Almost starting the Camino…

Before dinner walk on a windy beach with my newphe and his girlfriend
Before dinner walk on a windy beach with my newphe and his girlfriend
Sunset selfie with my brother and sister-in-law and Westertoren in background
Sunset selfie with my brother and sister-in-law and Westertoren in background
I’m currently en route by train from Deventer to Amsterdam. Tomorrow I move one step closer to the main purpose of this trip, walking the Camino. I’ll catch a 9 a.m. train to Paris where I’ll spend the rest of the day; Saturday I travel on to St. Jean Pied de Port, de start of the Camino Frances.

The past week I spent in the Netherlands visiting my mom, other family and friends. I managed two practice walks, a 10km one and a 20km one; the latter with (almost) full gear. Both routes took me along the river IJssel. The first one northward; the second south to the town of Zutphen, from where I caught the train back to Deventer. It’s sobering to walk for 4 hours and then be back at your starting point with a 10 minute train ride, but the trains also make it possible to do long one-way walks rather than having to retrace your steps. I include pictures from both walks: farm land and walking routes along the river high with spring run-off from the Alps, shipping on the IJssel, and daunting skies. 

There’s only one word to describe the weather this week: Bad: cold; heavy rain showers; some thunder; hail and sleet. Definitely not spring weather. A shame, because Wednesday was Kingsday in the Netherlands, a national holiday to celebrate the King’s birthday; a big event that attracts many tourists, but many outdoor events were cancelled. Lida, my sister in law, and I spent much of the day at a spa, lounging in saunas and steam rooms.

The forecast for St. Jean Pied de Port, from where I’ll start walking Sunday morning, and Roncesvalles, where I intend to end Sunday afternoon, are not good either: lows of 0 Celcius; highs of 9 and rain. Glad I brought all my rain gear.

OK, so now it’s a few hours later and I’m in Amsterdam. Went for a nice casual dinner with my brother Mel and sister in law Phan. I shot this selfie on the 200m walk home on a bridge on the Prinsegracht with the Westertoren (very famous) barely visible in the background. Either the tower made it in the picture or us, so we all appear a bit chopped off.

Looking back at town of Voorst
Looking back at town of Voorst
Trees in different shapes and sizes
Trees in different shapes and sizes
Nice walking trail between farm fields
Nice walking trail between farm fields
In case I was home sick for North America...at least they serve good beer
In case I was home sick for North America…at least they serve good beer
Forest trail...no need to worry about bears
Forest trail…no need to worry about bears
Dark skies. I love the blue and green contrast
Dark skies. I love the blue and green contrast
Tanker going by
Tanker going by
Shadow of a pilgrim (me)
Shadow of a pilgrim (me)
Universal long-distance walking trail signs
Universal long-distance walking trail signs
High water flooding the flood planes
High water flooding the flood planes
Bend in the river IJssel
Bend in the river IJssel
 

First three days on the Camino

Day 3 and in Pamplona. The day before I started was rainy and and overnight a lot of rain. Fortunately that stopped by morning. However, up in the mountains it had snowed which made for a beautiful walk. It was cold so I kept walking and arrived at Roncesvalles in just I under 6:30hrs. A nice big modern hostel runby the Dutch st Jacobs society.

Weather has improved and getting warmer. Three great days of walking.

Met some Dutch folks. Yesterday had a nice afternoon with them, a Swede, an entertaining Danish couple, and a bartender who did more drinking than the guests. Very amusing.

So far so good. No blisters. Nice people. Today was short at about 17km. Tomorrow will be about 25km again. Using my Fitbit-doing around 38000 steps per day. Will be over a million by the end of the trip. Off to bed now. Below some pics from the last few days.

Day 9 and first 200km done

Day 5 – Estrelle

Two more days of nice walking through beautiful country, most of in the company of my Dutch and Danish walking friends. Great weather but it does get hot by noon. Tomorrow we should have some clouds and they’re forecasting rain, but only 2-3mm.

Have met a few Canadians so far. Am bunking with a girl from Victoria. There is also a group of Koreans walking the Camino who are devout Catholics. I had no idea. The guy who seems to be leading the group is a delightful guy with a very cheery face. I last spotted him lying I the grass getting his feet massaged by this wife and giving us the thumbs up. There is a fun mix of characters walking this route.

It’s now several days later and things continue to go well. Good walking, but good weather and nice people. After walking much of last last week with two Dutch people I decided today to carry on by myself. It was nice being a little group but it’s a different from walking by yourself.  I’ll try to post some pics later. Right now I can’t seem to upload them–wifi is pretty dodgy.

Camino pictures

Some pictures from the last few days. The trick seems to be to do this first thing in the morning when no one else is using the wifi.

 

Half Way on the Camino

Yesterday I passed the half-way point kilometer-wise; today the geographical halfway point.

The walking has been good as has the weather. The only rain so far was leaving the town of Burgos a few days ago. It rained steadily for several hours. Fortunately it stopped long before I reached my destination, so I didn’t arrive soaking wet. It did turn the last part of the route into mud, which stuck to my boots and made walking slippery. The last few days the weather continues to improve.  It’s cool In the morning but warms up quickly. If things go according to plan, I’ll arrive in Leon in two days.

Today is a bit of a rest day–only 16km. I booked myself a room and look forward to resting, having my own shower, using a real towel instead of a camp towel, and exploring the town. It doesn’t take much to make a pilgrim happy.

I’m  enjoying the walking and the scenery but most of all the people. You don’t see each other for a few days sometimes, but then you run into each other again and it feels like a big reunion.

My room today is right on the route and for the last few hours I’ve watched pilgrims walk by.

Finally, a big thank-you for all your comments. It’s difficult to respond to all of them but due to the technical limitations, but I do appreciate them!