Tag Archives: Camino de Santiago

Follow us as we walk the Via Francigena

map credit ©️OutdoorTravel http://www.outdoortravel.com.au https://bit.ly/2zbnHyh Thanks for the map!

That’s right.  Approx. 1000 kilometers.

This time it’s the Via Francigena (fran chee gena).

From ancient and medieval times it connected Canterbury to Rome. Today most pilgrims start in the Swiss Alps. Luckily, unlike our predecessors, none of us have to return home by foot.

Different from the famous Camino de Santiago where over 200,000 pilgrims annually walk the 500 miles from St. Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain the Via has only a combined 2,500 walkers, bikers and horse riders.

Bill and I walked the Camino de Santiago Frances in 2013 and in 2016 walked the Camino de Santiago Portuguese with Vino Verde Man, Chapmeister and Rockenstein . It was so utterly perfect that the five of us, on September 3, 2018, will step out the door of our hostel at the Great St. Bernard Pass in Switzerland and make our way to Rome.

The first two days have us descending 6,000′ in elevation. Hello knees…In the meantime, we walk to build up our strength. Unfortunately, the last couple of days have us walking at the local community center as our hometown has the most hazardous air in the USA caused by the horrific fires in California.

Curious about what’s in my pack??

If you didn’t read my ultimate packing guide from the last pilgrimage hop on over and check it out.

I made some adjustments – more than expected in the consummate search for perfection.

Here’s the list (new means different from last time):

  • New pack – the Osprey 24 liter Sirrus
  • The same Nike shorts which unfortunately have been discontinued.
  • New (update – North Face changed the material and the new ones are too thick)  North Face Everyday Pant
  • New North Face on the Go Skirt (forgoing the skort)
  • Target tank top
  • New Athleta Speedlight Tee
  • Same Lulu Lemon Swiftly Tech Short Sleeve
  • Smartwool – one each – Mid-Weight and Light-Weight long sleeve shirts
  • A crazy and stupid indulgence – hippie palazzo pants from Walmart – who said ya can’t be groovy on a pilgrimage?
  • New My Trail Co rain gear – jacket and pants. Jealous of Rockenstein and Vino Verde  when they stepped out in the torrential rain all duded out with their My Trails rain attire. They stayed dry when I soaked to the bone in my cheap $1.99 rain poncho.
  • New REI 650 Down Jacket
  • OMG – I get to wear new but the same  Altra Footwear Lone Peak 2.5 shoes!! YAY!! Shoes are the most important part of this whole list.  Altra is now on version 3.5 with 4.0 coming out any day now. They changed their design and frankly the changes do not work for me. Geared up to wear the Altra Timp Trail – actually hiking in them with a friend when I realized she was wearing my favorite 2.5’s. Where did you get those???? Rockenstein! The zero drop wasn’t her thing so she passed them on. Well, that generous friend who only wore them twice gifted them to me. Doing a happy dance every time I put them on. Thank you Boo!
  • Crocs backup shoe for the end of the day, showering, etc.
  • Tights, undies, bras, merino wool gloves, a neck buff, homemade pillowcase with velcro to stuff my down jacket in to make a pillow.
  • Travel size toiletries.
  • Sea to Summit Traveller silk sleeping sack to keep the cooties away.
  • PackTowl ultralite beach towel

All weighing in at 11 pounds. Of course, I’ll be wearing some of those clothes so my pack will be lighter.

You men might be wondering what’s in Bill’s pack.  Basic black and flip flops!

We’re super excited. Jump on board and walk with us. Tell your friends to sign up for our blog – http://www.billandpaige.com.  Instagram Story @paigeshawdotcom and Facebook @billandpaige.

See you there!

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!

 

Camino de Santiago Portugues Final Day 20

Life is simple on the Camino – walk, eat, sleep, walk, eat, sleep, walk… Oh and follow the yellow arrows – sometimes it’s like “Where’s Waldo” but that’s part of the fun.Yesterday, June 4th we walked 26,850 steps and 11.38 miles into Santiago de Compostela. The crazy Peregrino video. Click here.

