Tag Archives: Spain

Stories from the backroads. My most uplifting and memorable travel and life moments are the people I meet there. Meet 3 of them.

‘The everyday kindness of the backroads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.’ ~ Charles Kurait

One of the great joys of hiking and travel for me, actually, let’s make that LIFE is the everyday kindness of the backroads. Have you ever been on a hiking trail where someone hasn’t smiled at you? Had a day in your life where you haven’t experienced the warmth of a gentle act of kindness? Struck up a conversation with someone you don’t know at a bus stop, the market, while wandering a new city, marvelling at a piece of art work or been inspired by online and walked away feeling 10 feet taller because it was a joyful moment? I’m open to those everyday life and travel moments. They are my most memorable and story worthy. They steer my life and they give me the armour I need for those times when I encounter a less desirable interaction, or, a confusing day or week.

Speaking of memorable stories here is the newest blog I am devouring. Ger’s camino Blog – Camino De Santiago. It’s a beautifully written blog with stories of Ger’s walk along The Camino Frances. She writes reflectively some years after she arrived at Santiago de Compostela as a way to make sense of her camino experience. Her writing weaves in the characters she met along the way, her experience of the trail and how that experience still impacts her thoughts. I particularly adore her stories of how she applies her lessons from the Camino to daily life.

Three kind characters from the backroads:

Meet Jon from Newcastle. Jon is on his way up to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko and he’s 88 years young. He told us he hikes this trail every year and he’s never sure when it will be the last one. His  balance isn’t as good at it used to be so he hikes with poles. We were on the way down and he was keen to ask us about the track we had taken. We had hiked up via the magnificently scenic Main Ridge Track from Charlotte Pass. He knew that track backwards even though it had been some years since he had been able to hike that trail. I walked away from this chat with a renewed appreciation of a few things.

The importance of:

  • Right now.
  • Right where I am.
  • What I can do.
  • What I am still capable of.

He was a great character to spend some time with and gorgeously as he began his assent again, the sun began to shine over the valley. I can’t help but think this was the universe rewarding this kind soul of the backroads for his dedication to kindness and his great love of the trail.

Meet Claudius (with his red backpack) from Germany. He is also in the first feature shot of this post. Can you spot him in that first shot down near the lake (Las Siete Lagunas)?  It’s a great Human v Mountain perspective. Claudius was on the summit trail to Mt. Mulhacén the same day I was. We met a few times talked a bit of life and encouraged each other along the way. As luck would have it he was staying in the same camp ground so we had the chance to debrief the next day (as we limped around).

We met many German couples travelling with a baby or toddlers. They were utilising the parental leave that both partners are entitled to and campervanning around Europe. These young German families were consistently the only other families travelling with kids that we would come across (until the summer holidays of course). Another interesting story about Germany is that some companies have legislated that managers are not allowed to email or call their staff after hours or on weekends – wouldn’t that change our lives in Australia.

On the trail I asked Claudius for his email and I emailed him the photos I had taken. He responded the next day by sending me a link to a musical he had written on You Tube as a thank you. This is the unexpected kindness that brightens my day, warms me up and builds the good, strong armour. It’s not even hard.

Putting yourself out there and choosing to give kindness is always the starting point…then you’re open to noticing. Notice and the floodgate will open.

Meet Wan from America. Wan together with her husband Steve they spend their years between their camper in Europe, their camper in Alaska, and their camper in Arizona. They no longer have a house. Wan wanted a photo with with my lot because she hoped to convince her ‘busy’ daughter to take some time out with her family in this way. If my mum had a camper waiting in Europe…I’d be hitting the road!!!

The night before we had noticed Wan cooking on her outdoor gas stove and we spent some time chatting with them about free camping. This was the first night we parked up in a beach carpark (or parcark as the littlest calls it) and it was the perfect morning as we woke to the sounds of the ocean. It was a time on the trip where I took deep breaths, smiled and thought:

This is it.

This is why we are doing what we’re doing.

This is what we’d dreamed about.

The kids surfed all day.

I surfed!

I walked out of the surf arm in arm with my daughter.

We cooked and ate right there where we walked in from the beach.

We slept right there where we ate.

We met interesting people.

The kids feet were bare.

