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100 Kilometers in 4 Adventurous Days

Embarking on the Remarkable Journey from Le-Puy-en-Velay to Aumont-Aubrac

We did it! What an amazing experience, but believe me, this route is reserved for seasoned and exceptionally fit travellers. The concept: “after every downhill, there will be an uphill,” takes on a vivid meaning along the Chemin Le-Puy, also known as GR 65, or for modern-day pilgrims, the Via Podiensis in France.

The trail is impressively marked with the characteristic white and red bands, symbolizing the extensive French long-distance hiking routes known as the Grande Randonnées. Therefore, unlike the Camino de Santiago, where pilgrims uniformly move in one direction, on the Via Podiensis, you might encounter fellow hikers coming towards you at times.

This journey commences amidst the volcanic splendour of the Velay mountains, traverses the serene expanse of the Aubrac Plateau, meanders through the picturesque Lot river valley, and skirts the enchanting brandy vineyards of Armagnac, concluding in the captivating Basque region of the Pyrenees, where the Camino Francés embarks. I refer to this unique pilgrimage as the “Two Beginnings Camino”: the first 100 kilometres of the Podiensis followed by the initial 100 kilometres of the Camino Francés, commencing from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and in our case, ending in Pamplona. I’ll save more about that part of our journey for my upcoming post.

Much like the renowned Camino Francés in Spain, numerous segments of the Chemin are honoured with UNESCO World Heritage recognition, acknowledging their pivotal role in facilitating religious and cultural exchange during the later Middle Ages. Notably, the most formidable stretch of this route appears to be the initial ten days, characterized by the most challenging ascents and descents. Indeed, I can attest to this first-hand!”

Much like the renowned Camino Francés, the Via Podiensis has its roots deeply embedded in medieval texts. The earliest documented pilgrimage to Santiago from regions beyond the Pyrenees can be traced back to Bishop Godescalc of Le Puy-en-Velay, who embarked on this spiritual journey in the years 950-951 AD. However, the idea that Le Puy would become the starting point for pilgrims en route to Santiago primarily emerged during the 20th century. This transformation was greatly facilitated by the establishment of a long-distance hiking route in the 1970s, known as the GR®65. This modern-day trail faithfully recreated the historical pilgrim’s route from Le Puy to the Spanish border.

Our Journey started on the 22nd of September 2023. We started the journey appropriately attending the 07:00 am pilgrims mass, a truly wonderful experience! and when our group of eight intrepid travellers commenced our pilgrimage adventure with a challenging uphill climb out of Le-Puy-En-Velay. And yes, the higher you ascend, the more breathtaking the views become. Le-Puy boasts a collection of remarkable monuments that tower above the picturesque cityscape, thanks to the region’s volcanic geological features. Within a few kilometres, you have the most spectacular views over the city!

Day one of our journey took us from Le-Puy to Saint Privat D’Alier, covering a lengthy yet exhilarating distance of 24 kilometres. Our first break only came after a demanding 10 kilometres at the Eglise Saint-Christophe-sur-Dolaizon church. In this quaint village, we encountered a public toilet and only one bar, where the bartender raised his eyebrow at our request for coffee. At 11:00 am all his other customers were having a mid-morning beer or glass of wine! It quickly became evident that coffee stops along the way were not as abundant as those found on the Camino routes. Thus, Tip number one: Bring a coffee flask and some zip-lock bags to pack your own mid-way snacks. Breakfast in France is usually a croissant, crepes, sometimes cheese, yoghurt and apple mouse. So if you need protein, do stock up at the local café.

The final 2 kilometres presented a steep downhill descent on treacherously loose gravel. Tip number two: Bring two hiking poles! Walking the Chemin Le-Puy without these essential companions would be a dangerous challenge.

Saint Privat D’Allier, a charming little town, offered limited dinner options. Pizzas, baguettes, cheese, and ham from the local café on the corner, is the go-to here. We opted for the latter and had a fun “hotel room picnic”. This leads us to Tip number three: Bring a corkscrew from home – wine is readily available in France, but screwtops are nowhere to be found!

