Writing on the Camino

I might regret this* …or be so glad I did it … but today I bought a notebook and pen for the Camino.

I’m a great fan of the Moomin, and Moomi Papa’s sentiment here seems to suit my forthcoming adventures really well!

I have been thinking for a while now that I’d like to keep some kind of journal (in addition to the blog) recording my days on the Camino

CONDITIONS: weather, terrain

EXPERIENCES: people I meet, stories I hear, tales from alberges, pilgrim menus etc

REFLECTIONS : how I’m feeling, what I’m dreaming of, plans for next day etc

I’m sure there will be times I feel too tired to write, but I’d like to make it a spiritual discipline to reflect on each day albeit in a simple way.

Imagine if my future grandchildren or great grandchildren came across these scribblings in decades to come!

*Because it’s another thing to carry around on my back for weeks!

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Dos Peregrinas in Finland

My beautiful friend, who has walked the Camino Frances and part of the Portuguese Way (from Porto to Santiago de Compostela) as well as parts of the Camino network in Germany and Switzerland – so definitely a pro! – suggested we have a Camino day together here in this part of Finland – and we did, though not dressed in our Sunday best!

Those of you who’ve been following this blog may recognise this sign!

I noticed it (and even posted a picture here) on an earlier Camino preparatory walk, but hadn’t made the connection between Jaakontie and St James’ Way! Duh!

We didn’t have a map -only downloaded instructions (which occasionally were inaccurate and sometimes didn’t quite pan out) and the route (perhaps for tenuous historical reasons) was at times frankly bizarre … but oh what a pilgrimage.

We started at Turku cathedral next to the archbishop’s palace; our half way stop was the lovely medieval church in Raisio (which I’d never been in before) and we finished at the old church in Naantali.

The highlight for me was probably st Martins Church in Raisio, it was locked but we found a church worker to let us in (and use their facilities) and the church organist just happened to be practising when we were there so we had impromptu music to accompany our short exploration there.

Another highlight was an unexpected stint of the way going alongside this lovely small river. (At this point we thought we’d lost the trail as there was no mention of water .. but we knew we were walking in the right direction and lo and behold we did find another waymarker as we finally met the road!)

What was also lovely was that in each of the churches we found one to stamp my friend’s pilgrim passport. The stamp from the cathedral in Turku was really quite impressive.

We stopped in a cafe near to our final destination … and again could make use of the facilities there. I thought their logo was in keeping with our pilgrimage!

At this point we couldn’t (even with the help of google maps) find the street names’ mentioned but luckily I knew this part of the world well so we picked up a walk by the shore hubby and I love to do with the dogs … and within 30 minutes we found a waymarker on that trail and we had 1 final km until the church!

We took the bus home (3€) after wandering around lovely Nasntali, and when I checked my phone found that our men were waiting for us at home expecting us to buy the food for the barbecue … so we shopped en route and after showering we enjoyed a feast together.

Perhaps this was something close to making a communal meal back at an alberge!?

Jaakontie pilgrim’s way goes on to Rymättylä and we plan to do that another time!

My observation today were

1. it wasn’t that hard to walk that far. But my second toe on each foot (nail side) ached when I went to bed …so I need to figure a way to reduce the pressure on that.

2. I didn’t get very hungry during the way. (I ate a roll, two bananas and a handful of nuts and raisins). I was, however, really hungry by 7pm!

3. I probably should have drunk more. The coffee stop was very much needed and welcome

4. I was really tired but found it hard to fall asleep … and this morning was so tired I didn’t want to get up. I’ll have to overcome that next month :)

5. My friend was a great fellow pilgrim on the journey … and patiently answered all my questions, and we chatted a lot too. On the Camino I hope I could learn to talk a bit less ..

Some stats

Walked 28km Turku Raisio Naantali

Weather: lovely walking conditions

It started cool with drizzle, Soon dried up and the day ended hot and sunny!

Clothing: walking boots and trousers (later shorts) tshirt and rain jacket (quickly discarded)

Other: carried reasonable load (4-5kg) in my Camino rucksack (no rubbing) and used one walking pole as my knee has been a tad sore this week.

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Peregrina Preparatio 11

Helsinki

Sunny and warm (but not hot)

Shorts T shirt and cap: sandals!!

Distance 10km (mostly around Suomenlinna Island)

This wasn’t a pilgrimage or even a hike but it was a fun day out, and although we walked approx 10km it was mostly a leisurely amble around Suomenlinna island ..but as I was carrying a bulky backpack I’m claiming it anyway!

My backpack was bulging as I’d assumed it would be cold (Helsinki usually is) and so I had extra layers and a raincoat plus picnic and water!

Today I left my hiking boots (and trainers) at home and wore sandals!

these weren’t mine, but my friend’s!

A lot of the terrain was cobble stones, or gravel paths so the going wasn’t particularly easy, but I loved ambling around exploring! We were definitely off the normal tourist path for much of the time!

Our picnic was really quite luxurious: smoked salmon and rye bread, cold grilled chicken, boiled eggs (organic), hummus, tomatoes and salad stuff, and fresh peas and Finnish strawberries bought from the market on the harbour side! All we lacked was the champagne!

We sat with our backs to a ‘bunker’ and had spectacular views out into the Bay of Helsinki. I didn’t take many photos but I did think to take one of Helsinki water front and the huge cruise liners that travel between Helsinki and Stockholm as we motored back in!

It was a lovely day out, some really pleasant walking … and great company too.

