I’ve been trying to plan our upcoming Camino Trail walking trip—without over-planning. If you’ve met me before, or even just read a few of my posts, you probably know that I LOVE to plan and to GEEK OUT on details! I really can’t stop myself. It’s like that Geico commercial …”It’s what I do.”
My husband and I have done a Camino walk once before (8 days from Tui, Portugal to Santiago de Compostela, Spain). No surprises – I planned, and I planned. I booked our accommodations (at bed and breakfasts) in advance and even had our larger backpack transported to where we would be staying each evening. We loved that walk, and we vowed for our next Camino “we” (read here: “I”) would not over plan. We would have no set agenda for how far we would walk each day. We would carry our full packs and, in the evenings, we would stay in auberges (multi-bed dorms) without the constraints of booking in advance. Idealistic visions ran through our heads. Then the actual trip date drew nearer, and I began to plan…and to freak out…just a bit (okay, a lot)!
We have nine walking days for this trip, and will be coming from Manchester (leaving the day after our youngest son’s doctoral graduation). St. Jean Pied de Port, in the French Pyrenees, is the traditional starting point. BUT there is that initial steep climb from 200 meters above sea level to just above 1,400 meters AND the sharp descent back down. My mind suffocated with images of me on hands, knees, and shins–clinging to the trail for dear life! I kept researching. We could fly directly into Bilbao and do the northern route to Unquera instead. That particular section of the Camino is rated as an easier walk than the Pyrenees route, and it would be much easier for us to fly there from Manchester. Knowing what I am like at times like this, my husband said he was happy with either itinerary and left the room (wise man)! I kept trying to book the northern trip – I honestly did — but something kept calling me back to the Basque province in France.
There is a common saying, “the Camino will provide.” So with that as my mantra, the Camino Frances it is! We now have our flights booked from London to Biarritz, and from Bilbao to London ten days later. Not that we have any naïve intention of walking all of the way to Bilbao–we do figure that we could likely make it as far as Logonoro or Najera. That would mean walking 18 – 21K each day, which we think is quite doable (she says with confidence). Since we are not walking for a certificate, we are also open to skipping sections, by bus or train, if there is another section we really would like to see.
Any “Camino Angels” out there who have thoughts or recommendations to share, I’d LOVE to hear from you.
Below are a few pics from our first Camino (2010)