The next adventure…

Ally and I are excited to start planning Way to Everestour next Chicks Walk for a Cause adventure!

We are hoping to raise money for another fantastic local cause and also challenge ourselves again physically and mentally…

So it looks like in 2015 we are walking up a mountain! Mt Everest that is!!

Look forward to bringing you more information in the months to come…

Your support and encouragement long the way made such a difference to our Camino so we can’t wait to hear, see and show your support for this next walk.

WOW – exciting times ahead! Who wants to come???

 

Reflections…

We Did It

We Did It

Last Day of Rain

Last Day of Rain

It’s been a few days since our walk into Santiago and its taken this long to gather thoughts and contemplate what we have done.

Our last day started not too early, packing quietly thinking this is it… And it was only 5km away so it was merely a stroll for us… Like any big city we have walked into we did not see the gravel, dust, mud, at or pebble road to follow but the paved path snaking thru the modern outskirts if Santiago to the old city. Comfort was felt as the golden shells lead the way.

We will never forget that first glimpse of the cathedral spire that came into view on one street. Butterflies came in my stomach, this is it!

Trekking closer to the old streets, the uncanny sound of a bagpipe echo’d in the tunnel that lead to the cathedral plaza – can it get any melodramatic!

Cathedral

Cathedral

WOW what a beautiful sight. The Santiago Cathedral was looming over the plaza. Bathed in the morning sun. Each pilgrim (including us) took there own moment to take in their feat. Whether you started in St Jean, Pamplona, Logroño, León, Ponferadda, or Sierra you finish here at Saint James home.

802km from where we started we stopped walking. Thru it all, sore feet, aching legs, blisters, band aids, tired shoulders, no beds, falls, getting lost, getting bitten, lack of sleep, no sleep, snoring, the SOL, rain, cold, never ending roads, too high hills, boots, socks and sandals, searching for wifi, searching for beds, 4am movements, 5am alarms, monks, nuns, curfews & bunk beds.. The doubt, the tears, the laughter, the friends and joys and fun we made it!

Yes we did.

Bags Bags

Bags Bags

From holy chickens, to the singing VonTrap family we have seen a lot and made some lasting memories. New friends and family are forever in our hearts and many countries to explore with plenty of free accommodation 😉

Thou we are not sure how the Camino has changed us – we are sure it has.

We spent a lot of time at the cathedral that morning watching pilgrims come in – taking photos with bags, without bags, bags above heads in triumph, bikes above heads too! Lots of cheering, laughter and tears all around.

What was even better was seeing familiar faces again! So good to see Emilie waving hello! Benz big smile high fives all round. Our American crew had arrived people we didn’t think we would see again we could – thanks Camino :)

Reach the City Outskirts

Reach the City Outskirts

Collecting our last stamp and certificate was the next step, and the line full of pilgrims slowly filtered thru the office, what is your name, where did you start, why did you walk? With a stamp and a pen we got our official paperwork – going to frame that baby when we’re home!

The pilgrims mass was at 12noon and that was another occasion to add to the never forget moments, early to church (yes it can be done) we were able to see St. James tomb and statute to touch – with gold, jewels and shells it was a proud moment. The swinging incense at the end of the service was very very awesome – you should see it.

Now came the celebrating!! One things pilgrims can do well :) Kilo of steak, peppers, vino and Troy, Alex, Patrick, Kristen, Benz, Jamie, Liz & Christina we had fun! And that was just lunch!

elebrating

Celebrating

Meeting back at the cathedral (the only logical place to meet) at 7 for round two we found Emilie, Victor & Victoria! Celebrating till the wee hours of the morning was fun and a fitting way to end.

The next day started with a trip to the Cathedral (just making sure it was still there…) had a very overpriced lunch with Jim, Alex, Ralph & Emanuel (good to see Ralph survived the night) hearing Jim’s stories of Finisterre, didn’t make us disappointed about not having the time to get there – as there is always the chance to get there one day….

Reflecting back over the past five and a half weeks I am so proud of what we have achieve. Yes I know those who read this are too, but I am so damn proud of Ally – such and honour to have had this journey with her. She tells me the same. Pilgrims for life.

Incense

Incense

We also want to say that although you are not physically on this journey with us, you have all been in our thoughts along the way (cheering us on) and we hope that these blogs have entertained you and given you comfort (families) that we are alive and well (most of the time) and also made you consider doing something amazing in your own life too… Do it – anything is possible.

To our Camino family that have joined us along the way, and that have helped made this journey AMAZING we hope to see you again in Holland, Germany, France, Italy, America, Hungry, Ireland, Poland, Austria, Latvia, Slovenia, Spain (again), England, Greece, , New Zealand & of course Australia and lets not forget Nepal soon!

