Posts tagged pilgrimage
10 Ways to Battle Post-Camino Blues/Depression

Two years ago, after weeks of walking over 500 miles across the north of Spain, I wearily stepped foot into Santiago de Compostela, the celebrated finish line of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. The Camino provided me with a life-changing journey and I gained unforgettable realizations and confidence from the experience. And for the longest time after I returned home, all I could think about was being back on the Camino; the same Camino I cursed day after day for the physical and emotional struggles it caused. Despite these hardships, the peace and serenity I found throughout the long walk, along with the freedom and liberation from the stresses of my daily life couldn’t be matched in the ‘real world.’ Before I knew it, the elation I felt while on The Way (another term for the Camino), turned into a post-Camino depression.

Read More
I would walk 500 Miles: An Anecdotal Transition back to the 'Real World' after Completing the Camino de Santiago de Compostela Pilgrimage in Spain

The Camino seems like a far-away dream at this point. A dream that I wish I hadn't woken up from. To think that just two years ago, I was a pilgrim; walking an average of 10 miles a day from pueblo-to-pueblo or city-to-city.  It’s been a little while since I stepped foot in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, the celebrated finish line of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (Camino Frances route) Pilgrimage. I vividly remember that moment and everything I had worked for up until then… the blood (literally… the unearthly blisters!), the sweat and tears that went into walking those 500 miles (800 km) from St. Jean-Pied-Du-Port (eastern side of the Pyrenees mountain range), France to the Galician city of Santiago de Compostela (northwestern Spain). All worth it, along with a picture in front of the famous cathedral and a Compostela (certificate) to document this feat I completed.

Read More
Day 34: O Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compestela aka THE FINISH LINE!!!

Walking into Santiago felt like it took forever, but I never walked so lightly, so briskly into a city on the Camino. What a feeling ! Which I believe would be more bitter than sweet, if it weren’t for this cold (slightly better) and my blister-riddled feet. Santiago is an old and beautiful city, full of history. But I seem to always visit cathedrals while they are being renovated. There were quite a few pilgrims rejoicing in front of the construction site (that’s what it was).  They were all either crying, laughing, hugging, or laying on the square’s floor, staring at the clouds and digesting their own feelings. I didn’t recognize most, but I did run into Thomas, Tongdo, Mitchell and Peter.  Peter was my Camino stalker from Hungary, who I felt the need to take a photo with in front of the cathedral (because it was a win-win situation).  As the photo was being taken, and with a heavy accent he told me that he hoped he as a Hungarian was a positive representation of Hungary, causing me to burst out into laughter. Then apologized for perhaps making me feel uncomfortable for placing his arm around me for the photo. Nah dude, you breathing heavily behind me on the trail and in restaurants made me feel uncomfortable.

Read More
Day 33: Ribadiso to O Pedrouzo aka Sick and Tired

My cold is pretty bad, and I’m sad to say I was ‘that’ person in the alrbergue last night who could not stop coughing. No sleep, resulting in being up earlier than usual. Luckily, Europe’s Daylight Saving’s time occurred today, giving us ‘sunshine’ aka gloomy light an hour earlier than usual. Other than what seemed like endless walking, and forcing myself to eat tasteless calories, I can’t remember much from today. And as you can see, didn't take very many photos. 

Read More
Day 32: Palas de Rey to Ribadiso aka Pulpo Fresco

Upon leaving our ´hotel,´we located a bar to have coffee and zummo OJ.  It wasn´t raining until about 10 minutes into our trail.  Having a cold, this really put a damper on things (no pun intended).  Luckily we had stopped at a pharmacy were I was able to get some herbal medicine.  I was also able to get a refill on my prescriptions I had on me.  Why is the US Healthcare system as corrupt as it is?  For example, I got 30 Tramadol tablets for 5 euros without a prescription or insurance.  Must be nice, Europe.  Must be real nice. Unfortunately, no Z-pack without a prescription. 

Read More
Day 29: Fonfria to Sarria aka Zummo!

Our albergue may not have had any gluten-free breakfast options, but it did have a Zummo vending machine. Take note: Christmas/Hanukkah/Birthday wish-list only includes this vending machine. In all seriousness, we knew that real food was 12 km away, and that we couldn’t afford to skip out on two meals like we did yesterday since we were completing 23k today. Therefore, we sat for an all-American (ha) breakfast at a bar in Triscaterra, 12k in.