Day two, as we were warned, proved to be quite the challenge. Normally a 20-kilometer stretch may not seem daunting, but we soon discovered that appearances can be deceiving. Our journey from the previous day’s descent continued for about 2.5 kilometres before we reached a brief plateau, offering a “breath catch” moment. Then comes a formidable ascent that stretches over a relentless 8 kilometres. This uphill climb soared 800 meters in total elevation. Some advice: Begin your day quite early, and take it slow. Ensure you have an ample supply of water and snacks with you. What’s intriguing about this route is the “WC’s” (toilets) along the way. Every so often, you’ll encounter a wooden shack marked with a WC sign. Surprisingly, these “dry toilets” are environmentally friendly, quite clean and actually odour-free.

The next two days continue to pose challenges in terms of refreshment stops; they are few and far between, almost non-existent. Therefore, Tip number 4: Stock up on refreshments for your hike the day before. Bringing snacks from South Africa is not advisable, as the luggage transfer limit is set at 13 kilograms per day, making it impossible to transport loads of snacks with you. But all the villages have ‘supermarchés’ so buying fresh fruit, baguettes, cheese etc. is very easy.

We concluded the first part of our “Two Beginnings Camino” in Aumont-Aubrac, a stunning town that stands out as a highlight along the route. However, our journey did not end without a minor hiccup. We received notice the day prior that our train for the following day had been cancelled due to strikes – a typical occurrence here in France. So, I mustered my best French to explain my predicament to the lovely and friendly lady at the tourism office. She reassured me, saying, “This is quite usual for us. But do not worry, a bus will come to pick you up. The timing has changed slightly, but you will not be left behind!” And indeed, the bus arrived! Hence, here’s Tip number 5: Don’t stress about train cancellations in France. It’s rather common and you won’t find yourself stranded.

In summary, the first 100 kilometres of the Via Podiensis were marked by challenging terrain, but the exquisite French countryside more than compensated for the difficulties. Croissants, baguettes, cheese, wine – the French cuisine and lifestyle are truly captivating. It was a delightful experience. Now, on to Spain and my beloved Camino Francés!

 

 

September is Camino High Season!

Welcome to the bustling High Camino Season in September!

At this time of year, we at ‘Stap die Camino’ are abuzz with activity, assisting twelve groups along various picturesque routes, each day witnessing the departure of more enthusiastic pilgrims. The charming city of Santiago de Compostela has become a daily destination for a remarkable number of pilgrims. On this beautiful day, September 17, 2023, an impressive 2108 pilgrims were elated to receive their coveted Compostela at the Pilgrim’s Reception Office, which is expertly managed by the Cathedral of Santiago.

In the Archdiocese of Santiago de Compostela, this office serves as the destination to obtain the cherished final stamp on your ‘credenciales de peregrino’ (pilgrim’s credentials). It’s also where you will be presented with the traditional pilgrimage certificate known as the ‘Compostela.’

Before embarking on your remarkable Camino journey, we recommend taking a moment to acquaint yourself with the process of receiving your well-earned Compostela. You can find more information on the official website of the Pilgrim’s Office: https://oficinadelperegrino.com/en/

With over 2000 pilgrims eager to collect their Compostelas on any given day, the process can be quite overwhelming! To streamline your experience, we encourage you to pre-register online, a step that will save you valuable time.

Upon your arrival in Santiago de Compostela, make your way to the Pilgrim’s Office, conveniently located at Rúa das Carretas, 33. Request your turn, then patiently await your moment to approach the counter with your Credential in hand, finally receiving your well-deserved Compostela!”

I’m eagerly setting off on Tuesday, September 19th, for a highly anticipated adventure to discover the Via Podiensis in France. I’ll be joined by seven fellow pilgrims as we embark on our journey, commencing our pilgrimage in the picturesque town of Le-Puy-En-Velay. Our path will lead us towards Spain, eventually connecting with the renowned Camino Francés in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.”