So for last time we bid you
Buen Camino

Last Shell

Last Shell

Cathedral

The Cathedral

 

 

We are here!

After 802km of walking across Spain we have made it!

We-made-it

One More Sleep

Heading in the Right Direction
So it has been a few days since our last blog… A few milestones have been met… I’ve been contemplating what to write – lots of thoughts and conversations to be told.

50kmWe hit the 50km to go mark yesterday – it was met with excitement, sadness and anticipation :) we are so excited about making it to the finish but at the same time we don’t want it to end…

Who would’ve thought 752km ago that we would have made it?!!? We had our doubts, days and hills come to mind where we both thought what the hell are we doing?!!?

Michelle has mastered the art of taking her jumper off while still walking and keeping her backpack on – it is a true art :)

We managed to catch up with Benz our Hungarian friend for lunch and that was a great afternoon! Plus thru FB and messages we’re excited about seeing more familiar faces at the end – thou we have stopped travelling together we all seem to be arriving a day or 2 apart! Look out Santiago there will be some celebrating coming!!

Eric made it to Santiago! So proud of our little Camino brother.

We attempted an early early morning start with the aid of the torch – I’m glad it’s near the end so we don’t have to do the again too soon.

We went for a walk one night (you’re surprised I know) to catch up with some friends at a different Albergue – 1.5km up the road was a no brainier for us… That’s a big change as at home you’d jump in a car!! (How is my UP going??)

PulpoOver dinner of pulpo (the local delicacy – octopus) we discussed with Roman and Pope Benedict (that’s how he introduced himself: Benedict “like the pope”- so it stuck) we asked each other what has happens to us this far? Our top 3 monuments and moments couldn’t be reduced so they are now our top 5 :) plus how is this journey changing us? None of us really know, I guess we have to wait till we are home to see what it is…

The Disney Caminos have scattered the last few days, especially today, the heavens opened up and for 20odd kilometres we walked in the rain – not good weather for the Disney peeps I bet they just jumped in the bus for a ride to the next town… but that left us to the peace of the Camino – opening our thoughts and minds to wander.

After about 15 km Ally and I chatted for a bit, I asked her how her morning had been with the rain and all? Her reply was positive – being our last full day of walking and the last day before Santiago she saw the rain as a refreshing, cleansing sign getting us ready for the next day …

Bridge CrossingI on the other hand, was not so positive, I couldn’t believe Spain had turned on me… The previous night I had shared my beds with some bugs that had left me itchy, and scratchy, and wondering why me?? Then the rain came and I was thinking what else!! What else could happen??

It was great to get 2 different perspectives on the same situation :) I quickly embraced Ally’s theory, and changed my tune to get outta of my funk.

So finally after 30 odd days I got to use my poncho that I’ve been carrying around ya! Trudging thru mud, and little rivers that were forming on the up hill slopes made for yet another new trek to walk on… The scenery is different yet again and the excitement can be felt thru all peregrinos (Disney or authentic) about how close the end is :)

With 46km till Santiago we set off today with the mind set of achieving 30km day giving us a quick trek in the morning to our destination… After a coffee stop to dry off and get another delicious chocolate croissant,  and a 25min wait to use the single loo for sooooo many people… We walked past our planed stop and just kept walking!

We said we would never do a 40km day.. But here on our last full day we did a mammoth 41km!!! Wow I betcha wondering why we stopped so close? That’s easy – we want to cherish and have our own moment when we reach Santiago – not a late arvo trudge with sweaty clothes, sore feet and tired eyes… So we have managed to find a bed in what I think is the biggest Albergue on the Camino with a whooping 500 beds! Just shy of 5 from the finish I wonder how well we will sleep tonight??

One more sleep

Buen Camino

Disney Camino

Early Start Before Sunrise
I want to tell you about a strange occurrence that has increased to an epidemic level over the past 2 days…

Disney Camino xThe Disney Camino – these peregrinos (or better known as turisimos – tourist peregrinos) you can spot them on the trek the following ways:

  • they travel in packs of 5 or more
  • they have day packs on – NOT BACKPACKS. You know those string backpacks you get that only hold 3 things
  • they have no Camino tan (white legs all round!)
  • they stop after 4km and have a beer.. Now some of you might think there is nothing wrong with that, but when you are walking 25+km for the day there is a big problem.
  • they wheel their bags in to the Albergue that their tour guide just booked out (so no beds for us!!)
  • they put make up on in the bathroom in the morning….
  • there is a mega bus waiting for them after 12km to drive them the rest of the way if they are too tired to walk…

Can you feel the distain in my fingers as I type this???? Hmmmmmmmm

The Trek TodayJim the Pom said it a few days ago “it doesn’t feel the same” and we were wondering what he meant. We now know. The high of reaching only 100km to go is quickly squashed by the increase in traffic on the Camino..
Now I don’t want to sound like a Camino snob but – you gotta start further back and get the true experience than just the last 100km….

