Happy in Brodick

We said goodbye to the west coast of Canada at noon on Mon July 23 and have been saying  hello to Scotland since 9am on Tuesday July 24. Wow, that was quick. Just three flights for me and two for my fellow travellers, a Harry Potter movie, a few games of Yahtzee, a fresh lobster roll, a face mask treatment on the plane or two, a bus and we arrived safe and excited to be in Glasgow!

We caught the Glasgow Airport Express (20pounds for 4 of us) to Glasgow Central Train Station (about a 15min journey) so we could hit Buchanan Street. This is a long, cobbled stoneshopping street or district with lots of clothes shops, Tesco (grocery store), Boots (drug stores) and Poundland (dollar store). A great place for the newly arrived tourist to grab a  iPhone charger that works in the plugs here, an international SIM card so I can gave a data plan for safety .. and blogging reasons, etc.

While out and about in Glasgow, we stopped at the Willow Tea Room – a Charles Rennie Mackintosh inspired cafe – for scones and Loren sausage morning rolls, fresh tea and strong coffee. Charles Rennie Mackintosh is a famous Scottish architect and artist who draws these beautiful roses! During breakfast my amazing crew had birthday cards for me and eeeeeek a Polaroid camera! No joke!

Yup that little lime green guy is mine! This is going to make scrapbooking this trip even more fun – oh my goodness I cannot wait! That’s the first pic I took so I could remember how crazy happy I am! Wow, what a present! You even have to  wave the Polaroid around darter it slides out until the film does its magic show up thing. So fun!

We did a bit more looking about in Glasgow, grabbing a few wee things we thought we might not be able to get on the small Island of Arran and then made our way back to the Glasgow Central Station to grab a train out to Adrosson Harbour and then onto the ferry to Brodick on the Island.

Of course we snapped a few pics on the way … including one of a Tim Horton’s right in central Glasgow. Who knew!?

The ticket for both train and ferry was about 12 pounds total, that is pretty awesome considering we spent almost a full hour on each. We bought them right from the ticket office at ScotRail with no problem at all and during the summer months he trains sets out every hour. We were on the train for 12:19pm and then the ferry by 2pm. So easy.

Once in Brodick we quickly got acquainted with this very small village, found the best photo spot, sized up all the local pubs (all 3 haha) and found quick directions to our home for the evening.

We are staying at a little B&B / self catering apartments place called The Broomage. The family that runs it is lovely and live on the top third floor, while the rest of us have the run of the main and second floor. A little sad we don’t get a full Scottish Breakfast our first morning of our hike but no one should complain about yummy fruit, toast and cereal when you aren’t the one making it. Love that!

We dropped our heavy packs, chatted with the owner couple a little bit, and then headed into town (snicker, snicker that’s about a half a block away and about that big) for something to eat – we were famished.

Yahoo at the Fiddler’s Roof we found haggis and Arran Island cheese toasties and Cullen Skink soup – two delicious, very Scottish meals. Haggis is well um sort of peppery meatloaf (we will leave it at that) and Cullen Skink is a fish, cream, potato soup. Oh and some local Scottish ale too. Mmmm

We had a great supper pouring over the maps, guide book and information about the towns we would visit in the days to come. Many of us yawning and ready to go grab groceries then get back and sort out our backpacks  for the next day! But not before Cheryl gifted the bar a sweet, crisp, pretty 5dollar bill for their brick wall of money. They had loads of other kinds of money up there but  Canadian – well that just had to be remedied! Go Canada Go!

Ok back at our home, we got to packing. Sorting out what would be in our day packs (rain gear, fleece, chow for lunch and snacks, first aid kit, sun screen, hat, sneakers if wearing boots or vice versa, lip chap, camera, map, compass, etc) and what would go in our carry forward packs. Contours Walking Company will be picking up our carry forward packs in the morning and they will be there waiting at our next evenings home.

By now, just 7pm Glasgow time, the flights and the time change are getting to us. A couple of the crew turned in while Shar and I went to the beach for a few sunset pics, some blog time and journaling.

Shar and I wrapped up the evening with some tea and biscuits while we reviewed tomorrow’s route and looked ahead to the highlights of the days to follow.

Now that’s us off to bed – we have a 27km day tomorrow up island to Lochranza! Time for some Z’s!

Brande

Goat Creek to Goat Fell

Yahoo lassies!

On Monday the crew of us heading to Scotland to complete the Arran Coast Way in July had our one and only chance to train all together and it was awesome!

