Camino Lingo

Yo hablo solo un poco de español. The major part of my preparations for the Camino de Santiago have been physical training and acquiring gear. But to help make the journey even better, I’ve been trying to learn at least a little Spanish. Occasionally using the DuoLingo app is helpful…that is, if you remember to use it regularly. I’ll be downloading a ‘Spanish on tape’ book to take with me while I walk. I’ll have plenty of time, so why not try learn something new along the way? 🙂

A few months ago I saw that one of the local American Pilgrims was offering to teach a Spanish class. He is a retired Spanish teacher with Camino experience and the class would be geared toward words and phrases that would be helpful when walking.


It’s a six week course and is based off the material in the book Camino Lingo. As they speak Castilian along The Way, we’re getting used to pronouncing words with a TH sound. Each week, a handful of us sit around our instructor’s table working on the next chapter from the book. We take a break for refreshments and talk of our upcoming treks. Last night even included a homemade Tarte de Santiago. Very tasty!


At the end of each class, we sing songs commonly sung in Alburgues along the Camino. While my Spanish is still very limited, these classes have been a great experience and a big help in my preparations.

Reporting live.

This is my first test post out in the “field.” I got the WordPress app for my phone and needed to test it out. So where better than from the top of a mountain!

I took the Cable Line hike up Tiger Mountain. This hike got all too familiar with back when I was training to climb Mt. Rainier. It’s a great training hike because it’s close to Seattle and provides just over 2000 feet elevation gain in just 3 miles round trip. Let’s just say, that’s pretty steep!

I’m hoping to get at least a few more hikes in along with several long urban walks before I leave for the Camino. Can’t believe it’s just over a month away now!

Well, time to head back down the mountain!

It’s all about the preparation.

There are a lot of things I’ve done or am doing to get ready for my Camino walk. Though I know no how much I prepare, there will be things that come up that I haven’t thought of along the way. There will be aches and pains I never thought possible. There will be bad weather and hopefully even more good.


I spent the last few years learning everything I could about the Camino. Sure, I heard about it and knew I wanted to do it “someday.” But when the realization that I didn’t have to wait until I retired came, I had to get more serious. What would it take to do something like this? How many days should the French route take me? How much do I need to save for it? What kind of training should I do?


There are countless online sources for the Camino. Informational websites, forums, maps, etc. Many people have written books on the Camino – from personal experience stories to day by day guides. The local American Pilgrims group has a website, hosts regular walks with experienced pilgrims and those planning for their pilgrimage. They also host annual talks at the local REI where various speakers give you the quick how-to on planning your journey. Since my friend/coworker Jenn and I both wanted to walk the Camino, we attended these REI talks and a couple walks with the Pilgrims group. Add the fact that Jenn completed the Camino last year and other friends had their own experiences walking, I’ve had access to some very helpful information.

Booking Travel

Because I’m addicted to the Alaska Airlines mileage program, I do whatever I can to acquire miles. Mostly I travel to acquire more miles to earn “free” travel. So that trip to Hawaii and that trip to Nashville last Fall helped put my accrued miles over the edge of getting a “free” trip. So it wasn’t exactly free, but when it came time to book my flights for this trip, I used about 60k miles and $200 dollars. Flying into Paris and out of London – which means I get to visit two major cities I’ve always wanted to visit!

Then I had to figure out a plan to get from Paris to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port. So a flight was booked from Paris to Biarritz. Then I get to take a bus to Bayonne. Then a train to somewhere else and then a bus to St-Jean. I think. 🙂 Still working on the final plans.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 9.13.41 PM

I have yet to figure out how I’m getting from Santiago to London. Since I don’t know what day I’m finishing the Camino, I can’t make firm plans just yet. If I get done quickly, I might want to visit Portugal after. If I don’t, I might need to head straight to London. I guess I’ll figure this out on the way.

My Lists

A couple months ago I started a list of the things I need or think I’ll need for the Camino. These are the things I’ll be wearing or carrying in my backpack. I’ve slowly been acquiring these items over the last several months. A backpack, sleeping bag, poncho, new shoes, etc. More recently, I’ve started a list of the things I need to organize before I go. Bills still have to get paid, my plant still needs water and my fish still needs food. So I’ve been making plans for my Seattle logistics while I’m away.



Walking, then walking some more. I’ve been doing a lot of walking and trying to get hikes in whenever I can. I’ll be stepping this up even more than I already have over the next month. Carrying more and more weight in my pack as I go. I walked 22 miles over the weekend and am still feeling good today, so hopefully I’m on the right track.


Walking 500 Miles

The dates are set. Flights are booked. Most of the gear has been purchased. Now it’s time to start walking to train for…walking. At the end of May I’ll start a journey that will fill in a major checkbox on my bucket list. Ever since I first heard about El Camino de Santiago, I’ve wanted to walk it. I’ve often thought the best way to see the world is on foot. So this pilgrimage is a perfect fit for me.

I have a job that I love and with that job I’ve been given some amazing benefits. One includes a 4 week sabbatical. The moment this was announced to the company, I knew the Camino de Santiago was one of my top options for my first sabbatical. I’ll be adding an additional two weeks on to that sabbatical for my journey. This will be the longest “vacation” I’ve had since summer breaks in college. Though I love my job, it will be nice to step away and clear my head for a bit.

El Camino de Santiago

Also known as The Way of St. James, the Camino is a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. There’s an extensive trail system all over Europe that leads to Santiago. You can walk for as little as a week, or for several months depending on where you start from.

camino map1

I will be walking the Camino Frances (The French Way). This is the most popular route. I will start in St-Jean Pied de Port on the French side of the Pyrenees mountains and walk the 790 km (490 miles) to Santiago. You may know about this popular route through the Martin Sheen movie The Way.

Camino map

I’ll begin walking on May 25th and will need to find my way from Spain to London by July 1st. So that gives me up to 37 days to walk the 790 km. Many people average the walk in 30-35 days by walking about 15 miles a day. So that will be my goal.

I’m a pretty active person, averaging about 5+ miles of walking a day, going for runs, playing soccer or kickball, swimming, hiking, etc. But this will surely be a new challenge for my body. I’ll be carrying everything I need for the journey in my backpack.

I’ll be in a country where I don’t really speak the language and sharing sleeping quarters with people from all over the world and likely wearing basically the same clothes for 30+ days straight. It will be an adventure of a lifetime!

I’m hoping to be able to use this blog to share my journey. So welcome to my adventure!