First We Walked, Then We Played

Meditations in Motion

We have returned from our peregrinations in Spain, Bill and I, and are still adjusting to the six-hour time difference. I find myself taking a lot of naps lately, but one benefit of traveling from east to west is that I am once again rising early, ready to take on the day while it is still young.

Our travels in Spain were divided into two distinct parts: the pilgrimage on El Camino de Santiago de Compostela and exploring Barcelona and its surroundings.

Meditations in MotionBefore we researched our Spanish trip, I had only a vague concept of Spanish geography. Sarria, the town where we began walking, is located in Northwestern Spain, in an autonomous region called Galicia.

Galicia has two official languages, Galician, which is closely related to Portuguese, and Spanish. Both were featured on menus and street signs. Bill and I speak solo un poco de Espanol and no Galician, but we do know how to use Google Translate, so we were fine.

There are many different ways to walk the Camino. Bill and I chose to stay in hotels and have our luggage transported for us, which is the cushiest way to go. We could have opted to stay in albuerges (hostels) and carried our belongings in a backpack.

We walked the final 117 km. of the Camino, which took us a week. To walk the entire path would take over a month.

Meditations in Motion

On a typical Camino day, we would rise before sunrise, take our bags to the lobby of our hotel for transport, then have breakfast. Rising before sunrise is not as impressive as it sounds: sunrise in Northwest Spain in late September is not until 8:20.

After a hearty breakfast, we would put a few belongings into our day packs and begin walking. Our daily mileage varied since we walked from one town to the next, but the range was between 17 and 9 miles per day.

 

Meditations in Motion
Traffic jam on the Camino

 

Before our trip. I heard some people talking about hiking the Camino. I think using the term “hiking” is somewhat misleading. You “hike” the rugged Appalachian Trail; you “walk” the Camino.

The Camino consists of various types of paths. At times it is a dirt trail through the forest, at other times a farm lane. Sometimes we found ourselves on a lightly-traveled paved country road, occasionally we walked on a flat dusty path beside a highway.

Meditations in Motion

When we got close to our destination for the evening, usually early in the afternoon, we would stop at one of the many small cafes found along the Camino and get a bite to eat and a glass of wine. The sandwiches pictured above contained homemade goat cheese, frizzled onions, honey and dijon mustard on a delicious fresh whole wheat roll.

After lunch, we would continue into town, find our hotel, take a nap and a shower, then head out to explore and find a place for dinner. We tried to eat dinner as soon as the restaurants opened, at 8:00 p.m.

We usually ordered from the menu, but many restaurants had a special “Pilgrim’s Menu“, which we tried once. The Pilgrim’s menu for two of us consisted of two appetizers (mussels with tomato sauce and an empanada), two main courses (chicken and rice in a tomato sauce and ham and potatoes), two desserts (flan and cake) and a bottle of wine for 20 Euros (about $22), including tax and tip. Yes, that’s dinner for two including a bottle of wine for $22.

After dinner, we would walk back to our hotel and get ready for bed.

The next day we would do it all over again.

That’s one of the beautiful things about the Camino: we knew what we were doing every day. No decisions to be made. We were walking.

We met people from all over the world on the Camino. Without exception, everyone was friendly and ready to chat.

Meditations in MotionPilgrims walking the Camino are often on an interior journey as well as the obvious physical trek. Removing the constant need for decision making that imbues our everyday lives is an excellent precursor to mindfulness. The quiet, peaceful nature of the trail promotes reflection.

I was able to do some good thinking along the path to Santiago. Some of those thoughts will undoubtedly make it into my writing in this space; some of my thoughts will remain private.

Meditations in Motion

The destination of pilgrims on the Camino is the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela where the remains of Saint James are said to lie. The gorgeous cathedral, built in the thirteenth century, sits on the south side of Obradoiro Square in the center of the city.

Pilgrims of all ages and nationalities stand, sit, and lie in the square. Many of them have a stunned, uneasy appearance. It is almost as though, after walking for a week or a month, they are unsure what to do next, now that they need to begin making decisions again.

Meditations in Motion

Luckily,Β  Bill and I knew what our next step would be – we traveled across Spain to sunny Barcelona.

We absolutely loved this beautiful city in the province of Catalonia. It was the perfect way to end our time in Spain. We visited one-of-a-kind buildings designed by the twentieth-century architect Antoni Gaudi, including the still-unfinished cathedral La Sagrada Familia. We ate wonderful tapas, drank delicious Tempranillo, visited the thousand-year-old monastery at Montserrat, and walked on a beach beside the dazzling blue Mediterranean.

It was the perfect way to end our trip.

Now, upon our return home, we face the reality of marathon training.