Shar selected the Goat Creek Trail for us seeing it would mimic much of our path in Scotland. I sure hope so too because the trail was great and I could do that for a week for sure!

The trail starts at the Goat Creek trail head just outside of Canmore and ends 19km later at the Banff Springs outside of Banff (the trail tail / trail butt as Rosa and Shar joked).

The path was undulating for the most part, up away from Goat Creek and then back down again as we left Canmore further behind and gained on approaching Banff. Just a few slogs up overall really – what a treat!!

At the head of the trail there was a big ole sign warning of wolves and grizzly bears in the area. Always a nice ‘welcome to the trail you hikers who may also double dinner’. Ha! Usually I see these signs when I am alone hiking and they freak me out – which 4 of us hiking though it was way less intimidating. Ok maybe not way less but at least a bit less.

Best way to curb the ‘gonna get eaten’ fear is to launch into full ‘don’t eat me’ mode. This includes being generally loud on the trail – holding conversations, hollering out a word or two every 50 feet or when approaching a bend in the path or a creek, and staying together if you have a hiking tribe.

Really you are just hoping to scare any wildlife away before there is any chance of you startling them into eating you. We also did a quick run down of what to do if we do see a bear, cougar or wolf so we were all on the same page. We did this loudly of course as part of our ‘be heard and be seen’ wildlife strategy. (I like to call things strategies so they sound all planned and awesome – even though this this was more of a ‘holy crap, what if’ scenario discussion.)

We had a lot of fun with the calling out a word every 50 feet or so strategy; turning it into a game of sorts. This keeps the bears away, is fun, and seems to eat up the miles quickly! We did the classic name that country sound off starting with A thru to Z, then a round for celebrities and one for names of songs. This last one may have include some short bursts of singing which may have been the best thing for keeping those pack hunting wolves at bay. At least when I was belting out the ole Toy Soldier by Martika! Remember that one?

During our walk we focused on a two things – the beauty of the trail and our gear. Lots of gear talk. Mostly gear talk. We were out there on Monday to test gear. Everything from socks to hats, and from undies to backpacks to see what will make the cut for Scotland.

I discovered my penchant for being cheap has resulted in wearing decade old SmartWools that don’t keep their shape any longer resulting in under the heel blister potential, and that my new hiking capris from Eddie Bauer are great but they are not the replacement for my long standing favourite Nike capris that need to make one final trip me thinks. I also confirmed that after logging probably 1000s of kilometers in my Asolo Backpacking boots across the globe I may need to splurge for some new insoles. I better get on that quick so I can train the next 6 weeks in them before we depart.

Rosa tried the switch from boots to shoes technique to see how that worked for her dogs – a strategy I deploy on 20km+ days with great success especially when it includes compression socks! Cheryl discovered that the pants she thought would be perfect were not and will not be making the cut for the trip’s packing list. Shar confirmed her hiking shorts are perfect for the trip and that the wax from Baby Bel Cheese can be used to prevent sunburns on your the nose if there is ever a shortage of sunscreen.

Overall the trail of 19km took us just over 4 hours at a very easy pace with lots of wee stops to check and test that gear and some snacks mid way too. The weather was overcast with some small breaks of sun – perfect for hiking! Not too hot or cold. Oh and

A little extra time was added to the trip for an extra special reason! We had to make one special pit stop for Rosa to see if Jamie Fraser of Outlander was perhaps at this standing stone – nope, she did not hear bees. Doh! We will try every standing stone in Scotland for you Rosa until we find him.

Oh and we had to stop for Shar and Cheryl to knock off a few yoga moves for those tight ham-dogs and hip-flexors too.

We rolled into Banff arriving at the trail butt by the Banff Springs Hotel of amazingness. But us classy gals didn’t stop there for a cool, fancy drink. No way! We made our way down to Buffalo Bills for a cold pint and some meat!

Then we headed up Banff Main Street to catch the Roam bus for $6bucks back to Canmore where our vehicles were waiting! Lots of peeps bike the trail we walked so there were even some bins strapped to the front or the back of the bus to bead back to Canmore.

Am awesome trial and trail day for all of us! We all loved the trail and each of us figured out something a little more than we knew before about our gear for Scotland.

Eeeek the trip is coming fast!