Read More
Day 28: Herreira to Fonfria aka Pallozas

The coffee was super crappy this morning, which meant we would have to wait for 12 km, all uphill until we could get our hands on some descent Joe and hopefully something edible. We were however grateful for the sunshine, bringing us some surreal views. Our app recommended taking the road rather than the trail set out for pilgrims. Perhaps we were sharing the road with cars and bikes, but we didn’t have to climb down and back up and up again for more of an incline, unlike the other pilgrims.

Read More
Day 26: Ponferrada to Villafranca de Bierzo aka "A farmer doesn't eat what he doesn't know"

I had some coffee, OJ and the rest of the gluten-free bread I was given for free yesterday. It was surprisingly not that cold outside and the weather report said no rain, but the gray colored clouds seemed to think otherwise. I don’t trust meteorologists.

Read More
Day 25: Acebo to Ponferrada aka Two Paths

Our breakfast this morning made up for yesterday’s mediocre dinner, and it was included in our stay. The skater boy setting it up gave me an entire loaf of the gluten-free bread to-go (the one I really like here). We thought by 9:30 AM we would be the last to leave our albergue, but rather the family from Delaware was right ahead of us, finishing up their bfast upon our arrival. With only 13 miles to complete today, we figured there was time to spare. The descent down the mountain was steeper than expected, and we saw absolutely no pilgrims on the trail. There were times when we were questioning whether we were on the right path, then a yellow arrow would show up out of no where. There were also a couple of moments where we could hear gunshots from a distance.. Most likely hunters, we figured.

Read More
Day 24: Rabanal to Acebo aka Mad Cow(s)

Once again, we were awoken by church bells at 7 AM (I’m glad they have not one, but three churches for a town of less than 50). Really though, how have people not made any complaints about this? Breakfast was five euros and I would’ve paid five euros to get back my untainted taste buds. I was initially stoked to hear that that they had gluten-free bread, but it turned out to be as old as the Roman remains in town. I swear it may, or may not have had mold on it. Luckily, I still had day-old toasted bread from Astorga yesterday that I saved in case of emergency. I suppose this was an emergency.

Read More
Day 23: Astorga to Rabanal aka Church Bells

The church bells made it impossible to continue sleeping in our wonderful, warm and comfy beds. How are people in these towns 'ok' with church bells going off until midnight and then waking up you up again at 7 AM? Seven hour of silent sleep isn't enough. We barely made it outside before hitting a wall of 1°C cold fog, forcing us to throw on more layers. The fog gave the city this eerie vibe we weren’t accustomed to. We decided to stop at the café for coffee and OJ, and toast (the gluten-free bread I purchased yesterday). We then went to the cathedral where mass was taking place, and took pictures realizing later that there was a poster with a camera crossed off in the front. Sorry Jesus.

Read More
Day 20: Rest day in Leon aka And I'm (un)Happy when it Rains

Woke up at 7 AM this morning, and had an amazing breakfast. Amazing because the staff (who are all awesome) had gluten-free bread waiting for me. While feastin’, this group of cute hip rockers walked in for some Johnny Walker and cerveza. They clearly hadn’t slept yet. Soon after they went outside with their booze and instruments and played some great jams. Although I was watching from afar, and a few of them had waived hello to me, I was much too shy to take a video of them playing their own awesome rendition of ‘Like a Rolling Stone.’ After their short impromptu concert, I was happy to catch up on blogging and even finished filling out all 35 postcards.

Read More
Day 19: Sahugun to Leon aka “Sin dolor, no hay Camino”

At 6:30 AM we were awoken by the sound of loud church bells. I suppose it was time to rise for the The Last Breakfast... Ha! After packing up our belongings, we headed to the comedor, where we found Bridgette. She told us how the head nun yelled at her this morning for apparently leaving her bathroom light on all night, and thus wasting energy. “I don’t know how she knew I had left it on? I need it for when I use the restroom at night and can’t see.” We exchanged our own nun-run ins. I informed the nun I was allergic to gluten yesterday, so I had a banana and yogurt awaiting my arrival, while the others had plastic wrapped pastries. We paid €3 each for this feast, since we’re all told that nothing else would be open at this time (7:15 AM). Have I mentioned that sunrise isn’t until 8:30 AM here? So it's pretty dark when we begin walking.

