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 🙂

Pineapple Track

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View over Dunedin from the Pineapple track

On Saturday I moved into dad’s house in the lead up to the Camino as my rental was being sold by the owners anyway so this will help me save a bit more in the next few weeks. My cat will also be living there while I am away so I wanted to get her settled in and my dad is on the improve but it’s nice to be there to help him out while his back is still an issue. So on Saturday morning I got up and packed up the remainder of my belongings which turned out to be a tonne more than I thought since I had already moved full car load of stuff when we started having open homes….I have come to terms with my being a hoarder. My brother was down for the weekend from Wellington so he helped me haul it all up the stairs, then we had a chill Saturday night as I decided to sort it all out later!

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As you can see Bug was just inconsolable about being moved to a new house with more people to pat her…

On Sunday morning I met up with mum and we went to walk the Pineapple track. The reason for the name is that in the 1920s a local grocer guided people up the track and provided a snack of tinned pineapple for the hikers when they rested at the top of a steep section. They would often leave the tins hanging on trees or fences. This walk has beautiful views across the city but most importantly includes some hills!!! Which I am not a fan of but must start to work at before tackling the Pyrenees mountains arghhhhh.

The bottom photo is of mum walking through all the flax and tussock plants as she wanted us to go cross country, was fun and really good resistance for the legs! We got back to the other track and continued on back to the car. Once back at her house we had some lunch and a spa and then went into town for a look at a few shops. I bought some dry bags and a neck/crossbody pouch for my passport and money on the Camino. Please don’t let me buy anything else, I have spent so much money for this trip already!

I went back to dads and sorted out all my stuff then had a relaxed night with the family. I think my dad is now best friends with my cat despite his comments about not wanting animals in the house as he keeps sending me photos of her being cuddly with him.

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Camino Frances Packing List 2018 (version 1)

So being the organised person that I am I have created an excel spreadsheet with possible items and their approximate weights to take on my Spring Camino. I am going to list these items below so please feel free to provide feedback on what worked for you and what you think is essential/not needed. There are definitely things that could be removed, it is just hard to know right now and I still need to buy a couple of things then do a full pack of my bag to check the weight. The list below adds up to somewhere between 7 – 8 kilograms without water and without one outfit and shoes…. heavier than I would like but you will need disregard the 10% rule for now as I am very tall and also not a skinny minny so carrying 10% of my weight would be too much, I would like it to be about 7.5kg with water! I’ll keep you all updated.

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My pack and day pack when I went to Egypt

To wear:

(I made the assumption that it will be an OK temperature and left out warm layers) these were excluded from weighing:

  • Macpac travel lite shirt
  • Lulu lemon leggings
  • Quickdry Singlet
  • Bra
  • Briefs
  • Kathmandu hiking socks
  • Macpac sports socks (goes under hiking socks)
  • Trail shoes (Adidas Terrex Goretex sneakers)

Clothing:

  • Kathmandu andulo rain jacket
  • Macpac fleece
  • Lulu lemon long sleeve top
  • Kmart long sleeve top
  • Lulu lemon legging
  • Macpac merino leggings (for evening and sleep)
  • Quick dry singlet
  • Kathmandu hiking socks
  • Macpac sports socks (goes under hiking socks)
  • Bra
  • 3 x briefs
  • 1 crop top bra for evening time and sleep
  • Buff
  • Beanue
  • Gloves
  • Sunhat
  • Scarf
  • Teva Tirra Sandals (alternate walking shoes and evening shoes – could shower in these as I am not a fan of Jandals AKA flip flops)

Gear:

  • Osprey Stratos 36L pack
  • Kathmandu lightweight comet sleeping bag
  • Pillowcase
  • Kathmandu ultralight day pack (for afternoon/evenings out or to use if need to send big pack ahead for the day)
  • Kmart quick dry towel
  • Headlamp
  • Hiking poles
  • Water bottle
  • Platypus flat bottle + drink tube
  • Rain gaiters (still to be buy – not taking rain pants or expensive poncho)

Technology:

  • Cellphone
  • USB charger and European adaptor
  • Headphones
  • Fitbit USB charger
  • Powerbank

Toiletries/First Aid:

  • Ear plugs
  • Eye mask
  • Toothbrush and paste
  • Deoderant
  • Disposable razor
  • Nail clippers
  • Brush
  • Hairties
  • Tissues
  • Ziplock bags
  • Bandaids
  • Shampoo bar
  • Summit wash (concentrated wash for body/laundry)
  • Small sunscreen
  • SPF Lip balm
  • Vaseline
  • Sewing kit for blisters/patching up
  • Strapping tape

Miscellaneous:

  • Notebook and pen
  • Spork
  • Neck pouch for passport/money etc during day
  • Small pocketknife which has tiny scissors and tweezers
  • Guidebook possibly (270grams so perhaps cut some pages out)
  • Suction hook for use in showers
  • Big safety pins for laundry
  • A few carabiners
  • $2 plastic poncho

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Relay for Life 2018

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In the weekend I participated in the relay for life. Basically you create a team of people and someone always has to be walking on the track for 24 hours. You raise money and awareness for the Cancer Society in the process. This year the relay for life raised $175,000 NZD, of that our team raised $7,500 and I raised $400.

I was a part of the Fire and Emergency NZ team as my father is a firefighter. I walked about 53km in the weekend and my toes are really feeling it but what a wonderful cause. This was a great way to see how it felt to do 20+ kilometers for two days in a row like you would be doing day in, day out for 35 days on the Camino. It was flat the whole time so hard to know but overall the body felt great, just my toes blistering in the last hour (which I didn’t stop to check and tend to when I should have) was the only issue I encountered. I really had nothing to complain about as some of the guys wore the breathing apparatus with full fire gear so had an extra 30kg’s to carry and were breathing through the face mask! Incredibly proud of everyone involved!

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I was meant to go babysitting for a few hours in the evening and then get back to the track but my dad had hurt his back and when I went to check on him on my way to babysitting he was in agony and I had to call an ambulance. Long story short the codeine had reacted and it felt like he was being stabbed but also he hurt his back just by bending down and was in extreme pain. An overnight hospital stay to have drugs and lots of tests, then I took him back home after relay for life. Hopefully with drugs and physio he will get better soon and it won’t be anything major!

This did mean that my schedule for the weekend changed. I spent the first 5 hours walking around the track, then left for babysitting but ended up with dad at the hospital until 10pm, left him to have tests and sleep and walked for a few hours in the middle of the night, back to the hospital at 2:30am to check on him, nurse told me to get some sleep so went and had 3 hours of sleep, back to hospital in the morning at 7am and then back walking on the track at 8:30am continuously until 12:00pm. Grand total of 74,000 steps and 54km.

Fitbit steps were through the roof for the weekend! Silly sleep thing wouldn’t sync on the dashboard but you can see my low sleep for Saturday night… hectic weekend but very rewarding too! 2020 Relay for Life here we come!

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Special moment when Kylie Price sang for everyone at the candlelight ceremony and they showed photos of those loved and lost. RIP Grandad xxx