Simultaneously, Erns Grunling is making his way to Santiago along the scenic Camino Portuguese, accompanied by nine fellow pilgrims. Another spirited group of ten enthusiastic pilgrims, known as the ‘Sun Catcher’, is embarking on the unique journey of the Camino Finisterre in reverse, commencing their pilgrimage in Muxia with the aim of arriving in Santiago on October 3rd!

So watch this space. Many exciting stories, testimonies, pictures and tips will follow soon.

Buen Camino everyone!

Portugese Camino saam met Erns Grundling

PORTUGESE CAMINO saam met Erns Grundling

13-29 SEPTEMBER 2023

Die Camino bars tans uit sy nate met derduisende pelgrims wat van regoor die wêreld - en ook Suid-Afrika - op Spanje toesak. Ek gaan van 13-29 September die stiller maar diep tradisionele Portugese Camino stap van Porto tot Santiago Compostela, saam met Stap die Camino - Vellies na die Vreemde. Daar is nog 'n paar plekke beskikbaar op hierdie groepstap, waar niemand in 'n groep stap nie.

Hier is die feite

Afstand: 270 km
Stapdae: 12
Rusdae: 1, in die pragtige Tui (ons het ook 'n ekstra afdag in Porto voor ons begin stap, en 'n dag ná die tyd om Santiago de Compostela te verken).
Koste: R41 000 per persoon wat deel of R51 700 (enkelkamer)
Teen wisselkoers van Euro 1 = R21

Prys sluit in

  • Alle akkommodasie in netjiese 2/3 ster hotelletjies op of naby Camino-roete
  • Alle ontbyte en 8 aandetes
  • Bagasievervoer tydens stapdae (die stap is slackpacking)
  • Registrasie en dokumentasie (nodig vir Visa-aansoek)
  • Voorbereiding, wenke, paklys ens
  • Pelgrimpaspoort, handleiding met kaarte
  • 24/7 ondersteuning van Engelssprekende agente in Europa
  • En ek, Erns, as begeleier

Prys sluit uit

  • Alle vlugte (ons bied wel 'n puik reisagent se diens om te help met besprekings)
  • Bus/Trein vervoer op Dag 1
  • Lughawevervoer op laaste dag
  • Schengen Visa (StapdieCamino bied ondersteuning teen R350)
  • Middagetes en ander etes wat nie ingesluit is in reisplan nie
  • Reis en mediese versekering (ons reisagent kan help met reisversekering bespreek)
  • Persoonlike uitgawes (drankies, wasgoed, selfoondata ens)

Hoe werk dit?

Ons groep is maksimum 20. In die dag stap elkeen teen sy of haar eie pas, ons loop of kuier mekaar raak, en saans geniet ons saam aandete en gesels oor die dag wat was en die dag wat voorlê. Lekker rustig en informeel. Ek deel ook graag in die aande 'n paar gedagtes oor pelgrims en mindfulness en fasiliteer die gesprek.

Besprekings of Meer inligting

Kontak nou vir Yolandi van der Wath by yolandi@stapdiecamino.co.za of ‪082 325 3053‬ vir besprekings, of vir meer inligting kontak my met 'n DM of epos by katvis22@gmail.com

 

 

 

The Via Podiensis

The Via Podiensis, also known as Chemin le Puy or the Le Puy Route, represents one of the foremost popular pilgrimage routes in France, offering an unforgettable journey through the picturesque landscapes en-route to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, northwest Spain.

The origins of this esteemed pilgrimage can be traced back to the year 950 or 951 when Godescalc, the bishop of Le Puy-en-Velay, embarked on a momentous pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. As the first non-Hispanic to undertake this sacred journey, Godescalc led a large entourage comprising clergymen, their attendants and servants, as well as distinguished nobles and gentlemen.