Read More
Day 18: Terradillos de los Templarios to Sahugun aka The Camino Ghost

We are currently staying in a monastery (Albergue de las Madres Benactidinas) where the stamp they use looks like it’s a HP dementor... Quite fitting for them. Where do I start with this place? It is €17 per person to stay in a creep double room, and they charged us €10 each to wash and dry our clothes and wouldn’t even wash everything in the bag provided, because they said we packed too much inside? Mind you, the nun busted into our room while I was showering just to tell us this. Later on, when it was time to grab our laundry, she angrily told me I nearly broke the dryer because our clothing had too much lint? I was shocked by the way she spoke to me, and could not formulate a response, and then she said, “wow poor girl, you don’t speak any Spanish at all, do you?”

Read More
Day 17: Carrion de los Condes to Terradillos de los Templarios aka Alban's Four Fears

Dear blister gods, why do you hate me so? I’m writing this with bloodstained socks. We woke up early this AM and went straight to the to the grocery store, knowing that we wouldn’t have anything to eat for 17.5 km or 10 miles on today's camino. The woman working there was pretty rude. I asked about any gluten-free options, and she responded with a quick and sure ‘no.’ Even when I showed her the bag of cookies I found in one of the aisles that clearly stated ‘Gluten Free,’ she said they weren’t. My Greek mom, minutes after asked if she spoke any English, and again she responded with a quick 'no.’ My mom then asked her if she was a nice person, and she responded (with no surprise), 'no!’ My mom then said, “I already knew that.” I nearly peed my pants watching this scene before my eyes. I realized Spaniards might hate us (pilgrims). Bridgette (you will hear more about her later) told us this is due to pilgrims having a history of being rude and offensive and even knocking on doors at 6 AM to use villager’s restrooms. I’d probably be annoyed with us too.

Read More
Day 11: Belorado to Atapuerca aka Neanderthals!

We thought our very mediocre hotel would’ve a least included breakfast, but alas, we paid an extra €12 extra for some empty calories. How do you say BS in Spanish? It was 10K to the first town, and the trail paralleled the road the entire time. I can’t stand when the Camino parallels the road or the highway, as it takes away from the Camino charm. In the town of Villa Franca, we met up with other peregrinos and headed up towards the mountains. Inclines are never too exciting, but we ran into Noah, from DC, who we had not seen since the first day. He told me that our friend Ana was probably already in Burgos, and thought that he too would walk the full 30 miles to get there by today. He introduced me to a couple of his Italian friends, who spoke limited English. I love being lost in translation on this Camino... Communication seems to fluctuate between hand gestures and laughter.

Read More
Day Eight: Logroño to Azofra aka The Camino Provides

Logroño was quite rainy this morning, but doable. I got to mail out my postcards (€1 to the USA), which was easier than I thought it would be. In Argentina, they ask you a million questions before they put a stamp on something you'd like to send out. Prior to leaving, we had coffee and a snack (€5) at a cute café we spotted yesterday. It´s a wine bar, with an adorable bathroom (see photo).

Read More
Day Four: Pamplona to Puenta la Reina aka Running with the Bulls

We got some great sleep last night, thanks to the awesome hotel we stayed in. We decided to explore Pamplona this AM, because it’s Pamplona ! It’s a medium sized city, with a lot to offer. Something I noticed was a lot of cute hip dads with their babies... Machismo-ness (real word) is so last century. We got to eat at Bar Gaucho aka Pinxtos heaven for brunch (most are naturally gluten/dairy free). I believe my future ex-husband, Anthony Bourdain paid a visit there. Nonetheless, it was the most highly recommended place to dine. Each pinxto was roughly €3 each, completely worthwhile. Getting out of the city was a pain, as there was some sort of ‘Old Pamplona’ festival.

Read More
Day Three: Zubiri to Pamplona aka Parque de la Taconera

Just about all of us had a late start today, possibly because some of us got into private hostels and we’re finally able to have sound sleep, who knows. Nonetheless, we started are day off with a cappuccino and breakfast pinxtos. We spoke to the gentleman working, who said he is trying to perfect his English so he can move to England, since there is no money to make in Spain. T'was bien. Ended up passing Klaus and Thomas, due to their hungoveredness (it’s a word). The trail was beautiful, without too many steep portions. I should mention that people, not just Peregrínos are super nice on the trail. It's like holiday season, all of the time. We’ve had waiters offer their place and a couple of randomers (another word) offer us assistance when we’ve stopped alongside the road. It’s refreshing. 

Read More
Day Two: Roncesvalles to Zubiri aka “the Spanish have their kilometers wrong.”- Klaus

We had a late start, due to waiting for our bags to arrive from Orrison to Roncesvalles. Remember how I said we were supposed to stay in Orrison? So did our backpacks, but we couldn't afford waiting around for them, because of the cold weather.

Read More