Tag Archives: Spain

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: