Day 3 – My kind of shopping…

Okay so today I’m going shopping. Japan is pretty much the centre of the known nerd Universe for videogaming. Being a said nerd, I take a short walk (5 miles) in to the Akihabara district. 

This is basically a technoheaven. Retrogaming shops galore, so yeah I spend a pretty penny. Live anime folls.on every corner. I resist the urge to perv and photograph, mainly because it will probably land you in jail. Japan loves to use the short skirts and big eyes to it’s advantage but try not to get too excited over it, or.you will find yourself getting a night in jail. I decide to spend my money on games instead, it proves a very fruitful trip.

Shopping done for the day I take the stroll back to Shinjuku. 

Although there is a McDonalds/Burger King or Subway on just about every street, I’m resisting the urge. Sure I’ve bought a few local delicacies that have ended up in.the bin but.it’s quite easy to be well fed here. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from and almost every shop counter has a hot.food service. Plenty of fried chicken and meat dumplings to choose from. Plenty for a carnivore.like me to get my teeth in to.

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Tokyo – Day 2

So today was just an orientation day. Taking a walk around the district and seeing what I can find.

I don’t do touristy stuff. It doesn’t interest me and generally is just a way to rip folks off. It’s better to just find your own way.

No jet lag either, which is good. I mean anyone who knows me understands that i rarely sleep properly anyway, so my body is pretty good at adapting to weird sleep cycles.

Straight out in to the Shinjuku district and it gives you a great taste of Japanese City life. Thousands of people going about their daily lives. Neon signs galore and wall to wall traffic. But all of it seemingly going about it in a calm and collected manner. Japanese people seem pretty respectful to each other. Bowing and apologizing for getting in your way, or to say thank you for getting out of their way, not the usual snarling and growling you get on the average English pathway.

As busy as this district gets, it’s a shopping mecca, you can easily get off the beaten track. It seems that Japan has maintained it’s traditional style of alleys to duck down and find the real Japan. Dive little bars and niche shops. But most of all, a lil peace and quiet is never far away.

It didn’t take long to get comfortable here. Everyone seems super friendly and all the relevant signage is dual language, with English along side Japanese, so it is easy to get around. Everywhere is clean and well organized, a strange concept for most of the Western hemisphere.

So far every stereotype you know about Japan has born true. They milk the anime style when trying to sell you something. It’s difficult to tell the difference between your average street hawker trying to get you in to their restaurant and a street hooker. I guess the main differences are the menu and the bill πŸ™‚

Sometimes you can do both. I found a noodle bar right next to a brothel, everyone gets the munchies after sex, right? They cater for everything. 

They even have a cafe where you mingle with cats… only in Japan!

Only been a day but really enjoying it so far.

 

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Earthquake update: If the beds a rockin’… you might wanna run :)

Apparently there were two pretty big quakes in the area today.
I felt the smaller of the two, a mere 5.4mag, as it was just off shore and closer.

Anything above a 4.0mag will wake you up. πŸ™‚

Was legit very cool. People panicked… I grinned like a cheshire cat πŸ™‚

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Moshi Moshi! Tokyo-a-go-go!

So this year is completely different. What started out as a random drunken discussion turned in to a whole new solo adventure.

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Tokyo… in Japan, just in case you didn’t know, is halfway around the World and a long way outside of my comfort zone. It sounded like a cool place to go! so I decided to go.

Generally I really hate cities. They are full of miserable impolite self absorbed lemmings.

But anyway, I committed myself to the adventure some time ago and counted down the days.

Now I have 14 days in Japan, really only 12 days on the ground due to the flights taking a day each way.

Everything went smoothly on the way out. Stopping over in Beijing, China, for about an hour. Both flights were pretty perfect. Luggage arrived safely with me in Tokyo, often a worry with long haul connecting flights as it is quite possible, that although I make it safely to Tokyo, my underwear could end up in New York. Probably causing Trump to threaten nuclear war with England due to my underwear being classed as weapons of mass destruction.

So, first hurdle accomplished. Now to find my way to the hotel. Taxi? nah, too easy. I bought prepaid tickets for a bus in to the City Centre. About a 40 minute journey, mostly expressways (motorways)

Bus station located, everything is signposted in both Japanese and English, so that was very easy. Also everyone serving me so far speaks very good English, unlike us failed ignorant westerners who can’t be bothered with other languages. I did learn the basic greetings before I came out here but it doesn’t look like I will need them much.

