Tag Archives: slow travel

Writing from Grañón – Day 9

Two maps because my watch went flat!

Isn’t it incredible how our bodies can adjust? In just 9 days we’ve walked over 200kms. Initially once arriving at our accommodation all we wanted to do was kick our shoes off, desperately! Now not only do we not need to do that but we also can walk comfortably up and down the stairs. No more DOMS.

Don’t get me wrong when we are walking during the day something can randomly begin to hurt but my body seems to be finding it’s rhythm – 30kms is still my max.

Days on the Camino – 9

Kms – Today 29 kms. Our total is now around 230kms.

Starting point today – Nájera, Spain.

End of the day – Grañón, Spain.

Number of girls in Africa educated – 19

Total funds raised so far $5,980.00. 

If you’d like to contribute you can do so here.

Frances Antonia – Do it in a dress.

Thanks for the help Kimmy from the Women Who Hike team.

Today was dedicated to – Mum and Dad. Ria and Frank. You taught me to be adventurous, strong, resilient, creative, capable and independent. I’m not sure if that was your plan … I suspect each of you have strengths each of the above. It has served me well. I can’t help but think this Camino is something that you would have both loved for different reasons. I’m a product of both of you so I love it for what each of you would have. And so today and most days actually I walk for you two. x x

Accommodation – I think we are trying it all! We are in a small town and the option was either a donativo or private accommodation. The donativo is above the church and has a communal meal, prayers and a sacred chant. We will try one of these ‘traditional’ pilgrim style stays but after the difficult night in that dodgy albergue a few nights back we’ve sought out our own space. Tonight we have an entire casa to ourselves. Kitchen, lounge, bedroom and bathroom (€22.50) each.

Food highlight – After walking 20kms with very few places to stop … heaven was walking into a cafe that sold a homemade burger with fresh salad and a chocolate milk!

In a word(s) – Feeling stronger.

After a week on the camino you find your pace, the people that keep your pace and your preferred mode of moving through your day. Of course we’re all moving here but we do it differently. There’s no right or wrong way to do a camino, there’s just your own way. Just like life, as long as your not hurting anyone (obvs).

Today I’m tired so I’m going to leave it here with a few photos and a quick poem.

A day of friends

Around every bend

A moment in time

That is just mine

Time to delight

In all that takes flight

Buen Camino,

Fran

Xxx

Writing from Nájera – Day 8

“Yo que fui lo que tu eres, tu seras lo que yo soy” ~ inscripted on the cemetery gates of Los Arcos.

“I was once what you are, and you will be what I am”. A good enough reason to be living today and not counting down to something in the future don’t you think. We laughed a lot today mostly at ourselves and our alternating sources of discomfort. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else though, walking is my purpose now.

Days on the Camino – 8

Kms – Today 29 kms. Our total is now around 202kms. No major ailments the legs are less stiff, feet hurt by the end of the day, no more heat rash on the feet. Just waiting for the bites to settle now ;)

Starting point today – Longroño, Spain.

End of the day – Nájera, Spain.

Number of girls in Africa educated – 19

Total funds raised so far $5,980.00. 

If you’d like to contribute you can do so here.

Frances Antonia – Do it in a dress.

Thanks for the help Kimmy from the Women Who Hike team.

Today was dedicated to – My sister for making me laugh till I cried today x 10!

Accommodation – We tried something different today and pre booked a night. We found an Albergue that has a twin room and was clean and reviewed well. (€15 each). Very happy here although it was weird knowing we had to be somewhere by a certain time or we’d lose our room! We’re fast walkers so getting here by 3pm wasn’t a problem. Tomorrow we’ll go back to rolling into town and finding a place.

Yes Liz you can pre book the private Albergue’s. You don’t pre pay but you need to arrive by 3 or you lose your room. I’ve met people who have pre booked the whole trip. Remember sprightly Carol? She did a tour last year and this year she simply booked all the same places. If you forward your bags on via transport (rather than carry your pack) you must have a place booked. It does mean you can’t change your plans on the day though. We prefer the flexibility.

Food highlight – Eating a juicy Spanish orange on a mountain top.

In a word(s) – Laughing.

It was a day of laughing at ourselves. What else can you do when at any given moment something hurts! After a sluggish start at around 20kms with new sense of vigour I announced to my sister ‘I’ve woken up’! She replied ‘the nurofen you took 1/2 an hour ago has just kicked in’. Queue another round of belly laughs.

There was a lot of walking without talking today. Most of those we passed acknowledged us with a head nod … we’re all feeling it. Not like the first few days!