We would stop at for our morning break and see familiar faces or catch up with our Camino family again.. But alas, now we don’t :( we have scattered across the trek with different dates and needs to make it to Santiago…

We are only 3 days away, doing 22 – 25km a day now trying to stretch out our Camino as long as we can before our flight deadline… Eric left us this morning with a 42km day ahead as he needs to finish before us to make it to his Madrid holiday to follow… It was strange to wake up without our pace car. His gorgeous smile and random comments and thoughts to keep us laughing or contemplating along the way. (we miss you Eric!)

More of The Trek TodaySpending 3/4 of the day on the road has not helped – and the feet & ankles are wishing for the nature trek again. (No its not the knees – I’m wearing braces as a prevention as it’s better than a cure!)

But the rise and fall of the trek is calming and with each village we pass and the familiar sight of the yellow arrow pointing the way brings thoughts of what is waiting for us in Santiago de Compestella…

Out Stop Last NightUntil then it’s messages and FB with our Camino family to see who is at the same stop?? Dinner last night with Ruth Tina and Dr Marco (Marco as risen to Doctor status after his diagnosis of my rash and supply of pills to stop the itching!!! Thank god for Dr Marco!) and of course our little brother Eric was a fabulous memory made, sharing stories and paying way too much for a gin and tonic, enjoying the view and
laughing at our adventures thur far are just priceless.

We’ve stopped in Palas de Rei for the night -the Albergues have been booked out by bloody Disney Camios so we have found a hostel with a room for 3 – we’ve also found cold beer and wifi so now the hunt is on for good food :)

Until tomorrow
Buen Camino

100kms to go!

100kms to go!

Concert in the Square

Church in a Village

Bloody Disney Camino

Bloody Disney Camino!

A girl needs new shoes…

Walking Art Gallery
Kelly PastaToday starts early with the benefit of everyone in our room wanting to get up at the same time… We are heading to Barbadelo – our guide says to stop in Sierra but the Dutch guide says 5km after that so today we are following the Dutchman (boy).

With a banana to fuel us till our coffee stop 9km down the road we hit our first decision 1km in – left or right??? Right it is (it’s 5km shorter…) and that also means up up again. The over hanging trees and the lush green fields around us make you think how the Meesta seems so long ago… The trek thou stony and rough is not dreadful and the path snakes up the mountain till its time to snake down again – The crew from Mansilla have caught us and we chat about what the Camino has done to us…

Water FountainBlisters, snore knees (no, not mine – touch wood) shin splints, mine games, sun bur
n, lost weight (again not us) friends, family, happiness and disappointment – it is strange that everyone doing the same thing has such different views – but that is humanity isn’t it…

Sierra came quickly and a quick shop left me feeling very happy with my new non walking sandals :) the planks i got 2 days ago now belong to the camino. My boots a heavy burden were ‘forgotten’ a few days ago.. We have somehow managed to overtake Fran which doesn’t seem right as the man is a jack rabbit on this trek!

And we have landed on our feet again with the Albergue in Barbadelo :) we are sitting on lounge chairs with an amazing view of the Galicia country stretched out before us sun shining cool breeze cold beer (literally as i just typed that Ally announces that she might do dry September when she is back… Too funny) and Eric is on a date – not a hiking one (I’m coming back in my next life as Eric) dinner is the hardest decision we have to make at the moment :)

I’ll let you know how we go…
Until then
Buen Camino

Trek Today

Our Stop

Sierra

Its’ Hot then it’s Cold

Enjoying-the-view
I’m laying in a hotel room. There is only 2 beds, and our own private bathroom – oh and towels :) towels can you believe it!!!!

We have trekked to the highest point on the Camino they were right when they say strenuous day.. But spectacular views! We actually care about that part now we have a bed for the night (wait not bed – but room!) we hiked into O Cebreiro and were met with the dreadful call at the Albergue Completo (full!) As were all the hostels… I proceeded to walk into each place seeing if they can fit just one person… Eric ran down to another hostel to see their verdict, Ally has phoned ahead to see if the next town can fit us (no – Completo) then she asked at the pub – in broken English she heard double room €40… So when in Spain with no bed, no town centre & no tent – splurge! €20 ea got us a room, bed, private bathroom WITH towels and no snoring :)

The SOL shone on our walk today with most of it being flat until the last 10km where it goes from up up up.