Today, the tradition of this pilgrimage on the Le Puy Route endures, commencing in the beautiful Cathédrale Notre-Dame du Puy in Le Puy-en-Velay. Pilgrims have the opportunity to receive blessings each morning before embarking on their expedition to Santiago de Compostela. Many consider this starting point as the "true beginning" of the Camino Francés, and the French leg of the pilgrimage concludes approximately 750 kilometres further at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, just prior to crossing the Pyrenees and entering Spain.

The Le Puy Route offers an awe-inspiring experience, boasting breathtaking views of volcanic landscapes and captivating countryside. Nature enthusiasts, in particular, will appreciate the route's remarkable scenery, as it is renowned for its diverse and captivating natural wonders.

Secondly, the more widely recognized starting point of the Camino Francés is situated in St Jean Pied de Port, France. This route traverses the majestic Pyrenees and extends across northern Spain, spanning nearly 800 kilometres before reaching the sacred destination and Km Nil in Santiago de Compostela. Given the substantial distance involved, many pilgrims prefer to undertake this journey in stages, allowing for a more manageable time and pace.

Join our Group Journey

I invite you to join us on the extraordinary Camino journey, aptly named "The Two Beginnings." Embark on the Via Podiensis as well as the Camino Francés, and embrace the enriching adventure that awaits me and fellow pilgrim Marina Loubser. We will traverse remarkable landscapes, connect with fellow pilgrims, and forge a profound connection with history and spirituality.

Day Date Route Km
1 19/09 Depart South Africa. 0
2 20/09 Arrive Madrid. Transfer to Le-Puy-en-Velay 0
3 21/09 Le-Puy-en-Velay free day 0
4 22/09 Le-Puy-en-Velay - Saint-Privat-d'Allier 24
5 23/09 Saint-Privat-d'Allier - Saugues 20
6 24/09 Saugues - Les Faux 28
7 25/09 Les Faux – Peyre-en-Aubrac 24
8 26/09 Transfer to Toulouse 0
9 27/09 Transfer to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port 0 / 18
10 28/09 Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port - Orisson 10
11 29/09 Orisson - Roncesvalles 14
12 30/09 Roncesvalles - Zubiri 22
13 01/09 Zubiri - Pamplona 20
14 02/09 Free day Pamplona 0
15 03/09 Train to Madrid - Madrid free day & Flamenco show 0
16 04/09 Depart at 23:30 (still full day in Madrid) 0
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Le Puy en Velay

As the starting point for the Le Puy Camino in France, this small city has much to offer.  Two unique sites are the Cathedral and Hermitage that are perched atop ancient volcanoes and only accessible by climbing the many steps up.  The Cathedral of Notre Dame, dates from the 12th Century and is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most distinctive Romanesque cathedrals in France. Be sure to also save some energy to wander the small streets flanked by tall pastel buildings of the old city.  Here you will find many shops and cafes as well as the famed lace makers of Le Puy.

Sauges

Sauges has served as a popular stopping point on the Le Puy Camino for many centuries, situated between the mountains of Margeride and the Allier Valley.  Although a small town there is much to see and do here.  From visiting the Fantastic Museum of the Beast of Gevaudan to the Romanesque Church of St Ménard and the Tower of the English that dates from Medieval times all within a short walk of each other. Whilst here take the opportunity also to try the traditional dish of Aligot – mashed potato mixed with butter, garlic cream and the local cheese Tomme.

Aumont-Aubrac

Aumont-Aubrac was built around the crossroads of the ancient routes between Lyon – Toulouse and Auvergne. Relax in this typical French town, wander the old streets and come across its Statue of the Beast of Gevaudan above the fountain, or visit the Tourist Information Centre situated in the House of the Priory that was restored in the ’90s has a beautiful vaulted cellar in the basement.  A must-visit also for pilgrims is the Church of Saint-Etienne which sits on the site of a priory from 106. Over the centuries it has undergone many restorations and today you can see clearly the Romanesque and Baroque influences. A peculiarity of the church is its eccentric belfry rebuilt in 1839 with stones from the cemetery. Inside you can witness the glimmers of coloured light from the 12 stained glass windows.