I love it though. This is the guts of the walk. The time you have to dig in, it’s the character building stuff. Today I thought a lot about how unreal it is that this walk of mine with the help of so many others is going to send girls to school! Girls who without this are more likely to be married at 12. We’re sending almost a whole class of them to school. That’s so much more than any discomfort I may feel. That’s my purpose. Following on from yesterday thoughts … it’s purpose that gives me a way marker in life.

On this day of walking between vineyards, of spotting animals, lakes and ancient pilgrim hospital ruins, photographing landscape and people (pilgrims – mostly from behind). This overcast day with its fresh breeze that made walking tired so very pleasant I think of all of those who have supported this project. I walk on knowing that while I’m here walking with a purpose and I won’t have regrets.

Buen Camino

Fran xx

Writing from Logroño – Day 7

22-04-2018

We are always looking for way markers on the camino. Scallop shells, yellow painted arrows, sometimes concreted paths have bronze scallops or tiles and there’s the odd cairn. Some days arrows are lovingly created with rocks and adorned with flowers. We need these markers to help us find our way along the this path. The sweet path that’s winding it’s way through this romantic countryside. Way makers, hmm a nice take home from the camino to everyday life I think.

Days on the Camino – 7 (1 week)!

Kms – Today 27.8 kms. Our total is now around 173kms. I’m still blister free thankfully but I hobbled into town pretty darn smashed today. But after the standard shower, clothes wash and an afternoon to refuel and not move we’re planning an early start tomorrow. The heat rash thing on my feet is better today but I am managing some bites from last night 🙈. I’m allergic so I’m taking antihistamines straight away. Pharmacy’s are excellent here.

Starting point today – Los Arcos, Spain (the only city I’d say I’d never stop in again).

End of the day – Longroño, Spain.

Number of girls in Africa educated – 19

Total funds raised so far $5,980.00. 

If you’d like to contribute you can do so here.

Frances Antonia – Do it in a dress.

Thanks for the help Kimmy from the Women Who Hike team.

Today was dedicated to – A few years ago I was privileged to sit in the front row of a presentation from Morgan Koegal. As the time she was the dynamo leading the One Girl family. How she directed her passion and energy towards leading a meaningful life and standing for something profoundly changed me that day. I think it was she who woke a part of me that had been sleeping. The little girl who always wanted to stand up for those who needed a little more help. We adore you Morgan and send you all our love. Fran and Zoë. x x

Accommodation – After a tough night in Los Arcos, if you read yesterday’s post my suspicions were confirmed. We are now happily 30kms away and checked into an Albergue in Longoño. We’re sprawled on our beds not wearing pants because we don’t have to! We’re taking a recovery night in a twin room with our own private bathroom (oh the luxury) and there’s no one else walking in or snoring. €25 each.

Food highlight – Lunch 20kms into today, in the sun with my feet up on a bench. €1.70 – A chocolate milk, a fruity and a chocolate pastry! I’m eating way less on the camino, even with the exercise. We leave in the morning with a banana, an orange and an apple. At the 7km mark we need a coffee and a small snack and then by 15 – 20kms we need a lunch stop. We’re not really needing or looking for snacks during the day. I’d read about that happening to people. Loads of water 4-5 litre’s a day.

In a word(s) – Superbly smashed.

It’s been a big day today, one that started tiredly after a night with very little sleep. We all have those days don’t we when it takes a few hours to wake up!

We’ve been lucky with hostels. Each one we’ve literally walked up to and dropped our packs just as pilgrims have for hundreds of years. Each of them have had chairs and tables welcoming us to sit outside and we’ve been greeted by a friendly host ready to stamp our credentials and offer us a bed.

Yesterday after a long last 10 kms without towns or breaks we were ready to find our inn. Except we couldn’t. We walked into town looking for that familiar welcome and it didn’t arrive. Eventually we looked in the guide book to find an Albergue and with only two mentioned we passed up on the 70 bed dorm and opted for the smaller one.

No welcome table outside. After paying our money and removing our boots we walked through the reception area (a converted garage) to find an unloved outdoor terrace outside showers, toilets and then led to a dorm. It didn’t feel homely or cared for. I felt for true first time like a commodity. The pilgrim who pays, stays and leaves, no concern of the owner just €10 please.

I wonder why I didn’t just say no we can’t stay here … deep down I knew it wasn’t great. We just thought oh well we’ll make do this is going to happen every now and we accepted our situation.

It was a challenging night. I’m up for challenge as you well know! Basic yes, sleeping in dorms and sharing bathrooms but that doesn’t have to include hovels. Best I consider the way markers I need.

The scallop shells took us along the path from the Navarre region into La Rioja today. It feels like we walked out of the blooms in the Sth of France and into the vineyards and Olive groves of Tuscany.