Okay so Japan is no 3rd World country. However they do appear to lack Wi-Fi hotspots of any kind. Fortunately I read about this before I left and the best solution is a pocket wifi receiver. You have to rent these and they are Β£60 for 2 weeks. Not a bad price to pay to subdue the internet addiction that we all suffer from nowadays. These are collected from the Airport. Everything seems to be going well.

The bus took me to exactly where it promised, well signposted again. So here I am, central Tokyo and about 23 hours after leaving England. But I am still a mile away from my hotel, surrounded by what appears to be half the populated universe of people. Bright lights, noise, traffic, hustle, bustle… this certainly isn’t the camino πŸ™‚

Taxi? pfffft… for amateurs. I take to the streets. 10kg backpack, day pack, tired eyes, weary legs and google maps. Sure I get lost, its part of the fun. I crossed the Shinjuku zebra crossing, probably the most famous crossing in the World due to its size and capacity for scurrying humans. Was kinda scary. Pictures of that i’m sure will follow at some point.

Further up the road I stop to take my first photograph of the bright and vibrant city that this is, before plodding on towards my bed. Not the best picture, they get better, but I just wanted to get on to the hotel.

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Whilst typing this, at midnight on the morning of October 7th, my bed has started shaking from side to side, and not due to anything I am doing! People are running from room to room panicking a bit. I guess I just experianced my first Japanese Earthquake πŸ™‚Β  That was kinda cool!!

Anyway on with my story. So I found my hotel… “ohayo gozaimas” I say, in my worst Japanese. “Hello, how may I help?” comes the reply from my super friendly receptionist. Ah well, I tried. So the hotel is small, old fashioned, but pretty cozy. Great welcoming folks and at least I have a bed.

End of day 1 and all went remarkably well.

 

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Day 16 – Leaving, on a jet plane…

Cudillero to Asturias Aeropuerto – 15 miles

It was a sad moment to leave this pretty little town today. Everyone has their place that they go to cleanse their soul, I certainly have those places in the UK and now I have one in Spain.

So the 10 mile stroll to the airport today turned in to 15 miles thanks to google maps. I decided to take it’s advice and follow the shortest route to the airport. After a 3 mile trek in the hills I returned to the road at EXACTLY the same place I had started an hour before!

It was a proper “What the fuck?” moment when I realised what had happened. I have never done that before, ever! Β Sure I have got lost but my nose always bought me home with no additional mileage. I was raging at my damn phone. Fucking technology! Great when it works. Turned that shit off and figured it out for myself.

Now a night at the airport beckons. Its a good job I have a fully charged Kindle, enjoy people watching and am very adept at talking bullshit to random strangers πŸ™‚

Adios Espana! Its been fun xx

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Day 15 – My spirit is crying for leaving

Chilling in CudilleroΒ 

This place reminds me of so many great places in the UK, a beautiful seaside port. It doesn’t matter where you go in the World; waves sound the same, the Sea smells of the SeaΒ and the gulls laugh in the same language. Looking at an ever changing horizon is a very peaceful moment.

This is the first place I fell in love with in Spain last year and it was always my intention to end this trip here again. I already feel like I’m back at home.

So the Camino is done and other than a couple of blisters it doesn’t feel like it. I could go and do it again, or at least carry on from here. Sadly real life gets in the way and the grind beckons. Still, if life was always a holiday then what would we have to look forward to? πŸ™‚

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Day 14 – Let’s go back to the start

Villaviciosa to Gijon: 18.91 miles

Joined up with last years start point today, this was the minimum that I wanted to achieve this year so I’m pretty chuffed considering the damn heat and then the damn rain.

19 miles done today and it was pretty painful. Went off-piste again and very glad I did. The original route was confusing and all inland. So thanks to Google maps I decided just to find my own way and it was much more satisfying, with more long shots of the Ocean until the beach finally loomed in Gijon.

That was supposed to be the port of call tonight but as soon as I saw the place I couldn’t wait to get out. It’s a huge City and I hate Cities, they are generally full of miserable people. So I decided to jump on a train to Cudillero, one of my favourite places from last year. The 2 hour train ride cost Β£3 and was 31 stops, the cost of 1 stop in the UK!

The train journey passed Asturias airport, the starting point of last year’s Camino. So the lines have officially been joined.

Got 2 days of rest here and then one finally little skip and hop of 10 miles back to the Airport on Sunday afternoon. Flight back is early Monday morning so I get quite a few hours of people watching.

Technically the Camino is over, I’m just backtracking on myself now.