Brande

Announcing a New Adventure

I am super excited to announce my next adventure …

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I will be heading back to do some more hiking (hill walking as they  like to call it) in Scotland this summer. A celebration of a milestone birthday. I cheered my 30th in Scotland so what a great way to bring in my 40th. Hmm maybe this trend will continue for my 50th in another decade!

The hike I will be celebrating with is the Arran Coastal Path, about a 108+km path that goes all the way around the Isle of Arran off the west coast of Scotland. An area I have never explored and an island that boasts it is a mini-Scotland.

I will be joined in my merriment with a trio of three amazing women…

My sister Shar, who I have done many hikes with including the Great Glen Way in Scotland back in 2013. Which we both loved and have been trying to get back on the long distance path together since! Shar brings the planning, go-get-em-ra-ra cheerleading, and excited clapping to our band.

My sister-in-scrapbooking Cheryl, who I have not hiked with before but have had the awesome pleasure of spending loads of deep thinking and laugh till you cry time with so it should be awesome. Cheryl brings the deep conversations, conventional and unconventional wisdom and get-it-done-in-colour to the troupe.

My sister-in-as-good-as-law Rosa, who I have not hiked with per se but we have put on a tonne of miles together walking and stair climbing during far off family vacations. Rosa brings the perseverance, logic, competition and hilariously heckling sense of humour to the team.

We are just 19weeks out and already having a wonderful time just in the planning. Over the coming weeks I will share our training plans, details of our itinerary and all the other preparation bits and bobs. Then of course a day by day, play by play here on the blog while we are on our adventure.

Brande

Finished (Again) In Finisterre

Yahoo, yesterday we completed another Camino here in Spain.

The Camino Finisterre – 86kms from Santiago de Compestela to Finisterre, the kilometer 0 marker of all the Caminos! A sort of epic moment for us for sure and for the many other pilgrims taking selfies with the 0 marker!

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We started our day in a very casual fashion. With just 20km or so to cover to our destination we had loads of time. We only had one roomie in our hostel room and laid about until she exited – then we had the place to ourselves to get ready for the day! I laid in bed longer than usual to be honest enjoying the view from my comfy pillow – aka the fog. The place we stayed had clean, wonderful duvets on the bed and we have not experienced a real blanket in weeks!

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At the late hour of 1030 with a cafe con leche in our systems and some toast and jam, we left the beautiful coastal city of Cee to make our way not Finisterre. We got a bit distracted by the next city of Corcubion however …

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Ok for real on our way, we hit a darn hill first thing and by hill I mean hill like crazy hill. Like never ending, hamstring torture hill. I was racing a snail basically and we were sweaty as all heck in the 97% humidity by the top!

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Ok hill of hell out of the way, we were really-really ready to make our way to Finisterre. While it was foggy and humid and a bit misty we never did have to put on our waterproofs. Here are some highlights of the 20km:

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Wow we made it to Finisterre – we checked into outer new home and then made our way another 2+km to the end of all Camino’s at the Finisterre or Faro lighthouse! Here are some highlights of that highway path and lighthouse:

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We headed back down the hill to Finisterre and found the muncipal Albergue to get our next Pilgrim’s certificate:

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The day wrapped up with a celebration with pimientos de pardon (deep fried jalapeño peppers with delicious rock salt) as our local treat, potatoes cause we burnt enough calories and why wouldn’t eat some, and shrimp as we are now on the coast. Chased with a local bottle of white to top things off!

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This morning, we are about to leave our Finisterre humble home, Albergue Finistellae, to head out on a big walk today. 28km to the Muxia coast which many people consider the other ‘finish line’ of the Camino.

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We will check back in 28km! Buen Camino!
Brande

Final Prep and Packing for the Camino

With just 3 sleeps left to departure for Paris then train onto St. Jean Pied de Port to start the first of 3 Camino trails things are starting to get very real – and I feel like I am taking over the house with all of the final prep bits!

My scrapbook / craft studio has become a large display case for what will go in my backpack on Friday morning and for the next 36 sleeps after live on my back day to day, kilometer after kilometer. Everything is laid in a specific order (to me). Rolled where final decision has been made and that item is for sure coming – and only folded if I am unsure if its the “one” that gets to come with me. Post-it notes where I still need to grab the stuff from drawers or the laundry room or the drying rack.

My scrapbook / craft table has become a language lesson centre with all of my language cheat sheets spread out and ready for me to add to as and when I hear a word or phase in French, Spanish or Portuguese from my playbacks I didn’t write down yet. I am starting to get the languages down pat (well good enough anyway) but my “accent” for each is sounding oddly blended. I am rolling Rs and sh’ing Sh all over the place, even when I don’t need to. I am hoping that the nice people of the countries we visit will just find me eccentric and dramatic but still understand me. (like y’all do here in Canada!)