My training log shows almost 80 miles during the first week we were in Spain – all of it walking. The second week shows a grand total of zero. One month from a marathon.

Our final long run will have to wait, however, because we are traveling again this week. We were home just long enough to do some laundry and repack our suitcases. We are now at a South Carolina beach house with eight of our closest friends.

Shouldn’t be a problem, right?

 

I am linking up with Running on the Fly and Confessions of a Mother Runner for their Weekly Rundown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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80 comments

  1. What a splendid adventure you both enjoyed, Laurie! I know the walking doesn’t equate to marathon training, but at least you got some exercise while in Spain. Enjoy your time in South Carolina with your friends, and as an aside, you can always go running along the beach. πŸ™‚
    Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it really was an adventure, Martha. We really enjoyed our time in Spain! I think actually since I am running my marathon with a 78-year-old friend, walking long distances will be good training. I think large parts of the marathon will be walked. Thank you!

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  2. What a fabulous trip!! ((marathon training be damned LOL) That would be great…all that hiking without having to think about ANY of it while it’s happening. That’s the strategy I have tried to use for most of my long runs with this MCM cycle (since a lot of those runs have been done solo this time around). It’s is SO much more enjoyable to just run (or, in your case, hike) and just be in the moment.

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    • It really was a fabulous trip! What an adventure!!! I think in my case, hiking might have been good training for MCM since I will be running with my 78-year-old friend in the race. I think he will be doing a lot of walking.

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  3. Hope South Carolina is a blast….
    and enjoyed learning more about the Camino walk
    The pics and hearing how much thinking time you have – as well as conversation – oh so enriching

    And did you ever worry your belongings would be lost in transport? I wonder if they lose items like airports do?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really never worried about losing some of my items. I didn’t have any valuables in my luggage – just my clothes. We packed very light. The Camino was such a wonderful adventure and such a great time for reflection/meditation. I would recommend it to anyone.

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  4. What an amazing vacation! How did you find out about the Camino pilgrimage? And is the pilgrimage a personal journey or is everyone walking towards something (like the Muslims do with Mecca)?

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    • It really was amazing! I first heard about the Camino years ago from the lifeguard who works at the rec center where I swim. She walked it with her daughter. Then some of my friends walked it more recently. On this pilgrimage, everyone is walking toward the cathedral in Santiago where the remains of Saint James the Apostle are said to be buried.

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  5. Heck, I’d trade traveling for training. Oh wait, I’m not training. πŸ™‚

    Thank you for the recap! You know, that actually sounds like something Mr. Judy *might* be able to do, since it’s not really hiking. Although walking 17 miles would kill him. Heck, I’m pretty sure I’d be sore doing that too. But still . . .

    Enjoy your time in South Carolina & your friends. Hopefully you’ll get a run or two in. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope you get to do something like it, Judy. If you are willing to stay at albuerges, you could walk much less than 17 miles/day. I encountered many people who just walked until they felt like they were ready to stop – noon, 1:00, 2:00…whenever they had had enough. There are places to stay every few miles. It was awesome.

      We have been running in SC, but no long runs yet!

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  6. THIS is where you have been! I am envious of this trip!! When I retire, my plan is to walk the entire thing….I cannot WAIT. Have fun in SC – do some good running on the beach!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would love to go back and walk more of the Camino at some point. I think you will really enjoy it. I have been running in SC, but not on the beach! πŸ™‚

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  7. Amazing vacation. Just amazing. I was in Spain during college but not back since.

    I like the way you think. No stressing about marathon.

    And you do fine I’m sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Spain is on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing so much of your travels on the blog!
    Wow! 80 miles while in Spain?! That’s awesome. I don’t think you realize how much you walk when traveling new places.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think that would be the way I’d do the Camino. I have friends who took their belongs along with them on their backs, but sheesh, why bother (other than bragging rights, I guess)? I’m glad to know that you loved Barcelona. I’ve always wanted to go, but I’ve been reading horror stories about the crowds. I hope you share more about that part of your trip.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have friends who hiked with backpacks too, but Bill and I just felt we would have a better time this way. I will share more about Barcelona. We stayed in a quiet but lively neighborhood near the Arc de Triomf. Lots of little bars and restaurants. The crowds downtown could be a little bit overwhelming, but we are not big shoppers, so we didn’t have to go downtown too often.

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  10. Welcome back. What a great recap. I think I said this when you first mentioned this trip, but I wanted to do el Camino for years. It’s not going to happen, but I love reading about it
    I think hiking comes two-fold; a semi-accurate translation of the trek. M eaning not the English trek (ala Appalachian Trail) but rather the overall journey. And that before it was somewhat graded, it was more of a hike, although without the altitude of the AT

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a wonderful trip! I would love to do that. I know very little about Spain. I had a friend who walked the Camino two years ago and she has inspired me to do it one day. It sounds fabulous. Hope your jet lag will disappear quickly.