It was another great experience. IF I do it again next year then I will look at a quieter route or perhaps do it at a different time of year. Or I’ll just find a similar path somewhere else in the World. Don’t think I’ll be sitting on a beach for 2 weeks, that’s for sure πŸ™‚

I just added up the final numbers:-

229 miles walked/limped/crawled in 13 days.

464,829 steps

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Day 13 – Netflix and chill

Villaviciosa rest day: 0.66 miles πŸ™‚

My feet continued to give me trouble all through the night last night so I had pretty much decided before I even woke up this morning that I needed a rest day.

Last year these things, rest days, didn’t exist. I walked a good pace every day. But this year they seem to be all the rage, everyone I have spoken to seems to have a couple of days walking followed by a rest. Perhaps it is the weather this year, long hot spells followed by long wet spells, it has certainly slowed the pace down. Or perhaps it is just another way that the Camino has changed. I wasn’t going to succumb to the hype but my left leg wouldn’t even let me stand on it and the torrential rain outside, forecast for most of the day, convinced me to be lazy. I actually felt quite guilty for not pushing on, but as I keep saying I have time and perhaps I did need to suck up some of the culture rather than watch it flash past in a blur.

At first I hated the idea. I honestly couldn’t imagine not doing anything. But then you realise that even though you are hundreds of miles from home you can still have your entire CD collection (Spotify) almost your entire film/TV collection (Netflix) and your entire book collection (Kindle) at hand. So it didn’t take long to occupy myself.

I had breakfast included on the hotel bill so I sat talking to another couple of Yanks who turned out to be IBM programmers from the 70’s/80’s, great conversation for a geek like me. I stepped out of the hotel once, for some lunch and the roadway was flooded. You can’t quite see it properly in the photo but it was a bit wet to say the least. It would not have been a good day to walk, fit or not.

Here’s the rather lovely place that I stayed in, wonderful hosts.

Have a plan for tomorrow, 16 miles to Gijon. More rain forecast though πŸ™‚

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Day 12 – For now I smell the rain, and with it pain, and it’s headed my way… ramble on.

Colunga to Villaviciosa: 13.45 miles

As soon as I hit the pavement today it didn’t take me long to realise something had gone wrong over night. My feet hurt, really hurt. Blisters I can deal with, that pain goes away after a while as I have been use to it since day one. But my feet hurt way beyond the blisters. Deep muscle pain and my ankles are on fire. Okay, tough day ahead.

This is the Bates Motel /  Hammer House of Horror I stayed in, allegedly alone, last night. But it was complete with a mystery guest who was heard but never seen.

The whole town had the look and feel of the old wild west.

Decided on a short’ish day today because the pain wasn’t going to go away and I have time in the schedule. No point permanently damaging anything.

Few hills climbed and a lot of woodland to navigate. A couple of long distance glimpses at the ocean but again most of this day was inland.

Well the pain didnt get any better so I gave in after 14 miles. Luckily the rain held off until 5 minutes after I rolled in to town.
205 miles now in total. If I do 15 again tomorrow then that matches last year’s trip in the exact same amount of days. 

I probably have 1 more day of walking after that and then I’m just going to collapse and go on holiday, for 2 days πŸ™‚

Then the final afternoon of walking will be back to the airport on Sunday night. 

I have some breathing space and really not entirely sure what to do with it. I might even stay right here an extra day. My feet are dead and it’s a beautiful town.

Lovely hotel too, for Β£20/night.

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Day 11 – Angry skies.

Ribadesella to Colunga: 15.19 miles

​I hear you are all still baking in the UK? Well I have traditional English weather right here πŸ™‚ 

Wet weather gear required for the next few days. Thunder and lightning storms for most of today. Angry skies and angry seas!

Day 11 done. 15 miles on the clock. Close to hitting the 200 mile total.

I think I will walk until Friday to beat last year’s mileage of 220 miles. Then relax by the Sea for the weekend, probably to dry out before flying home.

Remember that house last year that I stayed in where I was all alone in a huge place? Same thing again tonight. The difference being that it is the centre of town but a really, really old building. The town itself looks like the O.K. Corral ( Google that if you are too young!)

The room is huge and the house is 4 floors with dozen of rooms, but it’s just me. Must be 100+ years old. Wonderful architecture,  sloping wooden floors, it looks and feels like the whole place could collapse at any minute. The door is about as secure as match wood and it should most definitely be haunted,  if you believe in that sort of thing. I’ll let you know tomorrow and take pictures.

EDIT: It’s now late, dark, and lightning. This place is like a flippin Hammer Horror film (Google that too if you must!)