We had the best time and couldn’t have asked for better Camino buddies. Some picked up new trail names: Rocknstein and Chapmeister. Darrell had a love affair with Vino Verde. Bill managed to wear his flip flops everyday and was discovered to be a contrarian and I talked too much and was referred to as being a pain in the ass. 

Bill did the math and realized that we spent approximately 400 awake hours together which equals about 5 to 10 years of socializing. Sort of like speed dating…Our bodies stood the test of time and distance. Consider the writing on a Pilgrim’s t-shirt: Know Pain Know Gain.We are Peregrinos!!!The video of our entry into Santiago de Compostela – click here

Camino de Santiago Portugues Day 18

I took way too many photos today. So how about I post some (still too many) and you tell the story.

If you decide to share your story please sign your name to it.

37,357 steps and 15.81 miles to A Escravitude, Spain. 


Camino de Santiago Portugues Day 17

Every morning we start with jackets, beanies and knee socks. The air is crisp. Within 2 hours we’ve worked up a sweat between our backs and packs – the rising sun forces us to exchange clothes for sunblock. 

Below are photos taken in order so that you may enjoy the Camino with us. 

Today we all felt like barn horses hoping to reach our hotel in Caldes de Reis  (known for its thermal waters) sooner than later. We walked with purpose. 

31,108 steps and 13.41 miles took us to our rooms at the charming Balneario Hotel Dávila. 

A peek into the kitchen at our morning coffee stop.

Our 2 accordian players and their amigo.

Another dog looking for lunch!

Train tracks.

Our 2nd coffee stop.

The stench coming from this building was awful!

Flowing river plants.


Darrell sipping his wine bowl.

Bamboo garden at our hotel.

Public thermal foot bath.

Camino de Santiago Portugues Day 15

Bill and I slept with a mosquito last night. That darn thing buzzed our ears for hours. After jumping out of bed and turning on the lights 4 times trying to kill that f**king thing Bill ultimately smashed it in his ear. We only had 2 hours left to sleep.

Another glorious day through wooded areas on cushy paths and rural neighborhoods on pavement.

Ferns, ferns – everywhere.

Yucky burbs.


We had the best Pilgrim’s lunch today. It is where I fell in love with Fabado – cooked beans similar to pinto beans. I dressed them with vinegar, salt and a bit of Tobasco Sauce. Unbeknownst to the rest of the group I have never eaten a bowl of beans. My new favorite meal! When Bill and I walked the Camino Frances we learned to eat the Pilgrim’s menu (a starter, entre and dessert) at lunch time instead of the usual 8:30 mealtime. Opting for a glass of wine and less heavy tapa in the evening.

We walked 28,330 steps and 12.02 miles into Cesantes, Spain where some of our rooms overlook the Atlantic. 

The Atlantic.



Hydrangea bigger than my hand.

Granite walls for the longest distance.

The outline on the ground for displaying flowers for Corpus Christi Day

The afternoon washing of our clothes

Camino de Santiago Portugues Day 14

What a marvelous day! 

It was so good to be back on the Camino after 2 days and 3 inches of rain. Not to mention it is wonderful to be back in spectacular Spain!

España cares about marking the Camino, they cater to the Peregrino, the towns are lively but that darn siesta hour is so hard to get used to. 

Our walk today was filled with delightful views, soft terrain, goats, sheeps, crosses, horses, Roman bridges, roses, kiwi farms, hydrangeas, trout streams, lots of pilgrims and Chappy’s bottom.

We walked 26,489 steps and 11.26 miles into Porriño, Spain.

The building sign says Vending

Here is the vending machine.

Pan = Bread. This is in the block wall around a house.

Mail and Bread

Lots of Pilgrims


Chappy

A painting on a block wall.