Frikkie Burger deel met ons sy en vroulief Anette se ervaring saam met Erns

Frikkie Burger deel met ons sy en vroulief Anette se ervaring saam met Erns

Elke mens moet die Camino gaan stap.. dis n ongelooflike ondervinding, dit sal jou lewe verander…ja ja, almal wat dit al gestap het sê so, en hulle is reg. Dit was gelukkig ook op my emmerskop lysie en in Julie het ons groot stap uiteindelik gerealiseer. Elke dag se stap, ure van stil wees en tyd om te dink, maar meer nog, tyd om net te fokus op die stap, tree vir tree fokus die pad, die natuur die pragtige landskap, die klein dorpies en natuurlik die mense, wat ‘n ongelooflike 216 km ervaring! Ons het baie kans gehad om te dink, oor dankbaarheid, oor ‘n meer eenvoudige lewenswyse, om ligter te lewe, en n paar ander temas wat Ernst daagliks voorgestel het. Die stap ervaring was selfs beter as wat ek in my wildste drome kon droom!

Die enigste vraag is nou.. Watter roete stap ons volgende jaar..?
Beun Camino, Frikkie en Annette 2022

Sou jy veiliger voel om by ‘n groep aan te sluit?

Sou jy veiliger voel om by ‘n groep aan te sluit? Dan is Charlotte Werth se Camino’s dalk net die regte opsie vir jou!

Charlotte Werth oor pelgrimswees… Charlotte het in April 2022 een van ons eerste post-covid groepe vanaf Tui na Santiago gelei. Sy vertel…

Met grote geesdrif het ek reeds in 2019 my 5de Camino ekskursie beplan om helaas eers in 2022 weer hierdie geliefde roete aan te pak. Soos ‘n wafferse caminoholic kundige kon ek my ondervinding oor wat om te pak, watter pleisters werk, voete en stywe lywe raad, met visumafsprake help en sommer algemene leiding gee saam met Vellies na die Vreemde se ondersteuning.

Toe 2022 anbreek begin alle Covid vrese verdwyn soos mis voor die son. Ons gaan Camino, come hell or high water!

‘n Camino reis gaan gepaart met Spanje beleef – die kultuur, kosse, gewoontes (soos siesta!), die taal en die mense. Hierdie keer lê ek dit vas met ‘n go-pro aan my sy om te kan saambring…. waar ons voete gestap het, waar ons gebly, geëet, gelag het. Die stil word oomblike, seer lywe en elke dag se klein oorwinnings. En natuurlik die Vino’s – blanco & tinto, cervesa, pienk gin, tapas, café con letche en heerlike opsies elke dag op die menu del dia.

Madrid, Madrid! Ons bly in jou die stad met die engel op die toring wat sommer vinnig alle bekommernisse oor die 120 km wat oormore begin laat verdyn.

Ons pelgrimsreis begin by Tui langs die Minho rivier met Valencia Portugal aan die oorkant. Ons bly in die ou wêreld deel van Tui, drink pienk gin en kyk ‘n gratis Spaanse Danse vertoning op die kerkplein. Kyk, die Spanjaarde kan feesvier! Ons pelgrimsreis loop deur klein dorpies, plase en woude. Geen stres en geen sorge. Kort met ‘n verbygaande Buen Camino seënwens deur ‘n mede-pelgrims, ook oppad na Santiago.

Porrino, Cesantes ,Pontevedra, Cladas de Reis, Padron. Almal se voete hou! Elkeen loop sy eie innerlike en uiterlike reis.

Juweeltjies langs die pad begroept ons daagliks…. klipstapels, kerkies, simbole van pelgrimswees en natuurlik al die klein kaffeetjies waar ons pelgrims ‘n welkome ruskans, eetkans,  koffiebreuk kan neem.