EDIT EDIT: The bloody roof is leaking!!!

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Day 10 – In grand company…

Llanes to Ribadesella: 23.47 miles

I’m not sure how much sense this is going to make because I just got back from a great meal out, joined by my new good friends Janet & Steve from So-Cal. A starter, main meal, icecream, whole bottle of local rose wine and a coffee for Β£11 including tip!! I frickin love this town πŸ™‚

It was a tough walk today but the company of good friends made it easier. 23 miles of more grey roads and a couple of good beaches  a hard slog in high temperatures, but we made it: “Just around the next corner will be the Ocean” was a wish we all had, from half way in. Those corners just dragged on and on but we finally made it.

Found a town called Poo! It wasn’t shit πŸ™‚

Ended up in a  nice town too. Great old Hotel that I am staying in. €48 including breakie.

The weather is turning again tomorrow, I have 4 days of rain to look forward to. But, I could stay here! I have time in my schedule and there are things to see. I’ll see what kind of weather I wake up to. 

I’m beginning to appreciate this year that it is more about the experience than the goal. The goal has changed. It’s not a goal of achieving a massive hike to the next town. It’s about enjoying some of it, don’t just survive it, and with other good like-minded people. People who I would never have met before have instantly become good friends. This is the beauty of randomness. The beauty of good karma.

Today I needed help to find a place to stay and there is always a local on hand who will stop and make sure you do not feel all alone is a strange town. A random guy stopped me, mid-20’s and walking a push chair containing his young child. He gave great advice, even called friends over, and made sure I knew where to go. So much good advice and I would not have survived without it.  Random strangers are the good in this World. I love it. Every day someone has helped me. It renews some faith that this World is not at all bad.

 Zen lecture over!  Here are some pics πŸ™‚

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Day 9 – Roll the dice…

Unquera to Llanes: 20.74 miles

Truth be told, the last couple of days have really dragged because a lot of the walking was road walking. Sometimes it feels so boring and grey. They were punctured by the occasional stroll past a beach, but it always saddened me to turn inland. Climb another 1,000ft hill, just to scramble down the other side on to another road.

On paper, today was another of those days. With the heat, I had started to question what the fuck I was doing here.

You think, with all the time alone, you have time to think! But you don’t.  You have to concentrate on surviving and just figure out what to do for the forthcoming miles. Go from stop to stop. Find a bed, collapse in to it, rinse and repeat.

Thus, it can get boring and each day rolls on to the other.

The moral of this story: Push through the shit, survive, don’t give up, and you get a reward!

Today was a big reward. 

About 2 miles in, hilly and hot, I descended down another old dirt track on to another roadway and, according to the book, had 3 miles of more poxy road to the next stop. However, someone had painted a yellow arrow diversion simply adding “Costa” next to it.

Hmm… Costa! Either a great coffee shop awaited? Or my limited Spanish told me, and it doesnt take a genius to figure it out, that this also means “Coast”.

Fuck it, I thought, let’s follow it. Screw the guide book. What’s the worst that could happen? Well I could get lost, be miles off a known track, trip, break an ankle, dehydrate and someone finds my dead rotten bloated corpse in 6 weeks time, depending on which one of you misses me enough to call for help πŸ™‚ But, yeah, what’s the worst that could happen!

Wow! Just WOW!

The next 4 miles were just breathtaking. The “Costa” led to a local footpath along the cliff edge. It was outstanding. Some of the pictures are below, but I must have taken 200 at least. I just kept stopping, and sitting, and staring, and listening to the beauty right in front on me. I thanked Neptune and his mates for creating such an amazing image. I had the biggest smile on my face the whole time. This was a massive high. This is the right time to think. This reminds you what it, and everything, is all about.

Eventually, sadly, this route came to an end and I had to get back on track and head in to town to find my stable for the night.

Bumped in to Janet & Steve again, we had a brief encounter a few days ago. Got talking to them and decided on dinner together. A couple of kind, cool, chilled out, Americans. All in all a great day was had.

That sums up the Camino. Some days are shit. It’s just bloody hard work. You have no idea why you are there. But the good days more than make up for the bad.

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Day 8 – By air, land and sea…

Comillas to Unquera: 19.44 miles

Today had a bit of everything. Long romantic strolls on the beach to see the sunrise, a great view of the Pico’s mountain range, fresh clean air at 1,400ft, grande cafe con leche for breakfast on a different beach, and lots of sea views.