My kitchen counter has become a language playback display case. Each day and sometimes more than once a day, I grab one of the language lesson playbacks and throw the ear plugs in and practice. My morning run today was Portuguese. I was French on the way to work and back, and am about to get some Spanish in this evening. I have to return all of these to the library on Friday morning before we depart on a jet plane – so packing in my final refreshers while I can. Muy bien!

Finally, my poor walls have also been dragged into this prep mayhem with a large (think movie poster size) packing list in red Sharpie taking up some serious real estate. What is certain is written out, and what is still up for final decision is written and circled. Thurs night (last night home) I will compare the poster list to what is on the floor and cross the items off accordingly with a black Sharpie if they are there and make the final cut for the journey. { If any of my staff are reading this this post, you now have proof that I subject myself to the sharpie and post-it poster ordeal too – it’s not just a special torture I save for you all. LOL } 

By Thursday night all of these spaces and places will be returned to normal, and the house will get one final deep clean from me … leaving my hubby with a beautiful and back to normal home while I am off putting miles on with Lana!

Weird. I couldn’t help thinking this morning that it was my last Tuesday waking up in my own bed until October. I think of all back-home comforts I will miss, the top of my list is my hubby (of course, big style) and the second is my comfy, amazing, no other pilgrims snoring or making other gaseous sounds, bed bug free, king size bed.

It’s the simple things in life, you know?

Brande

PS tres duerme

 

Documenting my Camino

While hiking and travel are for sure the hobbies I am most passionate about, scrapbooking is a very close second for me. Scrapbooking is this amazing way of creating photo albums that use various paper and embellishments (think small craft items) and lots of journaling to document the photo and its story. Check out Scrapstorian, a scrapbooking blog I have with my sister and our sister-in-scrapbooking!

Any who, a little fun digression there but let’s get back to it …

When hiking and travel and scrapbooking collide, wow! The heavens open and I can hear the angels of hobbies singing! And those angels will be singing for me when I get home and scrapbook my entire Camino trip. But now I get to satisfy this passion even while abroad. thanks to my new love for Traveler’s Notebooks (TN), a sort of on the go, in the moment journal and scrapbook. I am grooving to the beautiful singing of the hobby angels every step of the way AND during every page I make in my album when back home! Nothing like milking a single experience for every drop of greatness.

Let me tell you a little bit more about my approach with a TN and some ideas on what you might include in your travel notebook or journal or blog whatever way you document your travels in future.

To start, here is my Notebook (I am sort of squealing with excitement because I have been dying to get a notebook from MAKER THIRTY FIVE and bam, here it is – thank you for such a timely sale ladies!):

Camino Traveler's Notebook Cover

Now one of the MANY benefits of a TN is that it comes with no guts (insides). Just a number of elastics which you can use to hold any type of insert (think soft covered notebook) you want. If you like grids vs lines or dots and a calendar or blank – they have got it. You can buy up whatever type you like, or any combo that you like and just put it in your journal – find the middle of the notebook and slide it under one of the elastics until it sits in the middle. Like this:

Camino Traveler's Notebook Insert Elastic

I have thought long and hard about what to include in my TN to best serve what I want and how I want to document my Camino. I dont want to carry about something I will not use or force myself to use a solution that is not quite right for me. Here is what I have come up with and I am confident it will be magic:

JOURNALING – I prefer writing on grid paper, and the smaller the grid the better. So when I found the Chelsea Paper Co on Etsy.ca and their 3mm grid notebook I ordered up that goodness double time. So I have 5 of these, 3 currently in my Notebook to get me started (I write a lot when travelling and secretly dream of writing a book about my travels so I need to take notes like it will change my life!)

SKETCHING – I prefer sketching on blank paper, like most folks I am sure. So I have also included a notebook of blank, beautifully smooth, and super white paper from another of my favourite planner company’s The 4107 Planners.

ORGANIZING – I prefer keeping a to-do or “remember this” sort of list in a calendar type format, so I also included some weekly organization pages (includes a spot for each day of the week and a to-do list spot) that I printed for FREE from my peeps at The 1407 Planners team – thank you! On these pages I will make note of when we have to call an albergue (hostel) the day before to confirm, or when there is no grocery store for a couple days so we need to stock up on apples and chocolate.