FriendsEric does what it does best and picks up the pace and forges ahead with his  disappearing stick (it’s getting shorter and shorter with each tap – but the connection has been made, I don’t think he can give it up… Unless there is a really short person he can pass it on too) Michelle got a taste of what we had 20 odd days ago in the Navarra country… And Ally and I thanked Ranier again for telling us to get sticks :)

We thought of stopping at La Faba (but I couldn’t find the Albergue) plus the steep ascent wasn’t too bad… So we move on to Laguna another 3km where the ascent got worse and the Albergue full… So no choice but to head to O Cebreiro – and we know that it had a happy ending :)

With 2 of the 3 after walk necessities met (sorry Eric no wifi) we check out the church & mass was happening so we didn’t stick around. Saw the monument for the man that every pilgrim loves Don Elias Valiña Sampedro – he is the one that came up with the yellow arrows along the route – if they weren’t on the trek I think there would be still pilgrims trying to find their way out here from 50yrs ago… (Thanks Don) and then there was the view – beautiful xxx

MistySo another day comes and we are now starting to wish they would slow down (sorry gang loving it over here and we are not wanting it to end) morning can hardly be seen with the mist that blankets the mountain peaks, positive people would say its a fresh morning – I’m realistic I’m saying its cold! And here is Eric walking in a singlet – don’t worry he said once we start ill warm up…

Once we start the wind follows us across the trek whistling in our ears and howling thru the fields – it’s strong and you start to wonder if anyone has been blown off the mountain before??? As light appears the view is beautiful again our photos cannot do it justice :) it’s funny that you take one pic walk around a corner and the view is better so you take another… We will bore you all with them when we are back.

A looming grey statue appears thru the mist this morning a pilgrims monument… Ally and I take it in – another moment in this epic adventure.

ViewAfter about 10km we start to go down… Something we have all been anxious about because we knew it was coming. Talk about anti climax, yes it was steep and went for 7km but we must be getting hard because I thought it was going to be worse (flashes of Roncesvalles come to mind). You wanted to get down quick as in the rural area the spell was not the type you wanted to keep around…

We made it to our stop in Triacastela (the town of 3 castles – none of which we have seen yet??) necessities have been met and the supermarket for supplies needs to be found :)

Another day awaits with yet another hill to climb over and more of this gorgeous country to be seen…

Until then
Buen Camino

Where are my ear plugs?

Kelly & Ally

We are spreading the word of Chicks Walk for a Cause :)
Last night after another fabulous dinner cooked by Kelly (no dishes for me!) and shared with our new Italian and German friends we sat around talking about the reasons we are walking, our FB likes jumped a few more with Ruth getting on to check us out (thanks Ruth Tina & Marco)

VillafrancaYou soon loose time when you are making new friends, and we got rushed off to bed when curfew had arrived – looking forward to a good nights sleep in a room with just 4 beds (OMG the luxury) our room mate proceeded to tell us in sign language and sound effects (she was Spanish and knew no English) that she seemed to snore… And she offered us ear plugs… Not a good sign…

For the last 24 days I’ve been completely jealous of Ally and her amazing ability to sleep solidly every night – until now. Not happy Jan. Even worse as I sit here after walking 25km today in the hot hot SOL the same lady has turned up here!!! Eric scouted the place and we have strategically hid our selves on a corner probably the furtherest corner away from the Snorer! Vino a necessity tonight to help us sleep…

So as I said today saw us walk 25km heading to Villafranca del Belizo with temperatures reaching 35+ we are pretty excited we made it without collapsing…

CastleWe must have been delirious as we sung Mary Poppins in English, Spanish & Dutch… The scenery has turned into vineyards again and the relief of shade is spotted along the way (thank god) the breeze is hot – but it’s a breeze so lets be thankful for that.

The after walk necessities can be found in Villafranca, cold beer, good food and wifi (Eric is happy) made new German friends and Sebastian from France who we have seen along the way joined us for a long over due catch up over pizza and sangria and a lot of laughs.

We opened the guide for tomorrow’s trek and one sentence reads:
“This stage represents one of the steepest of the whole pilgrimage…”
So of course we are so excited about that! Early start because its gonna get hot again and 30+ km’s up a mountain us going to take awhile.. Wish us luck!

Ponferrada

It just gets better – or worse..

photo (23)
All you need at the end of the day is big beer, good food, and wifi :) that’s what Eric has just proclaimed and all of us laugh and agree.