Kiwi Farm

Camino de Santiago Portugues Day 8

The Camino book said we would be walking through the burbs of Porto for 2 days. It would be level filled with pavement and highway traffic.

Our day did not look like that. We had small towns, eucalyptus forests, hot houses, rockslide, detours, dirt paths, Hugh inclines and a marvelous day filled with the ever present f-ing dog barking.

The reason is – we walked 9 miles east of the Camino – following the yellow arrows the whole way! What the heck?  Who put them there and why?

Miraculously we came upon a BMW filled with 4 people who with Darrell and Roxanne and weird cirtumstances too long and crazy to explain – determined that we were WAY off course. They became our saviors – ordered taxis to the town we were supposed to be in – Vilarinho (only 2 hours and 45 minutes away by walking).

Chappy, Rich, Ricardo, Grande, Cheapy, Richard and Dick has acquired a few new names along the Camino – Chapmeister, Cheapmeister and Ricky Alan not to mention the new 2 blisters on his toes. Every step reminds him that he’s alive!

My Fitbit said we walked 39,604 steps and 16.76 miles. Chappy’s GPS said 18.1 miles. Tomorrow should be around the same.


 

 

Camino Santiago Portugues Day 7

Another foggy start but the sun broke through much earlier today. We peeled off the layers earlier than usual. The sun makes our packs feel heavier.

We climbed straight uphill out of Agueda into a commercial area – our first experience with traffic lights – they cause congestion – roundabouts keep the traffic moving.  

The yin and yang of walking….. ugly industrial areas to beautiful abandoned mansions. 

 Noisy construction zones to peaceful fishing on a Roman bridge.

Pavement to acres and acres of eucalyptus trees with trucks harvesting the same.
***In Portugal it is imperative to own a barking dog. 
***In Portugal out of the cities it’s essential to own a tractor to work the fields and to go to town for dinner and shopping. 

In Portugal Cala lilies grow wild

and some decorators have a quirky sense of repurposing.

22,634 steps and 10.15 miles into Albergaria-a-Velha.

 

Camino de Santiago Portugues Day 4

Today, we Pilgrims marched to the beat of Darrel – he kept our pace. Who better but a drummer – the metronome man.  

We mostly walked the highway – sharing the road. It was loud, dangerous and DRY – skirting the low laying muddy paths.We have now stood inches from an 18 wheeler – multiple 18 wheelers – two 18 wheelers side by side going 70!

On the backroads Bill charmed a group of women – offered a sweet woman his walking sticks in exchange for her cane. She kindly accepted and didn’t want to give them back.34,616 steps and 14.71 miles- all on pavement. Our bodies are angry. 

Darrell found a great little apartment in Coimbra for tonight – wall to wall laundry.Tomorrow – the authentic Camino – hopefully with no deviations.


Camino de Santiago Portugues Day 3

We started today in the fog – it was cool, mystical and invigorating -lifting by noon. It was hilly – testing our lungs – up and down – up and down. We followed a Roman road paralleled by stone walls – tall grasses, olive orchards, wine vineyards and colorful flowers – the muddy paths forced us to trespass. Then plan B – the occasion muddy path turned into MUD all the time. We headed for the highway and rural town roads.  Pavement equals pain! It’s rough on the body. 

We endured – walked 46,881 steps and 19.91 miles.

Now in Rabaçal, Portugal. Our pension is marginal at best. The only game in town. 29 beds but private rooms – $15 euro per person – sheets and scuzzy blankets – no towels. It’s a bed and we’re grateful.

Tourist comment explained…

Bill and I are tourists – we all are from time to time.

However….. As prescribed in every church, mosque and temple, that we have visited in the past months and years – when there is a service taking place it is not a tourist destination.

Bill and I were offended by the many who stepped in front of us to take a photo – gawk and then leave – oblivious to the mass taking place.

That is all I was talking about.