Flights to the Camino and my first night in France

Got off the plane at Biarritz airport and went to wait for a taxi. Met (don’t quote me on this I’ve been travelling for days) Sue and Dan from Australia staying at the Ibis so we shared a taxi to Bayonne. They start tomorrow too but are taking the varcarlos route for the first day. Hopefully will see them along the way as we have a similar enough timeline. Stupidly got out of the taxi at the train station with them when I should have asked him to keep going. Then decided it wasn’t that far to walk…followed the wrong river so was going the wrong way. Asked some French ladies and they called my host Socorro and she came to get me as I was only a few mins by car.

This host is incredible. Not only did she collect me but she issued me my credential with my first stamp, gave me yoghurt and helped me prepare my things. I have a lion king duvet and fresh sheets, no sleeping bag for this girl yet! She asked me what I will have for a drink in the morning and has laid plates out for 6:45am. There is one other pilgrim staying who was asleep since I got here after 10pm. She has stayed two nights since she was exhausted, I don’t blame her for that. My idea of going out tomorrow was a bit crazy but let’s go! Better get some sleep as day one tomorrow is only 8km but it’s all straight uphill and with jetlag and a heavy pack it’s gonna be even better. Bonsoir!

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I’m on my way!! Camino here I come….

At Dunedin airport ready for the first leg of the journey. Checked in my hiking poles and a few other bits so let’s hope they meet me in Shanghai when I have to go through customs for Paris! 🤞

Feeling the nerves but also relief that the day is finally here and everything I have on me is just what is coming. No more time left to over think the packing!

Biarritz here I come! 😁

It’s the final (Camino) countdownnnn

I have one sleep left until I fly to France. ONE SLEEP. JUST ONE. Only one. Correct you read that right. Tomorrow I leave Dunedin to fly to Paris and then on to Biarritz, then take a taxi to Bayonne, stay the night, take a train in the morning to St Jean Pied de Port and then take my first step on the Camino Frances. The first step of 900km worth of steps.

IT’S ALL GO!

Basically I have just relaxed for the last few days, finalised a few things and caught up for lots of cups of tea with people I won’t see for 2 months. I had cuddles with the cutest little Harper below, how adorable is she?!!

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I also received my new work shoes in the mail, they have good grip to replace my poor old Skechers that were slip sliding me around campus on wet days. I will get dad to bring these for Post Camino travel too. You can see below who benefited from having a shoe box in the house.

Tonight I will pack my bag, make sure everything is ready for me to come home from work tomorrow and pretty much head straight to the airport. I will have takeaways with dad and call my best friend in Australia one more time for a pep talk. Tomorrow I will work until early afternoon and then bail to get my gear and head for plane number 1. Mum gave me a card before she left which I will carry with me – “I can & I will”.

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Let’s do this!

Only feeling a tiny bit (or a tonne) nervous….

6 sleeps until I fly to France

It’s been a busy week of final big hikes and preparation but I am now 6 sleeps out from my flight to Paris and Biarritz. I have 3.5 days left of work and 2 weekend days to get the last things sorted but I am feeling ready (most of the time). Other times I feel slightly like I may hyperventilate and collapse over the idea of walking from St Jean to Roncesvalles let alone 900km but as us kiwis say “she’ll be right!”

Mum and I went for our final lengthy hike before I head off. We took the Pineapple track again and it was a freezing cold wind and some rain the whole time. Beautiful Dunedin weather.

I’m gonna miss this cute little button but she’s in safe hands with my dad for a few weeks and my cousin for the month after that.

It was Anzac day here in NZ yesterday and we have a family ritual of dawn service with dad. It wasn’t as cold as it has been some years and it was as always a lovely service.

I went for a 17km walk on Anzac day since I had the day off. It was my final decent walk before I go as I am going to taper off and just walk to walk now and get a ride home. I survived well enough but afterwards my hips hurt alot from carrying my pack and my feet were hot and itchy so I soaked them in cold water for a while. Today I don’t feel any issues, hips and all muscles are fine and feet feel good so glad it wasn’t one of those “so much worse the day after” scenarios. Beautiful last walk by the harbour ♥️

Also my new shoes arrived today for work and after the Camino when traveling and are very comfy. My cat was the real winner of this though because she had a new box to sleep in 😁

11 days til take off!

Not sure if I’m not ready or more ready than I’ve ever been! 11 days until I fly to France and 13 days until I start walking from St Jean Pied de Port to Orisson. I have been waiting so long to get started and now that it’s nearly time I am terrified! Incredibly excited but seriously terrified. There’s nothing like worrying about every little thing, thinking about even getting to the starting point in one piece with my backpack in hand. I know the Camino provides but I am not there yet so do I need to wait to get there before it provides me with the ability to just put one foot in front of the other and not over think!?

Today I did another full lay out, pack and weigh ticking off all the items on my packing list. It’s heavy but I think I’m down to what I have is what I’m taking and I will just have to donate or send to Santiago whatever I don’t need once there. It’s about 8.1kg with water so I am pleased with that, I feel like I have clothing and gear for all of the good and bad days.

There’s a few other things to sort at home before I go but otherwise I’m pretty much set. Today I collected one more stone from one of my favourite places to walk. I will place this at Cruz de Ferro or Finisterre.

Now all I have to do is count down the next 11 days and keep on walking. I’ve been on a few walk with mum lately but will taper off over the week to lead up to a relaxing last few days in NZ.

I will leave you with my main motivater in life, my old friend Dr. Seuss 😊

3 weeks to go!

I’ve been walking to work in very cool weather here in Dunedin which appears to be good practice for the Camino which still has snow falling all along the way! I am hoping that it will warm up dramatically because I do not feel like I will have enough warm gear… freaking out about the fact that there’s only 3 weeks until I fly out from NZ and only 23 days until I start walking in SJPDP.

Keep calm and don’t stop walking… 😂

Camino – T minus 23 days until launch

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So we are down to 23 days until I fly to Biarritz! Time flies when you are having fun (nervous). I have moved back into dad’s place and will be leaving my cat with him for the first month until he comes to join me in Sarria, then my cousin will be house sitting for us.

I have been packing and repacking my bag like a nutter and can’t get it any lower that 8kg with water and a few snacks so at this stage that is what it will be. I know I will leave things behind on the way as it is heavy but there’s only so much pre-planning you can do before you just wing it! Below are the first trial run photos of my filled backpack and bed covered in items.

Below is the second proper trial with my clothing and shoes I will wear + backpack full of gear. It seems like so little to take and yet once you walk with it for a while it feels like a tonne and you start to consider walking the Camino with a water bottle and some peanut butter and just leave allllllllll of this other stuff behind! But some of it is needed, I will just learn in the first few days crossing the Pyrenees what I don’t need haha!

I have been sick for the last week so only did a couple of short walks through the botanic gardens with dad (his back is getting better) and then on Sunday I tackled a 12km hike with my mum through some good hills on a proper bush track. I also carried a very heavy full pack of about 10kg which made me realise I really could not carry that much weight for 900km so I hope to keep my bag at 8kg or less!

When I returned from my walk I dropped my backpack on my bed and my cat instantly claimed it as her seat. I wish I could take her with me but I am supposed to be lightening the load, not adding 4kg’s 🙂