A rough sketch of my Camino adventure

Bulls running on 7th July 2005, Consistorial S...

Bulls running on 7th July 2005, Consistorial Square, Pamplona. Image taken by Johnbojaen and uploaded on 1st september 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve spent the whole day planning my trip to Spain and let me just tell you, hole – lee – shit.  Holy shit.

The majority of the time was spent figuring out what airport to fly into.  It needed to be an international airport close to the start of the Camino, St Jean Pied de Port, France.  I googled and googled and everyone had so many different routes to take, all confusing, all Spanish sounding.  Jumping from bus to taxi to train.  I felt like an alien on this planet we call earth, no understanding of its foreign ways of traveling.

Let me point out that this is my first time planning a trip.  I went to Colombia, sure, but it was booked through an agency that told me what to do.  Colombia was peanuts – PEANUTS I tell you!

Finally I narrowed it down to Pamplona.  It was the cheapest flight I could find, close to the boarder of France, and there’s a rumor floating around the Camino forums that there’s a woman who organizes shuttles from that airport straight to the start of the Camino (no other airport offers this luxury).  However, I still need to contact the lady in charge and set my pick-up time.  I’m putting all my egg’s in her, so let’s hope it works.  Otherwise, there is always hitchhiking.  People actually said that!  To hitchhike to St Jean Pied de Port.  A single white girl from the states, not knowing any Spanish….shit Mel.  I’m a Goddamned idiot for doing this, aren’t I?

Then I realized, “Good God doesn’t the running of the bulls happen in Pamplona?”  I googled it and sure enough, there it was.  It start’s July 6, so I planned my entire trip around it.  I even bought my hotel room in Pamplona!  I had to buy it now or else I would’ve been screwed.  There’s only a meager 10 or 15 hotels left to choose from.  The cheapest was $415 for four nights which is a great deal for it not being a dorm (all hostels were already booked) and so close to the city center.  There was only one room left available and the next price up jumped to $800, so yeah, I had to snatch it up.

I’m so excited right now.  REALLY excited.  I even told my parents about it and my Dad is stoked.

Me – “I’m sweating I’m so excited!”

Dad – “You better not run with the bulls.  You know better than that I hope.”

Me – “Of course not silly, that’s crazy talk.”

Dad – “You’re going to have a great time, that I know.”

I made $400 during these last two days of work.  So what do I do?  I went to REI and got fitted for a new pack and some gear.  And I actually did my research this time!  I looked online for the best size and best pack for the camino, searched for the nearest dealer and next thing I know, I’m standing in front of Joe, the most educated pack man alive.  He was literally talking to me for a good half hour whilst I stood in front of the mirror with a pack on my back.  It had 20 pounds of weight in it and still felt light.  Joe adjusted straps up and down, blushed when he cinched a strap near my boob and talked about his own plans with attempting the 500 mile trek.

I got the woman’s Aura 50 Liter pack made by Osprey.  It’s super lightweight and perfect for the Camino (said by Joe and people on the Camino forums).  And it’s made for a woman!  The pack I used in Nepal was honestly a pack most suited for a cave man.  I was a one-man Three Stooges act every time I swung that thing on and off.  It was uncomfortable, and oh man it hurt.  But I didn’t know any better.  I thought a pack was a pack – all unisex and fits the same.  I was so wrong…

That same day I came home and searched the web for the best sleeping bag.  It has to be the lightest weight and most compact as they get.  Several people on the Camino forums suggested the GoLite Adrenaline 1-Season Sleeping Bag.  I researched and researched and finally settled on it.  Then bought a high quality poncho and some rain pants – it can rain for 15 days straight during May.

Here’s a rough draft of my trip thus far:

Leave May 15 from JFK.

Arrive in Pamplona to meet my shuttle bus to SJPP.

Arrive in St Jean Pied de Port and stay overnight.

Start the Camino May 17.

Walk for 41 days (this is a very roomy, ample time-frame I’m allotting myself.  I love old architecture and don’t want to miss a thing while I’m there).

Arrive in Santiago June 26 and stay 2 nights.

Hitch a flight to Madrid and stay for 3 nights.

Leave Madrid July 1st for Barcelona (taking plane).

Stay 3 nights.

Leave Barcelona July 4th by train to end my trip at Pamplona to watch or participate in the running of the bulls.  And stay for the bull fight and festivities.

My plane leaves from there, the day after encierro, July 8th.

The entire cost of the trip including hotels (thanks to Booking.com), planes, trains, $30 a day on Camino – everything will cost $3,152.

This total doesn’t include food and activities while staying in Santiago, Madrid, Barcelona and Pamplona.  So that leaves me with 12 days of food and fun not tallied into the grand total.

And guess how much I have saved specifically for the trip?  $3,000!  It’s all in cash tucked away safe in a secure hiding spot.  Tomorrow I have to deposit it so I can book my other hotels and flights.

It’s like….perfect.  You know what I mean?  It all seems so easy.  I’ve spent the whole day planning, but now it’s like, so plainly laid out in front of me.  I don’t understand how the Angry Orchestra of Melanie Haters can complain about planning trips while I sit back and relax – planning is freaking fun!  And it’s not even that difficult.  I’m planning a 7 week adventure like slicing through pie, while the Haters complained about all the work it entails.  I don’t get it.