A long slog through the day though. 20 miles with the Sun showing its face again and the heat was back on. Everything is now starting to hurt but fortunately you can fight through it during the day. Stopping is the worst thing. Everything starts to seize up. Beer, as usual, is a great coolant and muscle lubricant.

This will probably be the last Camino I do, which is a shame. It’s quite clear this year that it has become popular. I see more perigrenos every day than I saw in the whole trip last year. It’s too popular now. I pass through towns that appear to have thrown away their traditions to become part of the commercial camino. Time to find a new adventure.

2km short of target today but found a nice place to stay and wanted to take advantage of it, and the heat was draining the life out of me with every step over 15 miles. 

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Day 7 – Back to the Ocean

​Santillana del Mar to Comillas: 17.97 miles

Day 7 done. Got a place right on the beach tonight, can hear the waves crashing on the beach outside πŸ™‚ Expensive but worth it. I missed the coast yesterday so this makes up for it.

This side of the Camino is definitely more expensive than last year. Also a lot more people here, mostly Krauts and Yanks πŸ™‚ There appears to be a lot of new companies set up to provide all inclusive Camino packages. Not only do I think this takes the fun and adventure away from the whole thing but it appears to have led to some commercialisation, and therefore a rise in prices 😦

Nice walking today. Dry and reasonably cool, about 23Β° mostly over cast so no new sunburn πŸ™‚

Got lost a couple of times today but that’s no bad thing,  I found a local trail that gave me a better view of the coast.

Here’s a quick summary of the week so far:-

Distance travelled: 116 miles

Ascents/Descents: 11,000ft total

Calories burnt: 21,544

Beers consumed: 18

Coffee’s consumed: 43

Good folks met: 12

Weird folks met: 3

Views appreciated: Hundreds

Blisters: 10

Sunburn level: Sore 

Girls kissed: Classified

This is the town where I stayed yesterday:-

And here’s the town where I’m staying tonight:-

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Day 6 – Planes, trains and walking boots…

Santander to Santillana del Mar: 15.39 miles

Being woken at 4am to the sound of torrential rain is not music to a hikers ears. You just know it’s going to be a rough day. So,the weather forecast was right. Although the temperature drop to 16Β° was quite a relief.

Thankfully walking in the UK does tend to harden you to this rainy prospect. Hitting the pavement at 8am; it’s just head down, grit teeth and push on. Then I slipped on the greasy pavement and literally hit it, nearly breaking a leg as they went in opposite directions, also jarring my back. Yeay! It was going to be one of those days πŸ™‚

A little respite was having to jump on a train to get through a wonderfully named little town called “Boo”. The official route once required you to get a ferry from Boo to Mogro.  This ferry was stopped when train operators built a bridge. However, they neglected to add a pedestrian walkway to the bridge. So you have 2 options: The trains run every half an hour or so. If you are quick, and they are on schedule,  you are supposed to run the gauntlet along the railway track and hope you beat the train! Or, safer option 2 is just get a train to Mogro, effectively making this a toll bridge. It was €2 so no big deal. I was tempted to run the track, with a 12kg backpack on, it looked easy enough, but apparently the local police have started to arrest non-locals if they see you. That would probably mean an on the spot fine of their choice,  or an argument with a baton and getting friendly with a pair of rubber gloves. €2 seemed worth it.

Not only did the rain make the day difficult,  it was also a completely non- spectacular day. The route is inland and therefore not a beach to be seen. If this was a proper holiday I would be asking for a refund to cover today. 16 miles of boring grey roads. Ah well, ya can’t win em all. 

Got a few pics of central Santander and the place I stayed in was really quite lovely. It felt like how I imagined a Parisienne 19th Century brothel, complete with the more modern neon flashing tattoo and sex shop signs right outside the window. Along with some other old surviving buildings it was quite a nice City.

The place I am staying in tonight is basically Canterbury.  I’ll get some pics for tomorrow.

This was Santander, starting at my brothel πŸ™‚

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Day 5 – New friends

Guemes to Santander: 13.25 miles 

Day 5 started with a view of a beautiful sunrise straight out the window, always a nice greeting first thing in the morning. 

Day 5 finished. Some great walking today and met some good people. Walked all the way with Pam & Jim from North Carolina, shared some good stories and the time flew by.

Staying in a nice little apartment tonight which looks like it has been dropped straight out of a 19th Century Parisienne street. Beautiful place. Will try to get a pic later. Right outside the door is a sex shop and a tattoo parlour – very Parisenne indeed πŸ™‚

The previous Wars with the French in this area have left a positive mark in one way!

The weather this side of the water is much cooler, might even rain tomorrow! 