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  12. What an adventure and I for one love your “cushier” version! My husband and I once did about 120 km of the Bibbulmun Trek in Western Australia. We took a week but at every stop we had to pitch a tent and often used wet wipes to clean ourselves after 8 – 10 hours of walking/hiking, LOL! But so much reflection went on, sometimes just in the quiet of our own minds, and sometimes through discussions. I would do it again, but with nicer sleeping options!

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    • That trek sounds amazing! I am not a camper, so I don’t think I could tackle it, but I am sure you got a lot of peace and quiet. Just the relief of not having to decide what to do with our time was freeing.

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  13. I walked for many wondrous hours
    along the pilgrim path,
    beset by mud and thunder-showers,
    and now I need a bath.
    I thought I would emerge enlightened,
    achiever of satori,
    but feet grew sore and hamstrings tightened,
    and I saw another story.
    Nirvana came wrapped in pain,
    and revelation in tired bones.
    The body’s outcry shut down brain,
    and I found that I was not alone.
    From He who walked the Cross’ stations
    I found journey to be destination.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What a beautiful and poignant poem, Andrew! It perfectly describes the pilgrim experience. We do have no right to complain when we are tired and sore. Christ was there before us and walks every step of the way with us still.

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  14. I loved reading about your trip Laurie – you and Bill had no trouble walking all those miles after I kept saying to you “I know you both run every day but can you walk all those miles too?” How refreshing to just walk, meditate and think of nothing but deep thoughts and perhaps if you’d have goat cheese on a roll for lunch and a peasant dinner for two that evening? And unplugged from social media to boot made it all the more tranquil. I like that picture on the trail with the mistiness. What a fabulous time and a lot of memories as well. And now you’re at the beach with friends (albeit in the rain unless it has stopped by now). You and Bill do have the perfect life, even if you must push yourselves to be ready for the marathon.

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    • You know what is funny, Linda? After the first 2 days of walking, my legs were so stiff and sore. We use different muscles for walking and running. I should have trained more for walking! We do have a wonderful life (I don’t think it is perfect) and I am grateful for all of our many blessings!

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      • Laurie – so I kinda/sorta was right after all! The reason I said that you needed to bulk up on walking before the trip was because the first or second year I was walking, by Fall I was up to about 4-5 miles on the weekend with no issues. On a beautiful Fall day I came home from my regular walk and decided to extend it another 3 miles. I came home feeling great and wondering why I never extended my walk like that before. The next day I paid the price for overindulgence – shin splints so bad I was out of commission a good week and had to start out slowly again to not overexert my legs. You and Bill obviously worked through the pain – you weren’t going to ruin part one of your vacation. I have done the same thing when doing a large grocery shopping and schlepping bags of groceries downstairs to put on shelves in the pantry later. The next day I could not go down the stairs at all, let along walk … now I just leave the bags upstairs (very messy I know) and take a few at a time. Our bodies are amazing – you are obviously in much better shape than I am due to long-distance running, but as you say … different muscles. The day I went up/down the steep lighthouse stairs, my legs felt wobbly – I really should have asked someone to walk the 50 feet to shore because there was no guard rail and the Detroit River was there and I can’t swim! But pride and the fact that everyone on that tour was at least 20 years my senior kept me from admitting to my wobbly legs – I asked a few people if they felt wobbly – nope. Yikes!

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      • Yes, you were absolutely right, Linda. I should have done more walking before our Camino. I am doing a lot of walking down at the beach as well as running. The friend who I am running the marathon with is here at the beach with me, so we are practicing walking at the pace we believe our 78-year-old friend will need to maintain in order to finish the marathon before the time cut off. I think the pain I felt in Spain was shin splints also, but they were fortunately not debilitating.

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      • Glad you’ll get a little of both in ahead of the marathon. I was walking on City sidewalks after walking in the neighborhood and the path at the park – perhaps the cement is worst. At least you did not give in – you could have caught up later, but it would have denied you the whole experience.

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      • We did a good fast walk yesterday. I feel better about the marathon now. We are trying to maintain a 15:00 min/mile pace and we easily did that for 8 miles. Now we will see if we can do it for 26!

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      • You are awesome getting all this walking/running in Laurie. We’ve had such a great weather week – another morning when I hated to come into the house for work. I’ve been getting back later and later as it stays dark so long in the a.m. I’ve gotten 5 miles in each morning … really pushing myself to get to my goal. Mike Posner tweeted he got 30 miles walked yesterday – you guys are amazing and leave me in the dust!