We woke to the sounds of the ocean.

There was no plan.

It felt deliciously like freedom.

Wan had no concept of not camping in this way when there was an opportunity to wild camp.  I liked that about her, pint sized but unyielding in her desire to live like she means it. We met up with Wan and Steve again in Lisbon where they shared their in depth knowledge of Portugal, places to see, places to camp and the importance of trying the Pastéis de nata (Portugese egg tart) from Belém. Wan reminisced with sadness about last time they stayed in a beautiful park up in Belém that was now home to plastic sculptures. She didn’t understand the desire to chop down trees and built with plastic. I don’t either.

Everyday life? I have a friend who recently sent me some of her beautiful artwork, it reminds me everyday of the beauty of a creative life. A whole post is coming to share that one. Another friend has been charging a crystal specially selected for me to take on the Camino. Not a week goes by that I don’t receive a beautiful message from someone. My kids give the most generous hugs. Yesterday and today the snow turned my life into a fairytale.

All of the people who enter my life and leave a meaningful mark enter through a window of kindness. Do I mold my world to ensure this happens? Sure I do. I stick to the backroads. I’m done with the main road. I want to choose who I let in close, what I listen to, what I do with my free time, what I believe in and what I stand for. Better that than allow the the acts of greed and noise in the headlines or on the main road to manipulate my every day life.

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.


Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project.

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here.

Support crews are everything. A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

If you want to be part of the change. You can donate here if you’re inclined.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:>

                  

There will always be another trip. The essence of slow living and slow travel is the same – stopping to notice and taking the time to feel.

One winter’s morning a few years ago I was standing on Oxford Street in Sydney waiting for a bus to Bondi. I noticed my friend who was catching the bus with me checking the time against the schedule, pacing, looking and wondering where the bus was.

Me, I was breathing and thinking ‘the bus will come when it comes, slow down mum (the friend was my lovely hikey mum).’ It stuck me in that moment that the essence of slow living is simply to stop long enough to notice.  We weren’t in a hurry, we were on our way to do the coastal walk, there was time. Even if we were late, could we make the bus come faster? I wonder if she remembers that moment, she often walks without looking my mum, I used to be a bit the same.

How much of our lives do we miss because we forget to notice, forget to be present, or worry about where we need to be next? Of course it’s not easy to be present in every moment of our lives but with practice it’s a handy tool and in time it can become second nature (nice default – mindfulness). It’s one that’s especially handy in the moments when we don’t have control of a situation. Those ones that are often the most stressful.

It was a late, hot afternoon and we were parked at a service station in the concrete jungle outskirts of Madrid. The kids were topless as they sweltered in the back of the van. We were 70kms from the caravan park we had chosen.

A red light had appeared on the dashboard and my not so car savvy husband thought is was an oil signal. At the service station he topped up the engine with a litre of oil. I sat in the passenger seat of the Travelodge (AKA our camper) who was now refusing to start, he was choking on an oil overload. Um…feck (👈🏼 nifty fecking Irish ☘️ swear word, doesn’t feel too sweary). I listened to the key turn over and I looked over into a vacant lot where I noticed, not one, but two rabbits.

A situation with all elements that would normally lead to frustration, arguing and blame, but it didn’t. I think it was because I could notice the rabbits. What could we do? We sat, waited and pondered. We called the camper owners and waited some more. Eventually the engine recovered and we were able to get on the road. It was slow going as the engine struggled to breathe so with our fingers crossed we drove towards our chosen campground.

Wouldn’t you know it…the supermarket wasn’t open and the pool was still closed (of course – some days are like that). ** Camper travel tip – be mindful about pools in Mediterranean countries, they’re not open year round! After a late night phone call to my brother who does know about cars, we soon discovered that we were not going to be able to drain the oil ourselves.

Lucky the bar was open and we could drink a cold beer while the kids sweltered in a fairly gross plastic ball pit that had seen better days. This was not going to be a camp ground worth noting.

The next day my not so car savvy but good at problem solving husband rolled the car down to a service station where they drained the oil for a 6 pack. The Travelodge had a little more grunt but still something needed fixing. Thankfully, we were in Madrid which meant there was a FIAT garage. A quick polish of the rusted spark plugs and bob’s your uncle! The Travelodge was ready to roll again.