HOLE – LEE – CRAP I’m actually doing this.

I’m going through bursts of hysteria – utterly unable to contain myself, sprouting fits of joy and loud boisterous rabble to anyone who’ll listen.  But then put me in my bedroom, all quiet and alone, and my heart sinks in my chest and I wonder why I’m doing this.  Why am I doing this?  It’s a dumb idea.  Amy would say it’s dumb and all a waste, my mother would agree with her.  The Melanie Hater’s would all assume I’d be coming home in a casket (that got lost and ended up in iceland somehow).  But my Dad and Brother applaud my venturous escape into the unknown.  All the backpacking blogs I read, all the travelers journals get me excited – unbelievably excited.

There’s so much I want to write.  I haven’t even grazed the surface.  But it’s late and I need to put the blog down or surrender myself to insomnia.

Buen Camino!

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Filed under humor, Travel

12 responses to “A rough sketch of my Camino adventure

  1. good luck with your trip. my husband and I travelled the camino in sept and oct 2012 – it was amazing. travel light, take less than you think you need! prepare for the snorers, and try to learn some spanish phrases before you go.
    we met several women, between the ages of 20 and 70 travelling alone, they told us they felt safe, and never had any trouble.
    spain is beautiful, and I am sure it will be a trip of a life time!

    • That’s fantastic I can’t wait! They say the pilgrimage starts the minute you decide to embark on it and everything that’s happened to me between then and now has shaped me into a person who is emotionally and physically ready. I just need to learn some phrases and I’m good to go 🙂

  2. You’ll have a great time…starting out in the Pays Basque (Pais Vasco) with an ethnic origin quite different to the rest of Europe and a language so old know one really knows where it came from…so don’t be surprised to hear the odd “egun on” (pronounced “egg-un uoone”) from local walkers ambling along the same route as you… Buen camino…

  3. Pingback: Rough day Mel? Yeah, rough day friend | melanie's blog

  4. Good luck and have fun Melanie with your Camino trip. Remember you can couchsurf to cut some costs while traveling and it’s a great way to meet the locals; and there is also airbnb, a very good alternative to staying in hotels. Keep us posted on the Camino adventure!

    • I’ll definitely keep posting here during my adventure. I’m thinking it would be easiest to make video posts because I’ll be too tired to write and probably won’t have much privacy to write, so video it must be. I never heard of airbnb before, I’ll look into it. Thanks for keeping up with reading my life online 🙂

      • Well,I remember that post of yours about the Nepal trekking which revealed your sense of humour and talent in writing! In fact you should check out this British comedienne, Miranda Hart, as your self deprecating humour reminds me in some ways of hers:) check her out:

        PS: I think I’m signed on to ‘follow’ you, but this update on the Camino is the first one I’ve had since Nepal (though I then found and read your Columbian adventure… pretty cool too)

      • Omg she’s funny. I never seen that show before.

        Thanks for all the lovely compliments. See, I knew my blog would pay off someday!

        I totally sing karaoke by myself! Lol bollox.

        In real life, away from my blog, people still laugh at me. I’m only being myself and being honest, and they laugh at me.

        That follow button can be tricky because there are two of them. There’s a follow button on top of the page that you click on so my posts are seen only in the wordpress reader. You have to sign up to wordpress for that. And the follow button I made at the bottom of the screen that reads Free Spam for All, is where you get the email updates.

        There is yet another follow button I forgot about and that’s for comments. If you want to keep tract of a thread of comments coming into one particular post, you get updates.

        I rarely sign up for email updates because they clog up my mailbox and I never have time to read them. However, if it’s an awesome amazing blogger that I can totally relate to, then I sign up for their emails.

        Later Gator

  5. Ava

    Sounds fantastic! You are so much more adventurous than I am…could never get away long enough to do the whole thing…drat those pesky kids! But sending you good vibes and hopes that perhaps our paths will still cross some day, some how! Loved Spain, went there last year..Barcelona, then a few ports around until I reached Lisbon. Get some Spanish phrases under your belt, you’ll be glad you did! I will check in now and then. I know you want to wander at your own pace but do you have “markers” as in locations on the pilgrimage you will be arriving on specific dates? Very excited for you!

    • Nope, no markers yet. The only markers I have is that I need to be in Santiago by June 26. Once in Santiago, I’ll have markers for the other cities and exactly where I’m staying and when I need to leave. But as for the Camino, it’s a free for all right now. I’ll need to set up my markers for that eventually. They will act as a loose guideline so I stay on schedule. I’m allotting myself more than enough time to complete it, I can even get away with taking Sundays off to rest my feet.

      Our paths will meet eventually. Let me know if you’re ever interested in doing ayahuasca. I’m not a drug pusher (please don’t think that), but after Spain I will like to go back to Colombia to experience it again. Ayahuasca so far has been the most profound and meaningful experience of my life.

  6. Pingback: The Church of Portal of San Juan Bautista_Obanos Spain, along the Camino to Santiago de Compostella | jmeyersforeman photography

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