EXTRA BITS – In the little side pockets of the Notebook I have tucked some washi tape (very thin decorated tape) that I will use to secure in bus tickets, coasters, etc. as memorabilia directly into my journal – much thinner and lighter than the usual glue stick I travel with. I have also created myself language recipe cards (albergue = hostel, cervaza = beer) in Spanish and Portuguese so I will tuck this in there as well.

I added a little flair to each of the notebooks with stickers and papers from my scrapbooking collection, some amazing bits my sister-in-scrapbooking (Cheryl) gave me and voila. I think it looks so awesome and am first day of school excited to start writing in it!

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Ok so blank canvas is ready, now what to actually write and sketch?

I am not sure exactly how it will all pan out in reality but below is a list of ideas I have about what I can include in my Camino Traveller’s Notebook – a big thanks to all the various blogs and Instagram folks and magazines I read that inspired this list:

  • Sketch cool logos, street art, streets, bridges, churches or buildings that I see (I used to love to draw houses around my neighbourhood, I am going to try and find that 10yr old me again!)
  • Sketch what is my carry on, backpack, daily outfits, funny
  • Use bullet lists to document top 10 favourite foods in Spain or Portugal, fav pilgrims, fav hostel
  • Write out all pretty and fancy quotes I find that I love or mean something
  • Quotes from fellow pilgrims or people we meet on the way that are funny, profound
  • A day by day account of my travels, the good – the bad – the ugly and in between
  • Where we eat and what, what we saw, places we visited, kms we walked in a day, etc.

I love to journal and I find I write the most when I am travelling and even more when I am hiking – funny how our happy places inspire us to do all the other stuff that makes us happy too. So while I know this might be a bit much to carry as far as weight in my backpack is concerned – I am ok with that and have managed my other pack items (their weight and how many) accordingly.

Stay tuned for updates as me and my TN take on Spain, Portugal and France

Brande

PS Just 5 sleeps now!

Wrapping Up My Camino Research

Camino Books

My research on what to expect, what to bring, what time of year to go, how long I would need, and so much more for my upcoming Camino de Santiago adventure started almost a decade ago, in 2008. Yup, 2008. I came across a great article in some magazine that sparked the ‘follow the Way’ bug in me!

Within weeks I bought and poured through A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago by John Brierley, the 2008 edition. My desire to clip a scallop shell to my pack and follow the yellow arrows of the Camino were never too far from the surface since. It’s now August 2017 and I am just 11 sleeps from departure.

In this last year I have done a lot of research to prepare for the journey. I thought I would share a bit about the non-fiction books I have read and the tips I derived from each for my Camino. Here goes:

Guidebook(s) to the Camino de Santiago, John Brierley 

As part of my research, I have read the 2017 version of the Guidebook for the Way of St. James (French Way) that I read back in 2008, the Portuguese Way (Camino Central), and the Muxia Circuit through Finisterre way – both the full Guidebooks and the shorter Map book versions. These books by Mr. Brierley are often referred to as the ‘bible of the Camino’ and for good reason. They have everything you need. Maps with breakdowns of the distance on different kinds of surfaces (woodland path vs forest roads), elevation gain, info about areas and places, where to stay and where to get your next cafe con leche. If you are going to walk the Camino and only had time to read one book, make it a Mr. Brierley guidebook!

TIP: I will be taking the Map versions of each of 3 of these Ways with me on the journey as we will be walking some or all of each. However … avert your eyes all book lovers this hurts my heart too … I have ripped out any page I don’t need to cut down on the size and weight of each book. Weight or lack thereof in your pack is critical for the Way.

I’m Off Then, Hape Kerkeling 

Here is where I admit I was seriously hoping to find a Bill Bryson book on the Camino. I have read every single one of his books and thought maybe there was a secret stash only those who have bought their flight to St. Jean Pied de Port where the St. James Way to Santiago starts know about. Nope. But a darn near close second was this book, It even had a recommendation from Mr. Hilarious Travel Exploits Bill Bryson himself. For good reason too – this book was an easy, entertaining and really enjoyable read.  Hape has a great way of explaining people and places with just enough detail to leave an impression and make you want to to head there to see it for yourself. On it!

TIP: Every chapter in this book finishes with an insight of the day. Most were really great reminders like drink more and some were quite profound. I have made a note in my journal to come up with an insight daily (and yes you will be subjected to each here on this blog). I want to see if mine too go from basic needs (drink more) to profound and insightful and often spiritual like Hape’s did by the time he reach Santiago.