Did we visit Madrid? Nope. It was a bus and metro ride from the campsite. We were done. Too hot. Little things that said move on. We can’t do it all and when we try to – the mindfulness, the noticing, the presence gets a little harder.

At 5 weeks into our time on the road Madrid turned into a stopover. A time to check in with how we were travelling? How much we were noticing? It was a time to stop and re-evaluate what was important, to pack away the puffer jackets, read a book, maintain the van and to realise that we we don’t need to push too hard.

Slow living, noticing the moment has also taught me how to take the time to trust and feel what’s going on. It’s the natural next step and  it makes adjusting easier when the fit is wrong. Slow travel is about knowing we can always come back. Or, maybe we won’t – but on this day the timing wasn’t right and pushing wouldn’t have been the answer (is it ever?). We packed up and headed off for the familiar comforts of something wilder where we swam across a lake together.

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort. Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project.

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here.

Support crews are everything. A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

If you want to be part of the change. You can donate here if you’re inclined. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share. Thank you.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:

      

Some seeds spring straight from the ground, others take time. They all need water.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”  ― Robert Louis Stevenson

Walking the Camino is a seed that has taken a while to germinate for me.

My sister has always talked about it. I always talked about Everest.

When we sold our bike racks to a keen cyclist before we set out on this adventure he and I joked about meeting one day on the Camino. To be honest I didn’t really know anything about it then.

As we travelled it seemed to subtly keep finding it’s way into my life.

A conversation about world hikes on an Instagram post really sparked my interest.

I made a new friend online while travelling who has walked it a few times and seemed to have an incredibly meaningful grasp on life. Her comments on some of my travelling posts are still some of the ones I hold closest.

Naturally, there were signposts across Spain which kept it in my orbit.

I hiked and jogged in many remote places while travelling. It gave me strength and an increased wanderlust for more of this kind of outdoor travel.

    “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

Then there was the time towards the end of my trip where I became really uneasy about how travel was being ‘shared’ online.

At times it felt like a privileged hustle and honestly it made me hollow. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and questioning that, particularly what I want inspiring me in my feed and also how I contribute ethically.

One of the things we realised in our travels was that no matter where we lived our everyday life needed outdoor adventure.

I began making plans in my mind – otherwise known as ‘dreaming’. I was going to come back and cycle the Camino.

Once we stopped it didn’t take long to make a commitment to cycling the camino and to do for One Girl (we have a connection). If I was going to be privileged enough to walk the Camino I needed to do something meaningful with it.

Cycling seemed like the best option because I could cycle it in 2 weeks. Soon the cycling gave way to hiking.

It seems more fitting for me to hike it. I’m a hiker. Getting away for a long period of time is difficult when you’re a mum so I planned to do it in 3-4 attempts.

As the seed became more of a viable plant my supportive husband said he would take an entire month off so that I could hike the trail continuously.

And that’s where I am now.

A dream that started as a seed and is now a sturdy plant.

A start date has been set.

An adventure that is continually unfolding and at the same time unfurling me.

Not all our dreams become reality but some seeds continually whisper for water…that is how planning to walk the Camino Frances has felt for me.

I feel like it called me and it was slowly watered by dreaming, people, adventure, questioning my values, an opportunity to give, support and ultimately the right timing.

 

 

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.

Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project. 

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here. Support crews are everything.

A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

If you want to be part of the change. You can donate here if you’re inclined.

I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share. Thank you.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stick with the journey, you will arrive anyhow. Hiking tales from Mt. Mulhacén.

I have written a lot about hiking to the summit of Mt. Mulhacén in the past few months.

It was one of those hikes that shows you life. It pushed me to both ends of my emotions. I think that’s the addiction love of hiking for me.

The contentment and space in the solitude, the wonder of the landscape and animal life and the intensity that can also bring me to tears.

On the trail is where my truths are revealed and my courage is built. One foot in front of the other.

I got my first ‘no’ today. It was an accommodation booking website that I approached for sponsorship.

Ever since I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to smile in the face of rejection. Today, I had my chance.

While hiking the Camino Frances I’m planning to stay in Albergues, the Pilgrim Hostels (pilgrim style). These are dormitory style rooms and they cost between €5 -15 per night. So thirty nights is a max of €450.