Still not found suncream but might not need it now πŸ™‚

Night night x​

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Day 4 – Β A point of no return

Laredo to Guemes: 18.44 miles

For most travellers on the Camino, Day 4 is a really important day. It is often the day where a lot of people give up. They have tried, but realise they have possibly bitten off more than they can chew, and they turn back. No shame in trying and better live to try another day.

But generally by day 4 the anxiety has warn off, you’ve got your senses and wits up to speed and your fitness has reached a point where it knows your limit of survival. If you go on, it all just gets better.

So, I’m still here then πŸ™‚

Blisters are becoming annoying but the sunburn is probably the most painful issue.  It is right here, now, that I admit in public to being a bit of a dick: The one thing  I did not pack is any form of suncream! Although, strangely enough, I packed some aftersun. So I’m not entirely stupid πŸ™‚

Middle of day 4 and this was the start of my road today. β€‹

Then offroad through the farms.

My distinct memory of Camino 2015, on the other side of the Norte, was that the whole place basically stinks of cow shit, it’s 1000 sq miles of cattle farming.

This side of the Norte is much sweeter. It’s mostly fruit farms. Every field has fermenting apples, pears or peaches. This is heaven, 500 sq miles of cider country. Makes me bloody thirsty though. My warm flat fanta isn’t that nice by comparison.
Day 4 done and another 18 miles on the clock. Short walk tomorrow, about 13 miles and then a nice ferry ride across to Santander.  

I wonder if I can get a better rate on my mortgage while I’m there πŸ™‚

Still on schedule  

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Day 3 – In to the valleys

​Castro-Urdiales to Laredo: 19.2 miles

Day 3 done and another beautiful beach rolls by. This place reminded me of Camber Sands, so flat and beautiful. 

After this it all got very difficult.  Climbing up through the Pico’s. Several hundred feet up and down for several miles through winding valleys.  Still pretty damn hot. 20 miles in total but it felt like 30 with the climbs.
Staying in another cheap hotel tonight, but this one is more expensive than last nights and doesn’t even have en-suite, just a sink in the corner. Well if I can’t be bothered to walk down the corridor in the middle of the night then that sink is becoming multifunctional πŸ™‚

That’s the breaks you get on this trip. Some hotels are awesome and some are nothing more than prison cells with the advantage of having your own key.

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Day 2 – Every step is a photograph

​Pobena to Castro-Urdiales: 10.25 miles

Sounds like the name of a Coldplay song, but it is the perfect comment for today’s walk.

​The reason I chose this route is that, for most part, it hugs the coastline. The views today were amazing and if the next 200 miles are anywhere near this good then I will die happy.
If it is possible to pick a downside to this beautiful natural landscape, it is that I need to stop every 2 minutes… because every step is a photograph πŸ™‚

Sadly I cannot share much of the view with you due to the death of my SD card, but hopefully there is more to come.

Only 10 miles today and it feels like a cheat, but it is supposed to help because tomorrow’s walk will be twice that at least.

Besides, I’ve decided already to take it nice and easy on this walk. The heat is a killer, literally. So I might not do the whole route, but its not about the mileage, its irrelevant, it’s all about surviving the grand experience.

No French lesbians for me tonight (bet you never thought you would ever hear me say that!) I’ve decided a nice cheap hotel with a good shower and soft bed is the way forward. Β£20 for the night and only my snoring and farting to suffer.

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Day 1 – Happy trails…

Bibao to Pobena: 22 miles

Stepping off a flight to a foreign land can be very disorientating. Especially when you have no one to meet you, no bus taking you to a posh hotel and not a great grasp of the language. But that’s all part of the adventure. Even the little things like traffic travelling the wrong way takes a bit of getting used to, fortunately a couple of near misses later and my (nearly squished) brain got that sorted out.

I knew that Day 1 wasn’t going to be the prettiest of days. Bilbao is a port and my first trek from the airport took me through the old industrial docklands. 

Day 1 was supposed to be 15 miles, but last year’s trip taught me that google maps often lies. 22 miles later, in 30 Β° heat, and I finally found the hostel I was looking for. 

I struggled to stay in many hostels last year, they really aren’t for everyone. Even though they cost as little as Β£3 a night. My particular bed for the night was in the female dorm (only one left due to my late arrival) 

This may, hopefully, be the only point in my life where I spend a night sleeping with a group of what seemed to mostly consist of French lesbians (unconfirmed) who could snore and fart in their sleep better than any guy I know.

