After overnighting in Santiago we took a coach to Ferrol where we spent a couple of nights before departing on our first stretch of The Camino. I'd recommend spending a day here before starting your trek as it's a nice city worth sampling before heading on your way. When you sign up to walk a stage or all of The Way you are issued with a Pilgrim Passport which you need to get stamped at each of the places you stay. You need to get two stamps a day and as most of the cafes along your route will have their own stamp you'll find that this isn't hard at all.
|The marina at Ferrol|
Before starting I was a bit anxious about getting lost along our route and had a full copy of the route instructions issues by our travel company. We quickly discovered that at least on the Camino Inglés you don't have to worry as the signage along the way was brilliant. All along your route you'll see either a yellow arrow or both it and the Scallop tile, the logo of The Camino, as you see below.
|Happy faces leaving Ferrol|
As this was our first experience of The Camino and we didn't feel the need to suffer we booked the option of having our luggage picked up each morning and transferred to our accommodation for that evening. This worked like a dream and meant that all we had to carry was our day pack and not worry about any unneeded additional weight. The other recommendation is to purchase some walking poles. If you've not used them before they may feel a little odd and not necessary but trust me, midway through the first day we were using ours and they stayed in use until we reached Santiago.
Our first days walking was in many ways the hardest. It was the longest, not the steepest but perhaps the most challenging because of the unknown. What we quickly learnt was:
- As mentioned finding our way wouldn't be a problem,
- Using your walking poles really helps
- It's not a race, taking your time and enjoying the walking is what the whole experience is about
- That every time a local or a fellow walker says 'Buen Camino' it makes you feel great
- When you arrive at your destination, down tools and enjoy a drink was you've really earned it!
One of the many great thinks about walking The Camino is the feeling of camaraderie, everyone is there for the same purpose so there is a real sense of community and fun along the way. You also meet a great diversity of people in terms of nationality, age and background which makes for some interesting conversations along the way. For some reason you keep bumping into the same people which helps build relationships and banter as you walk.
One of the other things I loved about the experience was enjoying the great food, some hearty and huge sandwiches for lunch and some tasty meals in the evening. Having walked for between 4 and 6 hours during the course of the day, there is no need to feel guilty as you've earned it.
Our last days walking was the shortest of the five at just over 20kms. Despite that I was happy so see the city of Santiago de Compostela approaching as I had a huge blister on my right sole which wasn't going away. The close you get to the city you start to feel the emotion of what you've experienced, what you've done and achieved building inside you. Arriving in the main square is an unforgettable experience, you need to take the time to enjoy the moment and everything that is going on around you. It truly is unforgettable and we plan to return to walk another stage of The Camino and hopefully one day all of it.
|We did it!|