If ‘said company’ sponsored my accomodation via an Australian Tax Deductible donation to my fundraiser I would list their logo and name on every Instagram post, blog post, front page of the website, and promote it all write ups and press that I may do for the entire trek, training included – the entire journey.

I would then cover my accomodation costs knowing that through the sponsorship donation two girls would receive an education. An opportunity that will literally change their lives. Which is a normal kind of exchange for sponsorship right? I’m learning here, sponsorship101.

Anyway, they don’t have the budget which I completely understand. I’m just so happy they responded. But, if they need an influencer in the future they will think of me.

Which is funny because I am not an influencer, just a shit giver. Can a generation X ever use to the word influencer, eh I’m not sure. I like the notion of inspiration but also I like that we think for ourselves not that we are influenced.

So I’ve printed that no and I’m going to keep a big pile of all the no’s (I might even keep a count). I smiled because rejection means that I’m trying. I’m in the ring…putting myself out there. Creating.

Then I did what anyone training for a big adventure would do. I listened to Sia’s ‘You can do anything’ and went for a hike in the forest.

Of course I was rewarded. The ancient woods reminded me that nothing grows overnight. But, once established it will continue to grow. Two truths right there.

Mulhacén – the details (in case you’re interested):

Mt. Mulhacén (3479m) is in the Sierra Nevada range in the Southern Spanish region of The Alpujarras It’s the highest peak on mainland Spain and rivals Mont Blanc and Mount Etna topographically. It’s named after Muley Hacén a 15th century ruler, who, legend has it is buried on the mountain peak.

The closest city is Granada (which we loved, very cool city, think Alhambra – long history) and there are many different routes to climb the mountain. The Sierra Nevada guides have put together a good post here to get your research started.

We stayed in the village of  Trevélez and camped at Camping Trevélez. In 4 months of travel Ricardo and Alexandra the owners and avid mountain climbers, were our favourites. Their wall of fame of hiking photos is inspirational. They have a variety of accommodation to choose from and we loved eating in their (family kitchen) restaurant. We found them in our Lonely Planet.

We wrote this little note as we drove out.  Oops! We still have two post cards here to send you Ricardo. (Psst. there’s a traditional garlic, egg free mayonaisse recipe in that note – delicious.)

The village has many smaller hikes. A market, handcraft stalls and many bars where you can sample the famous serrano ham. It is also  home to Cortijos Alberquilla, one of the largest organic goat and cheese farms.

It was a tough 10 hour hike from the village via Las Siete Lagunas, the seven glacial lakes set in the mountains. My legs cramped at the summit and my knees buckled by the end of the relentless downhill and I’ve since lost toe nails but it was worth every minute.

I took so many blissful, deep breaths as I gazed across the open valleys while the sun was rising. For the most part it was a solo hike but I enjoyed moments in the company and kindness of fellow hikers. There was a brief moment of magic as a mountain goat showed me a way across the river and of course the deep satisfaction of doing it on my own and the pushing through when it got tough.

The summit. That was a spectacular accomplishment but I only spent 10 minutes up there between the cramping and the freezing cold wind (take warm stuff – altitude my friends). I was keen to get back to the the 9hr and 50mins I would spent on the trail that day.

The journey isn’t always lovely, nope – some hikes are damn hard, uncomfortable and they can hurt, a bit like life.

But, when the good stuff happens. The moments you notice, the love you feel, the strength you dig into that’s yours – that you built, the truths that reveal themselves, the people who make everything meaningful – that’s the sweet stuff.

I was humbled by my experience hiking on Mt. Mulhacén and I’m stronger because of it. I will return to Trevélez one day because I have my eye on Veleta (3398 m) and Citadel (3366 m).

We are also planning to hike our kids up to the summit with an overnight camp at Las Siete Lagunas – they just need to grow their hiking legs a little first.

So many wonderful memories from this 4 day stay in this special region and village in Spain. If you’re a mountain lover – do visit and please say the warmest hello to Ricardo and Alexandra for us. They are beautiful people living life with BIG love.

 

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.

Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project. 

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here. Support crews are everything.

A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

Lovely, kind readers – I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors: