I am leaving today for a week in Paris. This is my gift to me for making it on the El Camino de Santiago. I thought that we better share with you the second post about that trip before I leave on this one. And by the way, I hope to check in on our Instagram stories everyday, so if you want to see what I am up to in Paris, follow us here. Today I am going to continue to answer questions that you all asked about the 200 mile hike I took (and the 500 mile hike that my husband took.) To read part one, go here. Here is my hike on the El Camino de Santiago – Part 2.
Was it safe?
(A statue of St. James)
This was the number one question that we were asked. My answer is absolutely YES! In fact, we saw more women hiking than men. We saw women alone, and we saw women in groups. To clarify, most people kind of pair up with others who begin the hike at the same time they do or who walk at he same pace.
(Sunrise on day two.)
However, sometimes you just want a day or more to yourself, and it is perfectly safe to do that. There really wasn’t anything that would cause the hike to be unsafe other than some of the rough terrain we had to climb and descend. There were lots of long, lonely spots, but they were safe.
(I loved this little car that was parked beside a fruit stand.)
What was the weather?
When we hiked in late August and September, the temperatures were mostly in the high 60’s and low 70’s. Mornings were in the 50’s. We had rain just one day, but that was the luck of the draw. It was cooler in the mountains, of course, and it would be much hotter in the middle of summer.
(Part of my typical outfits. If it was cool, we wore jackets, too, and I always had a bandanna.)
What did you wear?
It was definitely not a style show. For hiking, I took light weight wick away shirts. Two were long-sleeved, and one was short-sleeved. I wore these shirts as my base layer. I took three pairs of these leggings and three pairs of wool socks. As you know, I do laundry or send it out when we travel so I don’t have to take so much stuff, and I used these DIY laundry sheets to do my laundry. I used two of my biking jackets (one was rain proof) for warmth because they are very light weight but warm, and wore this hat for sun protection. I also had water proof pants to wear over my clothes on the rainy day. I had a good pair of hiking boots, but I left them in Spain on purpose.
(Stamping my Camino “passport.”)
What is the Camino passport?
The passport is a little booklet that hikers keep with them the entire time. They get it stamped two to three times daily by their hotel, restaurants, and churches. The stamps are dated, and they prove that we hiked the trail. When we arrived in Santiago, we showed the passport to some officials, and they gave us a certificate. You have to walk at least 100 kilometers to qualify for a certificate, and the passport verifies how far we walked.
(There were water fountains along the way with drinkable water. Sometimes they contained wine!)
Why did you do it?
I did the hike to spend time with my husband, and I am always up for a challenge and an adventure. Mike did the hike because the bicycle trip that he had hoped to do was cancelled. Many people do the El Camino de Santiago as a religious pilgrimage because that is why it started hundreds of years ago. It had a resurgence in popularity in the 1990’s and thousands of people do the different routes each year.
(A popular rest stop.)
Would you recommend it?
I would recommend it to anyone who is physically fit enough to do it and who isn’t high maintenance. There is no room for high maintenance on this trip. You have to be in good walking shape, and if you plan to stay in hostels, then you need to be able to carry your pack on your back. It is a great way to meet new people, learn about their countries through the conversations you have while walking, see new things, get fresh air and exercise, and get in touch with your inner thoughts. They say the Camino changes you. I did make some decisions about my life and how I want to live it, and now I am trying to keep my promises to myself.
(Every hiker leaves a special rock at the foot of this cross. I left a rock from my childhood home, and Mike’s rock came from the lawn of his elementary school and church.)
Did you get lost?
The trail is marked with yellow arrows or shells in various forms. Sometimes they were on official looking posts, but mostly they were painted on walls, signs, sidewalks, trees, buildings, fences, and roads. I guess a person could get lost, but that would be because they were not paying attention.
(The trail passed by many, many churches so that pilgrims had the opportunity to stop and pray and reflect. There was always an evening mass that we could attend.)
Would you do it again?
Yes, and we are. Next year we plan to do the Portugal route. Since we did this hike in the fall, we will do our next hike in the spring to get a different perspective. I need to start looking for a new pair of hiking boots. Yikes!
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