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Camino 2015 – All the pics

**WARNING** Contents contain selfies and naked feet πŸ™‚

Whilst updating this blog, and planning my 2016 trip, I took to looking back through the photographs of the 2015 tour and realised that I have a lot lot more than were actually published here.

The complete camera roll has now been uploaded to my OneDrive and can be foundΒ at the link below.

The management take no responsibility for the psychological actions/reactions caused by this content Β πŸ™‚

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=218147AC42F8627!8122&authkey=!ANXTkoSzdlMzpDg&ithint=folder%2cJPG

 

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Camino 2016… on The Way again :)

Okay, so… I’ve decided I need to do the Camino again this year. They say it becomes a bug. Well, I think I’ve caught it Β πŸ™‚

For those that didn’t know, let me give you a reason… as if I really needed one, or perhaps just a little background to why I’m here again.

My Camino in 2015 was, without doubt, the greatest thing I have done in life. The challenges before were well documented at the start of this blog. The challenges after… may be new to some of you.

During my Camino in 2015 I had a bit of bad news that my cat, Floyd, had died. Okay it’s just a cat some say, but I am an animal lover and it was my 1st real pet, albeit at home with my Parents. He was a wonderful, beautiful, amazing creature and I miss him dearly.

But that’s not the bad part, and this now pales in comparison to any other pain IΒ have had in life. During that same phone call to home which gave me a bit of bad news, my Mum mentioned that my Dad had a hospital appointment in a few days, due to some back pain he had been suffering with for a while. Although previous tests had discounted any form of Cancer, the Doctors wanted a second opinion. I didn’t give it much more thought and plodded on through Spain, to the end of my Camino.

2 days after returning, my dad was rushed in to hospital. Nothing super serious, he had a small blood clot in his leg that caused him to collapse in pain. This was the 21st September, I think.

Unfortunately he never left the hospital. Just over 5 weeks later, on the 29th October 2015 at 9.30am, he passed away. Just like that. It wasn’t the blood clot, it was Cancer. A rare form of Urethra Cancer, which was immediately diagnosed as untreatable. We did get 4 weeks of little hope which eventually ended in us telling him how much we loved him and saying our goodbyes. We buried him on the 17th November. Life since then, as you can imagine, has been difficult for all of the surviving Family.

My 2015 Camino changed me, so much for the better, but it was all very much overshadowed by the subsequent events.

So here I am to do it again. To feel the same amazing sense of achievement and to feel that change in me once more.

The flights are booked…

The route is rough… but planned

270 miles in 15/16 days… compared to last years 220 miles in 13 days, this is pushing to the limit.

Strangely enough I feel more apprehensive this time, a little anxious, almost scared. This is because I know what is coming. I know the difficulties with the language, the difficulties with getting lost, the difficulties of finding a place to stay, the difficulties of talking to random people for more than 30 seconds. Knowing what is coming is so much more difficult than not knowing. I would prefer to be as naive as I was in 2015.

The route is all coastal. Starting way before my last trip and ending slightly in to it. I don’t need to see Santiago de Compostela again, it didn’t really impress me the 1st time. Yes the architecture was amazing but the crowds, the begging, the rain… oh my Gods the rain! Plus at least this way I can say I have done more of the complete route.

Here we go…

Bilbao to Ribadeo Camino2016

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Camino 2015 – Day 14 – and relax…

amino

So, time out today to rest. Even though it looks like I’ve still walked about 6 miles around the City.
The old town of SdeC is lovely, a proper medieval place.
The main City bolted on to the outskirts is your usual run of the mill affair. I could be anywhere Β and to prove that I just had a Burger King for lunch πŸ™‚
Just wanna go home now to be honest,Β  hustle ‘n bustle kinda bores me. I’d rather be stuck back in the middle of nowhere with people who are polite, chatty and you at least get a nod of acceptance.
Anyway,Β  the Sun showed up today and here’s some pics of the place.

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Camino 2015 – Day 13… the end :)

220 miles
350 km
And I’ve made it πŸ™‚
It was the worst day for weather.
4 hours solid mental rain.
Wet feet.
Wet everything.
Now to rest.
The tour isn’t finished though.
I have one more thing to do tomorrow before coming home on Thursday.
Sorry for the crappy picture.Β  Camera looks to be water damaged.
Half of the cathedral is under tarp but you get the gist πŸ™‚

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Camino 2015 – Day 12 be done – The end is nigh..