Besprekings wat alles perfek en vlot verloop. Elke middag wag jou tas mooi geduldig in die hotelletjie se voorportaal. Elke warm stort en vars opgemaakte bed is daagliks ‘n lafenis wat met dankbaarheid omhels word.

Santiago o Santiago! As jy die doedelsakspeler hoor weet jy jy is naby. Dit is heilige grond hier waar menige opgewonde en dankbare pelgrims die KM 0 voor die Santiago de Compostela Bassilica begroet. Te vinnig is ons fisiese reis klaar.  Die kameras flits, pelgrims groet mekaar, sommige sit net stil en neem die oomblik in.

En nou begin ons die volgende een beplan. Want hoe waar hierdie woorde:

“Pelgrimsreise word 3 keer beleef: Wanneer jy daaroor droom, wanneer jy dit beleef en wanneer jy terugkom en onthou…”

Charlotte Werth

Erns Grundling & 16 pelgrims se Camino Ervaring

Erns Grundling het in Julie ‘n groep van 16 pelgrims vanaf Ponferrada na Santiago de Compostela begelei.

Erns vertel…
Toe ek my eerste Camino alleen gestap het in 2015, sou ek nooit kon droom dat ek ‘n paar jaar later sou terugkeer saam met ‘n groep nie. Maar die lewe is mos maar ‘n misterieuse gedoente. In Julie 2022, nadat die Covid-19 pandemie twee vorige pogings gepootjie het, het ek na Madrid gevlieg en met ‘n bus na Ponferrada gereis saam met sestien wonderlike Suid-Afrikaners – almal op pad na hulle eerste Camino. Dit was betowerend om terug te wees op hierdie antieke pelgrimstog en om die geel pyle vir elf dae en 214 km te kon volg: Van Ponferrada – die stad met sy indrukwekkende Tempeliere-kasteel – tot by die manjifieke katedraal in Santiago de Compostela, wat terloops vir die eerste keer in jare geen steierwerk by die vooraansig het nie.

Ek het van meet af met die groep ooreengekom: In die dag stap elkeen teen sy of haar eie pas, met geen druk op enige iemand om saam-saam te stap nie. Ek glo vas in die gedagte “die Camino voorsien” en dat die pelgrimstog vir elke persoon presies dit bied wat hy of sy moet ervaar. En dit kry jy slegs as jy die Camino op jou eie terme aanpak. In die aande het ons opsionele gesamentlike etes gehad by restaurante naby ons hotelle en dit was heerlik om dan as ‘n groep saam te kuier, te klankbord en mekaar se geselskap te geniet. Ek het ‘n liewe vriendin, Amanda de Klerk, se nuwe boek, “Arrows of Awareness”, gebruik as ‘n gids om meer bewustelik te stap én te leef, en die groep het dit baie betekenisvol gevind om elke oggend met ‘n spesifieke gedagte en aanhaling in die pad te val.

Ek het soveel kosbare herinneringe van my eerste Camino saam met ‘n groep: Hartlike gesprekke, verskeie lagbuie, emmersvol sweet tydens die intense hittegolf wat regoor Spanje gewoed het, pragtige en bewustelike oomblikke langs die pad, en natuurlik yskoue cerveza (bier) en liplek-lekker tortilla de patatas (omelet met aartappel)! ‘n Groot dankie vir Yolandi en haar Spaanse vennote vir die uitstekende logistiek, puik verblyf reg langs die Camino, knap bagasievervoer en 24/7 beskikbaarheid op WhatsApp – dit het ‘n enorme verskil gemaak. En ‘n hartlike dankie vir elkeen van die sestien Suid-Afrikaners wat die geel pyle saam met my gevolg het. Julle het soveel betekenis en vreugde na my derde Camino gebring. In die woorde van die Persiese digter Rumi, wat ek aangehaal het uit Amanda se boek: “We are all just walking each other home.” Kom ons maak weer so in 2023!