It’s easy here on the Camino to find my path. I’m looking for the scallop shells and yellow arrows and now I’m also looking for welcoming chairs and tables, inn keepers who smile and I’ll also be looking at rooms if it doesn’t feel right. Maybe the lesson here is that life can be simpler with the right way markers.

Buen Camino,

Fran xx

Writing from Lorca – Day 5

As each new day unfolds on this walk across Spain it’s bringing a new landscape to my life. There are the physical ones I’m walking into, the mistakes we make that we will tweak tomorrow, the unbelievable swell of support from women around the globe who are right here walking with me and standing with me to support One Girl. And then there’s relationship with my sister – I missed her today as we wandered a little way apart. She’s my Robin or maybe I’m the Robin depending on who’s Batgirl at any given moment.

Days on the Camino – 5

Kms – 28 kms. Total is around 105.2kms!! Yes we’ve cracked the first 100! I’m still blister free. The heat rash thing from yesterday is clearing or it’s no worse. My feet are sore, naturally.

Starting point today – Zariquiegui, Spain.

End of the day – Lorca, Spain .

Number of girls in Africa educated – 19

Total funds raised so far $5,950.00. If you’d like to contribute you can do so here.

Frances Antonia – Do it in a dress.

Thanks for the help Kimmy from the Women Who Hike team.

Today was dedicated to

A friend in Bendigo with a gracious heart, a kind spirit and a wise soul. My friend Selene whose heart is a little broken. Today was always going to be a walk for her and this morning we walked up the hill to these bronze statues representing the pilgrims of the Middle Ages. On which one has this engraved:

Donde se cruza el camino del viento con el de las estrellas which translates into English as where the path of the wind crosses that of the stars.

My friend who reads here will know the serendipitous nature of me walking into this moment on her day of being in my thoughts. It’s in the wind dear friend I hope it hugs you.

Accommodation – The albergue La Bodega del Camino in this medieval like village in Lorca is ticking all our boxes. A double room in this hostel is €20 per night! So rather than €9 each for a bunk we have a double room with doors that close (currently introverting in here – we all must be ok with knowing what we need right ;)). And now we have a new accom option when they arise – the private room amongst the dorms.

There is a bar and restaurant here with the option of the pilgrim meal or an a la carte menu. Also handy drying racks on the balcony and loads of them!

Personally we are quite enjoying longer walks, less breaks and arriving at the albergue’s in the early afternoon (we must have a meal/break between 15-20kms). The showers are empty, the beds are free and the afternoon becomes ours. That’s our Camino way.

Food highlight – Local peppers are no longer on the menu … but for lunch today was a massive bowl of spag bol was! After 28 odd kms and no lunch stop – I inhaled that!

In a word(s) – Blissfully tired and NOT getting off this double bed! A self catered €6 dinner is taking care of that, thanks sister.

It was a social trail today! Remember German Lucas from Orisson, day 1? Well as it turns out he wasn’t walking with his dad. He was just sitting with a guy who looked like his dad and they’d met on the Camino. He is on the left and man he sets a cracking pace! I hope my kids at 23 are independent enough to walk a Camino on their own. Lucas is meeting his mum further down the path to walk into Santiago with – how special!

And on the right is Mark he also German and excellent at identifying wild herbs. He was walking with Gunther in a past photo remember the gentleman pulling the trolley from day 2? We’d never spoken until today and I presumed Gunther was his dad, it turns out he isn’t! They had also met on the Camino. It seems I make a lot of presumptions.

We walked about 20kms with these guys and as they settled for a break in the town of Cirauqui. My sister and I were going to push on but first I had a brief chat with Miriam. A Dutchie who does a part of Camino each year. Each year for 10 of the last 14 – she started in Amsterdam. No, I’m not joking she started in Amsterdam 14 years ago. How’s that! And guess what else? She lived right near where I do now in The Netherlands! Coincidences of the nicest kind.

To exit the town of Cirauqui you walk under a Roman Arch and along a Roman road to exit. Off we marched the two of us, Batgirl and Robyn with our big grins. We made a BIG mistake here. We’d walked through the town – the one we planned to have lunch in and instead of going back under that Roman Arch to find food we walked on. We couldn’t be bothered turning around but we could be bothered to tackle the next 5.5 kms! Nuts. That was 22 kms without a stop other than a coffee in Puente la Reina, (home of the famous ‘Queens Bridge’ that was built to support the safe passage of medieval pilgrims) and our breaky of boiled eggs and fruit!

No surprises then that when we made it to Lorca after a good 27kms we dropped our packs – SPENT and done for the day!

