It was a very tough long day. We were very cheerful throughout – even in pelting rain and 40 mph winds.
We are frustrated by Spanish dining customs – can’t they see I’m so hungry I need to eat right f*ckibg now. Feed me you Iberian bastards! Now!
Ok, cheer a bit tested. Strava link to today’s stage
35 kilometres. 1000 metres of climbing. The descents are worse than the climbs – very steep and often Boulder strewn.
Countryside and seaside fabulous. Spanish bourgeoise are particularly bourgeoise. It’s like they have no idea of who we are. Children and adults alike look on in shock as we schlep around in shorts and Birkenstock’s while they are in winter coats and boots. I think would prefer being invisible than to being viewed contemptuously by Basque men partaking in their national sport (nose picking – solo and synchronized categories.
Off to bed.
Vasco de Gamma I ain’t.
We started in Irun this morning after short Metro ride out to a few metres from the Santiago Bridge. We walked out halfway on the bridge and touched our toes into France, took some pictures, and then got lost.
In fact we, and it’s unfair to include Di as part of navigation team, stayed lost most of the day. The favoured routes out of Irun run north and west out of town and then pretty much hug the coast. We after becoming disconnected from the guide arrows momentarily ended up on a Camino route that headed south and west. Our route had yellow arrows every 100 m or so and a mix of new and old signposts that identified the route,in Spanish and Basque, as the Camino de Santiago.
Right route wrong path. It was lovely route through Basque farming communities. Diana made every effort to become personally acquainted with every cow, mule, horse, dog and really all life forms enroute. We lost our wrong path but were aided by an amused shepherd whose property we were trespassing upon
So tired almost cross eyed. It’s 8:15 and after a long, slow and hilly day we ate a picnic of manchego, chorizo and Txalico (very young and somewhat fizzy white wine)). Txalico was a 1.60 € a glass last night in best Pintxos bar ever and 10 € a bottle in most avaricious deppaneur in Donostia. More excuse to abandon picnics and return to best tapas bar ever. Strava evidence of poorly navigated route.
Off to bed! Rest day tomorrow.
You may remember the scene in “This is Spinal Tap” where the band members were trapped in their alien pod props and were not released until the song was over. Just checking – it’s really appropo of nothing.
I think 20+ years of parenting can make a couple a bit inward looking. So part of becoming reacquainted as a couple is starting to be more social again as a couple. Or not. Either way we will have a month to talk about it – or not.
What we have really noticed, and appreciated, is how generous and helpful veteran caminogoers have been. At pilgrim gatherings and in other interactions everybody has been keen to talk, help and provide advice. It may have been even better if there was more consensus – but the lack of consensus reinforces that a Camino can be enjoyed and endured very individually.
We are now enroute – a wee bit of German labour activity cancelled our flight from Frankfurt to Bilbao so Air Canada (the yyj check in people were absolutely awesome) rerouted us through London and on to British Airways to Bilbao. Bumped onto a 787 Dreamliner which is a bit of treat as well. We managed to be very accepting of Prussian industrial labour strife – very pilgrims accept of us! Should be in a few hours later to San Sebastien but early enough that we hope to start first leg Thursday as originally planned.
Nothing seems to act more like chum in the water among Camino enthusiasts than footwear and foot care. All the really long topics on the forums and passionate discussions at gathering center upon them. We are new to this so keep our opinions to ourselves for the most part. However, the novice and the pro speak freely on the issue. We have tried to distill a reasonable action plan from this fire hose of information.
Boots, Shoes or Sandals?
We chose, after trying lots of options, lightweight hiking shoes. Many passionate voices extol the necessity of hiking boots and others talk lighter until they are in flip flops. Much of our trail is on asphalt and hikers seemed a hard sell for that surface and running shoes too light for the gravelly muddy bits. Chose non gortex thinking foot would get wet from sweat in non breathing gortex or wet from mud and rain – so we chose something we hoped would dry once it got wet. Scarpa Rapid Lights Trail Shoes.
Socks – we chose two different varieties (to avoid laundry arguments) of 2-layer wool socks with built in liners. Both pretty lightweight and low cut. They have worked well in practice. One from Wright socks and the other a wigwam. The double layer gets much support as blister preventing must haves.
Magical potions – Unicorn tears and whale sweat. Also popular duct tape, incantations, blister popping needles, liquid bandages, petroleum jelly. Vaseline gets a near consensus nod as the salve to rub on feet before a day of walking. Vaseline lacks magic. We were lucky to have Austrian friend who procured a care package of deer tallow cream for similar purpose but with more magical properties. Hopefully all these gear choices will be close enough to right that they don’t end up as pilgrim debris at side of trail or Spanish garbage bins.
We passed from a bit frantic to catonic sometime this week. We are ready to start so we can find out we are not. By coincidence, circumstance or contrivance we are feeling like we really need a long walk together. If we had not planned this for a long time time already I think we would have got here anyway – weird. The Camino provides or maybe life provides the Camino.
We have to, or at least have decided to, carry all our stuff through Spain. On busier routes you can have your backpack ferried from town to town for about 6 € a day per bag. That would add up and we are only really carrying about 20 pounds each so it would seem a bit wimpy.
We are walking through a fairly developed part of Spain passing most days through several towns and villages – so water and food will be pretty available so we have no need to carry more food, or water than we need for the day.
As packing guidance we hear over and over again that there are stores in Spain so don’t feel the need to bring lots of toiletries or any consumables as most everything we need will be available to buy as needed.
Our rubber Birkenstocks arrived and were greeted with real enthusiasm. Really more than half the weight of the Keens that they will substitute and also scary fashionable! I cycle a bit so can have the obsessive concern with weight that only a 260 pound Fred can.
There are lots of stories of the heavy impractical items that are ditched in the auberges early on the trail as pilgrims become acquainted with the burden of carrying all their weight. I assume that all the debris was considered essential at some point. We will withhold any smugness until we have some actual experience.