Sussies Lelanie & Liesl se Camino Ervaring

Op 8 April 2022 het ek en my sussie, Lani uiteindelik vertrek op ons Portuguese Camino waaraan ons al beplan sedert 2019

Wat ‘n ongelooflike ervaring was dit!!!  Ons het van die begin besluit om alleen te stap; omdat ons die tog op ons eie tyd, spoed en tempo wou aanpak.  Jy moet jou stap maatjie reg kies en mekaar baie goed ken en verstaan.  Ons sussies het vir lang ente lekker gelag en gesels; maar met die heuwels en opdraende het ons vir mekaar gesê ons gaan bietjie stil wees vir ‘n kort rukkie om asems te spaar.

Ons aanvanklike plan vir 2020 was om in Porto te begin, maar kon nie realiseer aangesien Portugal nog teen April 2022 gesluit was vir toeriste. Ons toer skop dus in Madrid af en Yolandi het ons reëlings flink aangepas.  Vandag is ons eintlik baie dankbaar dat dinge so uitgewerk het, want Madrid was ‘n belewenis!  Ons eerste aand skop af met ‘n Flamenco opvoering – regtig hoogs aan te beveel!

Dag twee sluit ‘n toer na Tolede met lekker klein toer groepie en wonderlike Engelssprekende gids. As jy die geleentheid kry om dit te doen, dis verseker ‘n moet.  Na ons 2 dae in Madrid vertrek ons na Tui per trein. Hier moet jy nogal mooi kophou, omdat die taal-beperkings ‘n taamlike ‘spanner’ in die wiel kan gooi.  Ons het eers op ‘n verkeerde trein geklim en in die teenoorgestelde rigting gery as wat ons moes; maar darem so 3 stoppe later ons fout agtergekom en toe op die regte trein geklim – LOL!!  Aangekom in Tui het ons taxi bestuurder ons per ongeluk by die verkeerde hotel afgelaai, en ons moes deur die strate van Tui stap met ons tasse agterna om ons regte hotel te kry.  Ons het gelukkig albei ‘n goeie sin vir humor; so ons het lekker gelag vir die camino opwarming wat ons so onverwags gekry het!

Tui is waarlik een van die mooiste dorpies wat ons nog gesien het en indien tyd dit sou toe laat sal ons aanbeveel om eers ‘n volle dag of twee hier te spandeer voor jy begin stap.

ROETE

Die Portuguese roete neem jou deur die pragtigste woude, paaie en straatjies.  Die roete is so veilig en ons het nooit bang gevoel nie. Die roete handleiding wat ons vooraf van Yolandi ontvang het, het alles so maklik gemaak en dit was lekker om vooraf te weet wat om te verwag.  Yolandi se reëlings t.o.v. ons tasse wat elke dag vervoer is na die volgende hotel was perfek en het alles soveel makliker gemaak.

