He Said, She Said: 5 Questions on el Camino de Santiago

By on May 8, 2019

As the school year winds to a close, we are getting very excited about our upcoming trek on the Camino de Santiago. As you probably already know, in 2017 we hiked the 550 mile Camino Frances from Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago and then on to Finisterre. This summer we will be repeating part of that trek, walking from Leon to Santiago but also walking the Camino Portuguese from Lisbon to Santiago and the Camino Fisterre, walking from Santiago to Muxia to Finisterre and back to Santiago for a total of 1,162 km (722 miles) over a two month period. Today we bring you “his” thoughts and “her” thoughts about our upcoming adventure as we answer the top five questions that we hear most often.

What are you most excited about?

Brian: Revisiting some of our favorite cities (such as Astorga and O’Cebreiro) along the Camino Frances is really exciting but I am most looking forward to being back in Santiago on Feast Day. Seeing the fiesta from a pilgrim’s perspective was a great experience and getting to participate again now that the exterior of the Cathedral is finished is going to be awesome.

The opening of the Festival at the Cathedral in Santiago

Michelle: I agree that seeing the Fiesta in Santiago again will be fantastic, especially since the Cathedral is complete on the outside so I hope the projections will be on the Cathedral this year. But, ultimately, I am most excited about walking every day with friends! Walking next to my best friend, meeting new friends, meeting up with an old friend in Portugal, and sharing this incredible moment in time with so many other pilgrims.

What are you most nervous about?

Brian: On the Camino Frances we were averaging about 13 miles a day with frequent stops every 5-8 km. In Portugal, the villages are further apart and our days will be significantly longer with an average of 16 miles a day. Add to that the fact that we are further south and the summer heat can be brutal, I think there is plenty to be nervous about!

Michelle: Yes, what he said! I am nervous about how early we will have to get up in the morning to beat the heat. Also, the last time we walked the Camino, we were so lucky with the rain. It only rained twice while we were walking the entire summer. I am hoping for cooler temperatures and the rain is tolerable. But, what I am most nervous about, and it’s something I haven’t shared with people who don’t see me in person. I injured my foot when we were in Gatlinburg in March. I have been walking with a boot because of two stress fractures on the top of my foot. The doctor said I will be healed by the end of May and can do light walking until we leave on June 10th. Unfortunately, I fear re-injury. However, we have accepted that we may need to taxi ahead and accommodate as needed. There is magic on the Camino and I am praying some healing magic comes my way. Brian is quite patient and we always have each others back in tough situations like this one. Safety is always goal number one.

Along the trail

What village are you most looking forward to?

Brian: Duh, Porto, the home of Port wine! We plan to do plenty of Port tasting while we are there. I’m also really excited about Tomar. While we are there, the Fiesta de los Tabuleiros will be happening. The Festival of Trays only takes place every four years and just happens to coincide with our layover. For me, one of the primary reasons for hiking the Camino is to experience the local culture and big festivals are a great way to meet locals.

Photo from Visitportugal.com

Michelle: Mmmmm port, tinto, cheese, pastries, festivals. Let me dream about all of that for a moment! I don’t have one particular village in mind but I am excited that the first and last legs of our trip will be a repeat of some of our favorite spots. I love Foncebadón because it’s this super tiny village that many pilgrims stay at in order to hike to Cruz de Ferro at sunrise. O Cebreiro is another tiny village that we couldn’t stay at last time because they didn’t have any rooms, I am looking forward to staying there this time. If the village is tiny, I am looking forward to it. The big cities overwhelm me because Brian wants to walk them! Haha

What are you doing differently this time?

Brian: My packing list is a little different this time. I’m taking less clothing and getting rid of some of the same extras that Michelle mentions below. I’ve decided to take a dice game (Farkle) for evenings in the albergue (but to save weight, I’ve created an online score sheet on Google Drive). I also have some new camera gear that you can read more about in the next question.

Michelle: I am taking a smaller pack going from 48 liters to 36 liters. I am not taking a sleeping liner or towel because we will be in private rooms and they are provided for you. The biggest thing I am doing differently, beyond the “stuff,” is a shift in attitude. I was overwhelmed last time. This is a big adventure, far from home, where nobody speaks your language (or so I thought). I didn’t know if we could do it. This time, I know we can. I am more open to the relationships that form on the Camino. I am open to whatever food we eat as a pilgrim. I am open to the entire experience, in a way that I was not before. What a blessing.

Pilgrim’s dinner at Orrison

What is the most essential piece of gear you are taking?

Brian: Because we are documenting this trip more actively on YouTube and our blog (we hope), my gear is probably the most essential equipment. I’ve found new trekking poles that can double as a monopod and I have a gimbal to help with better video quality. I’ll also be bringing a boom mic for voice-overs. All of the videos will be shot on a new iPhone X that I’ll be upgrading to in the coming weeks.

Michelle: I am adding extra shoe insoles because mine were quite beaten up last time. Finally, as of this moment and this could change, I am taking 3 pairs of shoes to help manage my foot problems. I am taking my Merrell Moab 2 hiking shoes and my New Balance 880 tennis shoes which I will switch between during the day, and then my Chacos for evenings and rest days. Again, we’ll see but I have to figure out how to manage my foot problems.

There you have it, another edition of He Said, She Said. We are just counting down the days, practicing our tinto arm, making sure we have all of our gear, purging as much as possible, and most importantly wrapping up the school year so when we return we will be ready to start another year. Do you still have a lingering question about the Camino? Leave a comment below! Your question may just show up in our next He Said, She Said blog post.

Outside the Templar castle in Ponferrada

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