Tomorrow I’m heading on a pilgrimage in Finland with my friend who has walked the Camino. Watch this space!

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This is getting exciting!

I just found out how to walk from San Sebastián airport across the border into France … to a place called Hendaye

It’s about 5 km or so and the estimated walking time is 75minutes

I catch a train from Hendaye station to Bayonne and then a connection to St Jean Pied de Port … sitting here wondering if it really can be this straightforward!

There are trains at 1322 (which I should make very comfortably if my plane is on time) and that would also give me plenty of time to ‘check in’ at the Albergue and get my pilgrim’s passport at St Jean and a pilgrim’s meal (menu) in the evening.

The alternative train is at 16: 54 which arrives at 19:36 and is later than I’d like, but which would still be fine!

Now I’m wondering if I should buy the ticket online (mobile option) or at the station when I get there …

(PS I’m posting all this so I can find it easily when I need it … but also because this pilgrimage is starting to become real …)

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Planning getting there

My flights have been booked for months!

I fly to Barcelona on Sunday 9th and will spend the first night in a lovely looking and new hostel within easy walking distance (4km) of the airport

On the Monday I take a very early morning flight to San Sebastián … and from there travel on to start the Camino.

What wasn’t yet sorted was how I’d get to Helsinki airport from home …and today I’ve booked that.

I’ll walk down to the university (takes 15 minutes) and from there catch the onnibus to Helsinki centre. From there I’ll take either a local bus or the commuter train! Easy peasy!

Next thing is to remind myself how to get from San Sebastián to St Jean pied de port. From memory that was a bit less straightforward.

I will prebook my first and second nights on the trail … the first because I don’t know what time I’ll arrive and the second because I want to have one night in the Pyrenees (before crossing back into Spain)

I love putting the final details on plans long in the making … this pilgrimage is really happening!

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More preparations and a new start …

It’s August already, and in this part of Finland the teachers have gone back to school already, and the pupils will follow them on Wednesday.

It’s a new start for them, and I feel a new start for me too!

My own holiday travels abroad are behind me, but there’s still the first week of September (hiking with hubby) to look forward to before I skip off to start my Camino. The clock is ticking, and if the countdown hasn’t quite begun it soon will!

With that in mind I purchased something new today, specifically for the Camino!

In the main all the stuff I will take with me /use on the Camino is either something I already had, or has been bought secondhand (from a charity shop or our environmental recycling Centre) and I will be borrowing a rain poncho from a friend. This means that my environmental impact will be as low as possible … but today I invested in a double USB port so I can charge my devices! (It means I can charge two devices simultaneously, or if sockets are scarce I can share one with a fellow pilgrim!)

I really did think long and hard about going device free on the Camino, and I’m sure I could have done it (with some difficulty!) but I’ve decided against doing that for several reasons.

1. My tickets etc are saved there. I don’t want to carry (and risk losing) excess papers! I have a small diary-notebook with the key info duplicated there too. Just in case! but prefer to have electronic copies.

2. I will have the option of booking a bed ahead sometimes (if needed), but for that I need to access the internet and also my bank account via my phone to authorise payments.

3. I absolutely want to write on the Camino, and while I’m sure I’ll jot things down in my notepad (which I love) I also want to blog. It might not be daily … I don’t want to be a space to it … but I want an electronic record to jog my memory and also keep those who are following me on my journey updated.

I think I’ll link my blog to Facebook automatically! (But otherwise avoid Facebook and particularly the chat … but can make use of messenger to contact my support group for prayer( if needed)and I’ll probably use watsapp to check in with my husband)

Note I need to work out if I can disable other chat there … if not I’ll remove it temporarily as I’ll find that intrusive and find another way to send updates …maybe instagram!

4. Taking photos is another must though that too will take discipline. … I’ve decided to take my tiny Nikon with me and a spare memory card (though will use my phone/iPad too for at least a photo a day,particularly as that’s best for the blog and sending home)

and 5. Because I’m a modern-day Pilgrim, so while I’m sure following the signposts is enough, it’s good to have the map (and pilgrim information) saved electronically too!

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This sun lover : Dreaming of the Camino and cooler temperatures!

I’ve dreamt of walking the Camino for at least a decade possibly two! Though I can’t actually remember where I first heard about this particular pilgrimage – or the amazing networks of routes all leading to Santiago de Compostela, I have indeed walked in the steps of saints and pilgrims before, most recently walking the final leg of the St Cuthbert’s way across to Lindisfarne as the tide was receding. (More on that another time)

Today I’m lying on my bed here in Turku … not walking in any one’s steps … it’s too hot! it’s another stifling plus 30 C day here in southern Finland and I’m wondering how on earth people walk long distances in this heat! I walked 18km (in many stages) on Monday … with long gaps between walks, and lots of cool drinks as well …, but it was exhausting, and left me zapped of energy. Yesterday I managed only 7km and Today my tally is at 7.5 km … 5km (run) early this morning with Tinka my favourite faithful compansionn and then later to the supermarket and back for “essentials” ! It’s enough, but hardly ideal prep for the long walks on consecutive days that lie ahead!

When I dreamt of doing the Camino, I always envisioned myself setting off in early May .. and walking until mid June … but the reality is I’m setting off in six weeks time in early September and I’m really hoping it’s going to be a lot cooler weather, though I’d still be happy if the sun is shining and the rain holds off.

Meanwhile here in Finland I’ve rediscovered ice cream!

This was a new flavour (to me): pink peppermint, and it helped cool me down (for a few minutes at least).

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