So this is it, the eve of arrival.
12.5 miles done today and it was a massive culture shock. Because 3 camino routes join in Arzua, there are literally hundreds of new faces on the way. To be honest, I dont like it. The solitude of my route was perfect.Β  The hustle of this final stage is just… “noisy”.
But it’s only for a short while.
It tried to rain again, and solid rain forecast for the next 2 days. But it wasnt as bad as yesterday. Got a little bit moist and not in a good way. Speaking of which, I am about 15 miles from SdeC and the begging has begun. There are people on the way asking for money, pleading poverty,Β  and from what I could gather one particular woman offered to find me a bed for the night and keep me warm if necessary.Β  But she wasnt much of a looker πŸ™‚
Such is the way of these things. Every focal town/city has its dark side.
1 more sleep,Β  1 more bunch of steps to go πŸ™‚ x

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Day 11 done! Almost home but not very dry…

Another 15 miles on the clock.
Well the Galacia weather gave me a wonderful greeting this morning: Torrential and horizontal rain the minute I set foot on the way.
2 solid hours of pissing hard rain and howling wind, absolutely enough to soak me to the bone. It was a proper “grit teeth and fight on” moment.
The merrell boots did a brilliant job, my feet stayed bone dry despite wearing shorts. Even my eccentric socks seemed oblivious to the downpour, probably the smell is capable of repelling gravity!
My waterproof McLaren jacket tho… not very waterproof and was beyond rubbish (seems that team cant do anything right!)

So after 2 hours the tap gets turned off and the hairdryer comes on… a nice warming breeze with a bit of Sun. Within an hour I am dry again amd you wouldn’t think anything had happened.Β  Onwards and downwards towards today’s destination of Arzua.
However, 3 clicks from town and the weather Gods have the last laugh, another downpour just to make sure you do not reach your bed nice and dry
Arzua is where 3 routes of the Camino combine and things suddenly get busy.
But I arrived early and have found a place to stay.

I could yomp the last 26 miles tomorrow in one day and arrive at Santiago,Β  but it would be shattering and late. My feet are also a bit of a mess. All the little tricks and tips that people tell you, before and during the trip, they work for a while but after 11 solid days of punishment then the pain is real. But it is survivable, still got all my toes πŸ™‚
I’m going to split the day as I have enough time. So I will stop half way and then roll in to Santiago on Tuesday the 15th, a day ahead of schedule.
The good bit about rain is that it stops you getting a face full of these critters πŸ™‚

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Day 10 be done

Very misty today, didnt really see much all day.
18 miles done and this is my hotel for the night πŸ™‚
A 10th Century living monastery, albeit rebuilt several times due to war and changes in religion (same thing?)
I may have found my vocation, but only if the vow ofΒ  chastity is optional πŸ˜€

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Day 9 – let’s do the time warp again…

Pushed on a bit further today and now have some more breathing space in the schedule.
23 miles covered in just over 7 hours.
A few climbs but mostly flat through woodland.
Haven’t really been taking many pictures because it’s all pretty much the same scenary on this stage: Fields, cows and treas.
However you do stumble through some lovely old villages who honestly have yet to meet the 21st century,Β  and I’m sure they are better off for it.
Lots of medieval bridges and chapels, 6-700 years old. Whilst I don’t claim to care/understand/appreciate what the church is all about,Β  I do like a bit of ancient architecture.Β 

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Day 8 – head in the clouds.

So that was a relatively easy day.
13 miles and pretty much flat. Still travelling across the mountain ridges, a few thousand feet above see level.
The morning began with what Galicia is famous for, as in England, they have a lot of rain. Its what keeps this green and pleasant land so fertile. So I got a bit wet but it doesn’t last long and the Sun eventually burns you dry.
A lot of trekking is through farmland,Β  in fact I’m beginning to think that the whole of Northern Spain stinks of cow shit. But you get used to it after a while.
184km travelled in 8 days (115 miles)
I hope to reach SdeC in 5 days, giving me a touristy rest day before travelling home.
I’ve caught man flu, because the weather is so changeable, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing me down yet.
The last walking day is big (25 miles) and I can chop it in half if I need to, but really would like that rest day. Hopefully adrenalin will pull me through.
122km to go (76 miles)

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Day 7 – No rest for the wicked :)

Woke up feeling much better than I did last night.  So the motivation to get up and get moving was there.  No rest day required,  once you start doing that then it can be easy to lose time.
Besides,  the pain is what I’m here for. Nobody said it was going to be easy πŸ™‚
Tough hill climbing again today but nothing spectacular.
38,000 steps and about 16 miles.
144 kilometres to go, according to this marker πŸ™‚

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