Eric has just appeared in Froncebedon!! (I have seriously spelt that wrong – I haven’t the guide book with me) He has walked a mammoth 57km in one day to catch up with us!!! Well maybe not just us, I’m pretty sure Fran had something to do with that…

photo (24)So we’ve had a mammoth time walking over 52km in the last two days we’ve initiated Michelle into the Camino way all at once! She is coping well :)

Last night we spent in Froncebedon (again spelt wrong) in this Albergue that provide a communal meal – too tired for anything, we joined the group for a delicious paella!! OMG the best we have had! The photos do not do it justice – so good. We’ve decided we won’t loose wait on this trip we are enjoying to food and vino too much :)

With Eric surprise walk in to the Albergue (he said he was just listening out for 2 loud Aussies in each place he stopped – umm so not us) and an amazing meal, we settled in to listen to our host set up and play fantastic local music as the night came in.. Such a great night (although Eric wouldn’t agree – being so late there were no beds.. He was stuck in a tent next to a donkey…)

photo (25)Morning came at 6am with our start to the Iron Cross – we were both very anxious about this part, as our expectations had been set – as this would be one of our highlights of our adventure. It came into view as the sun rose, a moment that neither of us well forget. I left a bit of myself at that place – and a bit of my family. Ally took a moment with both her professional and personal family. It takes a lot to bring Ally to tears…

It’s strange to watch other pilgrims react to this monument – some so unaware of its significance, others taking a quiet moment to search for the perfect spot for their stone… A very natural emotional environment for this journey.

If you get the chance to do this – I say do it. And look out for pink, blue & orange pebbles clumped together at the base. Then you’ll know i’ve been there too.

photo (28)Our Italian friend Marco warned us on the hard trek down we’d face today and how bad it was (his words were The Worst!) – Marco was right. After making it up up up to the highest peak of the Camino at (1550m) the sharp declined slowed us down sooo much :( very little conversations happened as we had to concentrate on what we were doing!

The false sense of hope you get when the path flattens out is quickly gone when another steep decent appears full of sleek rocks and pebbles and gravel to overcome – If I haven’t said it before I love my stick – it gets me out of some hard times (especially today)

We have headed into Pomferdom (again don’t trust my spelling) with the Knights of the Templar Castle to explore…

Tomorrow sees us doing over 30km again in heat that will be 30+… But let’s not dwell on that now, we are just sitting here enjoying our big beer, good food & wifi :)

We will keep you posted!!
Buen Camino

photo (29)

Pondering…

Raining-Top-Image
The thing with being in a different country with a language barrier, is when you see something amazing or some funny sites with descriptions on a sign beside them, you can not read to know what it is – you are only left with your imagination to think what or why that is there or happening… This can be useful at times especially as my interpretation of church or museum history is so much better than the audio tour – just ask Ally :)

RainingThis also happened in Astorga, a large town in its last days of a medieval festival! Sounds exciting I know :) We were! But when you walked thru the tents and site with nothing happening except people standing around in traditional medieval attire doing nothing… you start to wonder what exactly is going on?? And I guess we will never know :( even after the excitement of seeing our Spanish friend Fran again and with his little to no knowledge of the English language he couldn’t understand or explain it to us either…

It rained also (thank god once we had stopped for the day) but the coats came out because with it came the cold wind… We are entering the mountains again, new tracks for our feet (which continue to argue with their punishment some times during each day – but it’s getting less and less so they are obviously getting used to it) I’ve joined Ally with sandals on today and my feet went well :) this maybe a boring part of our story for you, but to us we can have a good hour conversation about them! Even spending time inspecting closely to see what has changed fearing for blisters… Priorities change on the Camino and our top 3 each day are:

    • Water
    • Feet
    • Sunscreen
    • & another is – Ice Cream – God help us if our stop for the night doesn’t have ice cream (or vino)

So as the terrain starts to change again, trees appear, mountains appear in the distance (great that means we have to climb them) and our attitude changes also. Reaching the half way point of our journey (not in distance but in time) we’ve both begun to saviour every moment as it is all coming to an end too soon :( let’s not dwell on that – we have Santiago to get too!!!

Farewell to FriendsSaying that, it seems possible now – there have been times over the past few weeks where we have doubted if it could be done – we were told right about the physical pain you feel, the metal games that go on in your head, it’s all true but each day you get up strap on your bag and go because it is what you want to do – need to do.

Looking forward to the next few days :) More milestones to achieve:

      • The Iron Cross is coming up where we leave our thoughts, hopes and stones we’ve been carrying with us since the beginning.
      • Castles to visit with a grand history of the Knights of the Templar
      • Crossing into the Galicia region of which the capital is Santiago de Compostela!

We will keep you posted

Buen Camino!