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      • Thanks Laurie – I made the best of this week, walking five miles every morning then the bottom dropped out this afternoon. We have a storm rolling in shortly and it goes downhill from there (or so they say).

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  15. oh wow Laurie – I have wanted to do El Camino for years, like Cari; I have friends who have done it a few times now. It is truly a special journey. Glad you enjoyed it and relaxed a bit in Barcelona as well. I love spain; the people, the food, the rich cultures within the country itself. Really lovely.

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    • I hope you get to do it, Renee! It was wonderful. I really liked our itinerary – hike first, then visit Barcelona. Barcelona was absolutely fabulous – it was alike a celebration of completing the walk. I am now in love with Spain too!

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  16. I am in awe! Another acquaintance of mine just did this and it was truly amazing to see her journey as she posted about it on FB.l I love that you did it together (her husband did not join her on the walk). I see the benefits of doing it alone, but also love the intimacy of sharing something so very epic.

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    • Yes, there were a lot of women walking the Camino alone or with a group of other women. I would be completely comfortable with walking the Camino alone (for safety considerations), while I would never hike the Appalachian Trail as a lone woman. Hubs and I had a great time together.

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  17. Just a couple of days ago, I ran into an old friend who just walked the “last part” of the Camino in September. Maybe you met her ?? Her name is Ann M and she lives in Pacifica, CA ~ she was traveling with 2 other women. Ha ha, I know it’s a long shot, but one never knows πŸ™‚ My friend Ann also did some sightseeing too, on the front end. The airlines lost her luggage and she had to pull together some last minute items. She never got her luggage until she returned home, and I don’t know what airlines she used. Of course, such a mishap didn’t deter her. She GLOWED when she spoke about the Camino.

    She just exuded awe while singing the praises of the Camino. She talked about the Church at the end of the Camino, with people from all over the world, tears streaming down their faces.

    She had her bags delivered to her overnight boarding spot each day so all she took was a small pack – the overnight dwelling was communal so I’m assuming it was a hostel like setting, and her trip included breakfast and dinner. Every evening she and her companions couldn’t wait for their Sangria moment and then they would collapse with fatigue. They were happy, satiated, peaceful, grateful, and loving each moment.

    It sounds so very spiritually uplifting and life changing.

    I love the photo of the pilgrims going off into the mist. What a photographic metaphor! Each morning we wake up and go off “into the mist”; we don’t always know what the good Lord has in store for us. It takes trust and faith to that make the journey of life every single day.

    Perhaps one of these days, I’ll walk the last leg of the Camino (that sounds like a do-able approach) with my sister who has expressed keen interest.

    What a great trip!

    Susan Grace

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    • It really was an amazing life-changing trip. I don’t remember meeting anyone named Ann from California, but we did meet a lot of wonderful, interesting people on our walk. We would have been walking at the same time at the same place, but there were a lot of pilgrims there.

      Luckily, we did not check any luggage. My hubby and I packed all of our clothes for a 2-week trip in a small carry-on plus a backpack. I really had to pare down, but it was good that we didn’t have to worry about checked luggage.

      I hope you and your sister do walk the Camino. There were many more women than men pilgrims. Lots of groups of friends and maybe sisters there! πŸ™‚

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  18. Please indulge me and allow me to make just one more comment, hee hee. I saw some readers above comment about walking more (vs running) as training for the Camino. I’m a big walker although 4-6 miles is my normal and limit these days (I could do more but choose not to right now). I don’t do anything less than 3 miles any more and I try to do something every day or every other day. Perhaps, in some secret way, I’m being trained to walk the Camino and I don’t know it yet πŸ˜‰

    I suppose if I ever am fortunate enough to become a pilgrim on the Camino, I’ll need to add extra mileage to my walking workouts.

    Susan Grace

    Liked by 1 person

    • Always happy to see a comment from you, Susan! Your walking regimen sounds great! I hope you do get to walk the Camino at some point. I think you would enjoy it. You would not have much training you would have to do before you started.

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  19. Wow! I am adding this trip to my bucket list – I’ve never heard of it but the concept fascinates me! Good luck on the marathon training as well. You are probably well trained to be on your feet for a marathon time despite not actually running the miles.

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  20. Hi Laurie, a recently a fellow blogger shared a link to your blog and here I am. I’m eternally glad ‘Linda’ shared the post with me.
    I have been struggling to walk normally after surviving three ankle ligament tears. It’s been a year since I ran and I don’t even know whether I will be able to run again.
    Your story is so inspiring it gives me new found strength. Hopefully I will be able to walk and travel again and explore places….maybe someday in far far future would complete a Camino walk too. πŸ™‚πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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