But what a day it was – we walked into a new landscape where the vines and olive trees grow, where the thyme grows wild and along the way we passed through medieval villages, walked on Roman roads and crossed Romanesque bridges built for pilgrims of the past. And BOY did we laugh at our bodily woes, my sister and I.

On this day we also clocked over the first 100 kms of hiking and another two girls will receive an education thanks to some more unbelievable family generosity. The global community of global women continue to fill my inbox with heartfelt messages of support, hope and kindness … the Camino is providing or is it life that is providing???

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

Today a new blogger started following me and she just started a blog (with this quote). I don’t know her, I don’t think I do … but I like that she’s started a journey. That’s where it all begins …

Buen Camino

Fran x

Writing from Larrasoaña – Day 3

Arriving, unpacking, showering, clothes washing, afternoons to write, ponder the day, share stories and relax, dinner, repack, breakfast, hiking … repeat! That about sums up my days so far on the Camino. Quite routined yet absolutely unpredictable.

Days on the Camino – 3

Kms – 28kms today = 57kms total (blister free).

Starting point today – Roncesvalles, Spain.

End of the day – Larrosoaña, Spain.

Number of girls in Africa educated – 17

Total funds raised so far $5,295.00 If you’d like to contribute you can do so here. Frances Antonia – Do it in a dress.

Thanks for the help Kimmy  from the Women Who Hike team.

Today was dedicated to – Today I stepped for my friend Ian! We met some 15 years or so ago sitting in the immigration office in The Netherlands. We can have years without contact but always when our paths and cities collide we eat and we laugh. He has been so supportive of this trek, providing hours of PR work and life support (as required ;)). Since moving to The Netherlands he has been one of my closest confidants and biggest believers even though he lives in France. I love you my dear friend.

Accommodation – The albergue San Nicolás in Larrasoaña is a family run pilgrim hostel. It’s €12 per night, we added a pilgrim dinner here for €11 for the 3 courses. The rooms are female only which is nice.

Food highlight – It definitely wasn’t the breakfast – toasted baguettes that were so toasted I’d call them croutons! We stopped for a lunch break in Zubiri after the first 20kms – a tuna and olive empanada pie highlight hands down👌🏼👌🏼.

In a word(s) – settling in.

The Roncesvalles albergue runs like a well oiled machine. Not quite out of the mountains it sits at an altitude of 950m and is populated by 30 inhabitants! With the help of the Dutch friends of the camino who volunteer at this old monetary, pilgrims are orderly organised in from 2 and out by 8. Wake up music plays through the 200 room dorm speakers at 6.30am.

This morning we tried the pre-ordered breakfast. We had a long day of hiking ahead. We ordered it simply because of the ‘habit’ of sitting down to breakfast while on a holiday and because it was available. Note to future pilgrims walk a little on your way and you’ll find a better cafe and supermarket.

We soon realised that on the Camino sitting down to breakfast is a quick affair. Walking is what we get up to do, however you do you camino. While I carry my pack some opt to forward theirs on with transport to their next accommodation and this gentleman opts for a trolley for his bigger pack! I prefer to carry mine so we can decide on the day or during the walk where we will stop, but I have a time luxury, a strong(ish) back and my age helps.

I also like the idea that it feels like a day’s work! Good old fashioned hard work. Moving my body beyond its comfort zone and making it stronger. There was a time when we all would have moved and carried heavy things. That’s what I’m telling myself ;)

There was a lot of one foot in front of the other today and the ever present friendliness on the trail. I think walking your own pace is important and your own way … but sometimes when you meet someone who’s pace matches and the conversation is good and it works it’s awesome.

I think we’re beginning to build our Camino family. Tonight we caught up with the sprightly one (Carol) and said goodbye as we plan to go further tomorrow. It struck me over dinner as I spoke with Manuel (7th Camino) with his Spanish and my non Spanish how completely surreal this environment is. You know how kids love school camp? I think this is like that and as adults we’ve forgotten how fun school camp was!!

While the routine of how we start and finish the day each step, each climb, each corner brings something new. As we trekked away the snow topped mountains and through the rolling hills of the Navarra region we met the spring. We walked through farms, towns, plains, across rivers as we followed the Camino arrows into the realization that these days with their uniqueness will form something spectacular.

We’re going to try something new tomorrow. We’re opting for an early start with fruit (from the supermarket) to snack as we walk … we’ll stop for coffee at the first town.

The simplicity living with what you need in a pack and this minimal routine provides an ease to make these tweaks. The tweaks that improve the flow of the day, days that lead to weeks, weeks that will form the month – the walk. Each of us here will tweak different things but we will all arrive home tweaked for the better – how could we not.

Buen Camino

Fran x