Posts tagged spain
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.

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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.

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Day 35+: Santiago de Compostela, Spain- Porto, Portugual- Lisbon, Portugal

We woke up in our room fit for royalty, in the parador, and were so happy we didn't have to walk anywhere other than to the bus station today. We took our time getting to breakfast, and HOLY MOLY, it was a buffet also fit for royalty. AND THEY HAD GLUTEN FREE EVERYTHING. On top of this, we ran into Lane from TX. We all seemed to be walking on cloud nine. We caught up with him and took some photos in front of the Cathedral together before parting ways. Guys, if you can afford it, try to stay int his parador once you make it to Santiago. It's worth every penny. 

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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. 

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Day 31: Portomarin to Palas de Rey aka It was all a Fog

Woke up with achy muscles and a sore throat... I guess the patio wasn´t as warm as I had perceived it to be last night.  I´m surprised I have held out without getting sick for this long, so I can´t really complain.  It´s really only a few more days until we reach Santiago.  We again declined the 8 euro a person buffet at this new hotel, and opted for just coffee.  It was foggy beyond belief outside, and you couldn´t see more than 100 ft in front of you. This made what seemed to be the hundreds of new pilgrims following us look like zombies protruding from out of the fog.  The fog also gave the lost city of the river an even more eerie vibe.  

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Day 30: Sarria to Portomarin aka Well, I'll be dammed

We decided to decline the €10 a person breakfast buffet that the hotel had to offer.  Instead we opted for coffee and gluten-free stale muffins for 2 euros each at nearby bar.  This AM was cold, and as we were leaving Sarria, I kept thinking to myself that I am sure this city has more to offer, and that we weren´t in a good mindset yesterday to enjoy it.

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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.

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Day 21: Leon to Hospital de Orbigo aka This Charming Man

I was surprised to wake up as late as 8:30 AM this morning, but I got the sense that I was trying to sleep something off. We bumped into a couple of pilgrims we knew yesterday, and all had a cold. This is why I’ve been dousing myself with Doterra’s OnGuard essential oil since I’ve been here, and I feel like it has helped some. We headed down for our last breakfast at the hotel. Their staff is really so affable. We grabbed a map to spot the location of the post office and a few other stores we wanted to hit up before heading out. So, who spends €140 mailing out postcards and souvenirs? Obviously, I do… Luckily the post office system is really organized. I grabbed my ticket (number 82) and had enough time to place everything in proper envelopes. The postman was sweet and patient, most likely because he knew how much I was spending. I justify it thinking it’s better than carrying it all on my back. After that, we headed to a few stores, including Mercadona, a supermarket known to have a gluten-free section. Stocked up on bread and pasta, all for €5. Such a steal! 

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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.

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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.

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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?”

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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.

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Day 14: Burgos to Castrojeriz aka Glamping

Woke up late and wasn’t feeling too hot. I think yesterday took a lot out of me. At breakfast we were told by the waitress that there were no busses heading to Burgos for the remainder of the day. We’d forgotten how far out of town we were and found out a taxi would cost us €20 to get to the city's center. Bummer. Minutes later, the waitress tells us that the owner was heading to Burgo’s to go to our old hotel to drop off a couple of things (same company) and that if we wanted we could ride with him. Once again, the Camino provides!

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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.

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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).

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Day Six: Estella to Los Arcos aka Wine Fountains!

Breakfast was great in our pension – They had fried eggs and gluten-free bread awaiting my taste buds. Turns out the super market in Estella has tons of GF options (see photo). Our goal for the AM was to eat, stop by the pharmacy for steroids and supportive braces and exchange some dinero at the bank. The first pharmacy we went to was not at all helpful, but we did buy a box Predisona (no prescription needed — €2.50). We decided to head to a different pharmacy (see photo) that was super helpful and found us a proper knee and ankle brace (€20 each), as well as electrolytes (€2.50 per packet). Electrolytes seem impossible to find here, so my recommendation is to bring a box if you ever do this. Ok, so the bank will only exchange $150.00 a day. We have decided the exchange rate isn’t too terrible at ATMs, that withdrawing money turns out to be a lot more convenient and less of a risk than carrying a wad of moola on you. But of course, it’s always important to carry cash on you, just in case. Another thing, the bank won’t exchange change, only dollar, dollar bills, y'all… Meh.

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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.

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Intro to Camino de Santiago Journal

Your future female Anthony Bourdain, except traveling solo on a budget... And not a chef. This was my blog's original tagline, until my mom decided to join me for the entire length of the pilgrimage. I wrote in my journal and posted blog entries onto Tumblr everyday for my family and friends to follow along, despite any lethargy or physical pain for the kms of walking.

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