbaby. What a miracle.

It was only 36 hours after arriving in Charleston that Bill and I looked at each other said let’s fly back to Italy and get on that ship. The boat sails in 14 days…

The cruise took off from Civitavecchia, an hour outside Rome. We stayed near the airport and meandered our way to the port.First stop, Barcelona. We have great memories of our time here. I was particularly looking forward to seeing the progress of the Sagrada Familia. A Gaudí designed church. It’s a fantastical whimsical fortification – part adult hallucination part child’s mind. Within a year of the corner stone being set in 1882 Gaudí became the architect. He abandoned the original Neo-gothic theme for his own modernistic style. Rumor has it that the goal is to finish in 2026. This – Gaudí’s last project.On the opposite end of the spectrum both in time and in design we toured his first commission, Casa Vicens. The juxtaposition from the start of his career to the end is a lesson in the creative mind.The ship was scheduled to arrive in Funchal (an island just west of Portugal) in two days. However, a northerly storm with twenty foot swells put an end to that and we remain another day in Barcelona.Tomorrow we head west, out into the Atlantic, where we will sail seven days to St. Maarten.

Best of the Best Camino Attire – Shoes and Clothing

One of the hardest decisions to make about walking the Camino is what shoes to buy.

I have had the privilege and honor of first walking the Camino de Santiago Frances (all 800 kilometers of it) in September and then the Portugues route (616 kilometers – minus a bit for flooding and adding some for getting super lost) in May.

So.. with some authority I will tell you about the hands down primo shoes to walk in and then share what clothing worked best for me and what I would change in the future.

Altra Lone Peak 2.5Shoes: Altra Footwear Lone Peak 2.5  For men and women, without question these are BEST, most comfy and light weight shoes (the 3.0 is out now).  You do not need hiking boots!!! My Camino buddy and I both wore these and did not get blisters.  Why? The size of the toe box.  It’s large and roomy. Your feet will swell so it is important to buy 1/2 size larger than what you normally wear.   Click on Altra Running for technical information. Altra Lone PeakAfter reading about these and other top recommended shoes I ordered 24 pairs from Zappos and returned 23.  Zappos rocks – delivery and returns are free!

It wasn’t until after our first Camino Frances that I learned how many people agonize about what socks to buy – some spending a fortune. I bought thin, cheap Hanes socks – thinking less was more – less to rub.  For fun and warmth I wore Bad Ass knee socks from Sock it to Me – made of cotton, polyester and spandex – more proof that socks don’t matter.Bad AssImportant factors in choosing what clothes to pack: comfort, weight and quick drying.

Since we were traveling through Europe before this last Camino I needed clothing that would work for travel as well as the walk. My wardrobe dictated what kind of trip it would be – no fine dining or theaters for us!

So here are the clothing items that I had in my pack:

  • Target  tank top – great for sleeping, layering or when it’s hot
  • Prana short sleeved t-shirt
  • Lululemon short sleeved shirt
  • REI’s Smart Wool Mid-Weight Long Sleeve Crew
  • Icebreaker BodyfitZONE Zone Long Sleeve Half Zip
  • Lululemon Studio Pant – love the versatility of the drawcord hem
  • Nike Rival 6″ short – getting harder and harder to find the 6″ length
  • Patagonia Tech Fishing Skort
  • Eddie Bauer Micro Therm Down Jacket (ultralight)
  • Icebreaker Flexi Chute – neck thingy
  • Crocs backup shoe for the end of the day, shower, etc.
  • leggings, undies, bras, merino wool glove, hat and a cheap rain poncho

What would I change? Probably the Studio Pants by Lululemon.  They were perfectly comfortable for both Caminos but this time we experienced lots of rain.  UGH!  The bottom of the pants got in the way (too wide and quasi heavy when wet) and the fabric absorbed the water all the way up to my bum. Two of our Camino buddies had lightweight rain pants that they wore in lieu of regular pants on rainy days.  Depending on the time of the year I would consider those, ditch the Studio Pants and figure out an alternate super lightweight pant.Chilling with my CrocsNext, a better rain poncho since the cheap one allowed the rain to soak through.  Lastly, a better neck buff – one that fit tighter.  The Icebreaker model was too loose and didn’t do its job – it was more like bling but did not provide warmth.

That’s it – no more changes.  Super easy.

OR easier yet – you can pack like my husband.  He walked into REI – picked out t-shirts, shorts and a pair of pants off the clearance rack without trying them on.  Went to Goodwill and bought  a $5.00 sports coat (he said we all look like we stepped out of some sporting goods catalog and refused to fit the mold) and 2 pairs of Nike flip flops. YUP – he walked the Camino in flip flops!