Die eerste dag se stap vanaf Tui na Porrino was lekker vinnig en maklik; en ons het al 12 uur ons eerste glas wyn gedrink in Porrino.  Maar moenie geflous word nie – die tweede dag vanaf Porrino na Arcade is omtrent ‘n uitdaging!  Dit is wat die Camino so ongelooflik lekker maak.  Geen twee dae is dieselfde nie.  Die terrein is elke dag verskillend, die dorpies is elke keer iets anders om te beleef en die persoonlike uitdaging om deur te druk al is jy hoe moeg laat jou met die beste gevoel ooit wanneer jy by jou bestemming aankom.  Ons gunsteling dorpie was Pontevedra, dit is so mooi, jy wil net langer bly.  Met ons aankoms in Calas del Reis was ons regtig moeg en ons lywe erg seer.  Ons hotel het ‘n baie oulike spa gehad waar ons besluit het om hulle Camino Rejuvenation pakket te doen.  Vir slegs 17 euro sal ek dit vir elke stapper aanbeveel.  Dit is ‘n taamlike kort behandeling; maar jy voel soos ‘n nuwe mens wanneer jy daar uitstap.  As ek wel enige raad aan toekomstige stappers kan gee – maak seker jou tekkies is goed ingestap (ons het sommer met gewone tekkies gestap en dit het perfek gewerk) en oefen maar voor die tyd.  Jy kan nie hierdie tog aanpak as jy nie ten minste matig stap-fiks is nie.  Ons het gelukkig lank voor die tyd sommer in die buurt rondgestap en so af en toe ‘n ‘hike’ op ‘n wynplaas roete gedoen, en was baie dankbaar vir die voorbereiding en “muscle memory” opgedoen.  Ons het ook elke oggend Slow-Mag gedrink en saans ‘n spier-verslappertjie; wat baie gehelp het. Die Camino is baie sielkundig en jy besef dit eers regtig teen die 3de dag.  Jy gaan moeg raak, seer raak en hier en daar moedeloos raak; maar dit is uit en uit die moeite werd.  Daar is geen beter gevoel as om uiteindelik jou Compostela in Santiago te kry nie.  Yolandi het vir ons ‘n toer na Finnisterre gereel van Santiago, en dit is verseker iets om op jou ‘moet doen lysie’ te sit!  Ons het 2 dae in Santiago spandeer en toe na Barcelona vertrek vir so 5 dae van net toeris-toeris speel en Barcelona behoorlik te verken.

GASVRYHEID

Die inwoners van Spanje is regtig baie vriendelike mense en almal is so positief as hulle hoor jy is van Suid-Afrika.  In Madrid en in die klein dorpies is die taal beperkings nogal ‘n uitdaging; maar ons het gou ‘n paar basiese sinne baas geraak en kon ons self mooi help teen die einde.  Werk maar deur Yolandi se Spanish Survival guide vooraf; dit help verseker baie!  Die grootste uitdaging wat ons ervaar het in die klein dorpies is die feit dat hul restaurante toe maak vir siesta vanaf 15:00 tot omtrent 20:00 / 21:00 die aand.  As jy dus 3 uur in ‘n dorpie aankom en honger is; gaan jy moet sorg vir genoeg peuselhappies om jou te hou tot laat vanaand of eet verkieslik ietsie by een van die stoppe op die roete.  Dit kan ook nogal ‘n gesukkel wees om ‘n beskikbare tafel te kry by ‘n restaurant saans omdat almal vol is.  Ons het vinnig geleer om die eerste oop tafel te gryp, jy wag nie vir ‘n kelner om vir jou ‘n tafel aan te bied nie – LOL!  Ons het die kos verskriklik geniet en verlang nou nog terug na hul krokette en Albarinho wyn.

Om mee af te sluit: Yolandi en Marina was absoluut fantasties deur hierdie hele proses. Alles het seepglad verloop. Ons het terug gekeer met die wonderlikste herrinneringe wat ons vir ewig sal koester.  Ons band as sussies was nog altyd sterker as staal, maar om die Camino saam te stap het dit net nog sterker gemaak.

TIP: Ons het absolute wonderlike mede-pelgrims ontmoet; maar was so gefokus op ons stap dat dit ons ontgaan het om kontak besonderhede uit te deel.  Ons is nou spyt daaroor; so as jy iemand ontmoet en ‘n aanklank vind – ruil besonderhede uit; dit sal so lekker wees om na die tyd kontak te behou.  Yolandi is altyd net ‘n whatsapp ver; en sy het ons heeltyd bygestaan en ingeloer om te hoor of ons nog okay is; die bystand en bemoediging is fantasties! 

Die tyd vlieg so vinnig verby – geniet elke oomblik van jou Camino en neem soveel fotos as wat jy moontlik kan!!  Daar is regtig geen beter manier om die wêreld te sien en nuwe kulture te ervaar nie.  Ons beplan al reeds aan ons volgende een; die gogga byt hard!