The Way, My Way A Camino Memoir, Bill Bennett 

While this book was definitely about Bill’s Camino experience and included information on the route, walking, how his body held up (or didn’t);  it was also so much more. Bill really got into the story of other pilgrim’s. The getting to know them, learning why they were walking, and overall just making a real connection with other people’s and their story. He brought this all into his memoir. So it was really like reading the memoirs of many, not just Bill’s. The laughs throughout the book were icing on the cake.

TIP: Talk to people, engage and interact with other pilgrim’s. To some of you that may sound like a total no-brainer but for this introvert it is something I will have to really think about and force myself to do. I will though, commitment made (and now I want to build a fort in my room and hide lol).

What the Psychic Told the Pilgrm, Jane Christmas

Jane sets out on the Camino with a bunch of women she barely or does not know at all. After mentioning she is going to walk the Way to an acquaintance back home within chapters she is a Camino tour guide effectively to a bunch of other women. Of course you can guess that does not lend itself to a restful and spiritual Camino but rather a lonely, crazy making, frustrating one until Jane takes her Camino back.

TIP: Walk your Way, your way. I am heading to the Camino with my bestie Lana (and fellow blogger here on Running for the Gate) and we made a ‘pinky swear’ of sorts to make sure we do in fact walk the Way, our own way. We each have one “we are not walking today” card and neither of will walk that day AND we have unlimited with no judgement or shame “I am not walking today” where the other one can walk and we will meet up at our destination.

Call of the Camino, Robert Muller 

This book is half Robert’s account of his pilgrimage and half explanation of the myths and legends along the Camino route all intermixed throughout. I really liked this format. I geeked out and made notes so I could tell Lana about legends as we walk through certain areas and churches. I love the Rooster in the church story!  I also found personal Robert’s experience honest, easy to read and I hope my experience is something like his is on the Way. I loved how he, like Bill Bennett, also included the stories and his connection with other Pilgrim’s.

TIP: Learn about where you are going. Know some of the history, myths and legends of where you will be visiting. I do this for every trip and it really brings me joy. I find recognizing something, even a story or history of a building, while abroad helps with the homesickness that even the most experience travelers deal with.

Beun Camino! Camino de Santiago: A Father-Daughter Journey (ebook)

I am racing to read this book before I depart on my own Camino next week. The book is written jointly by Natasha (daughter) and Peter (dad). Each chapter has “Peter” sections and “Natasha” sections about the same day or trail section and has a whole bunch of history and legend of the Way and St. James throughout. So far it is really great!

TIP: If you are going to share your Camino, do it with someone you love – someone who encourages you but doesn’t pressure you – someone who will approach the Way in a similar frame of mind – someone who will also give you the room to make your Way, your way. I am super lucky to have this in my Camino mate Lana but I could have also happily and ecstatically walked with my Dad too. Wow, that would have been amazing! (Dad, there are a bunch of other routes to Santiago. What you doing next year?)

The Way of the Stars, Robert C. Sibley 

Robert has walked the Way of St. James twice. Do not be surprised by that – from what I have read once the Camino is in your blood you cannot help but want to do it again! The first time Robert walked it was alone and this second time he set off with his young adult son. Robert gives the details of his first walk and provides insights on how he now sees the Camino a second time but with his son at his side (or ahead on the trail). An easy read with lots of good chuckles throughout.

TIP: Bring something you learned on the Camino, home with you. Robert spends quite a bit of his story talking about being unconnected from the urban life, really enjoying the break from a commute and daily work demands. I want to focus on how good it feels to just walk and bring that home with me. Like not getting so caught up in the house needing to be vacuumed that I don’t go for a hike. The lint on the carpet can wait but my peace of mind shouldn’t.

The Journey In Between, Keith Foskett (ebook)

I saved the best (aka my favourite) for last. This book is awesome. Keith Foskett is a thru hiker and an author – my own dream. His Camino story hit home for me as it is blatantly obvious he loves nature and loves putting one foot in front of the other. Me too! I love eating up space and time with my own two feet then looking back and thinking “I did that”. Keith’s story made me laugh out loud, cringe at the pain of his blisters, agree audibility with his insights, and chomp at the bit to start my own Camino.

TIP: Almost all not-so-great-events will make a good story next week or next year. Even situations and circumstances that in the moment feel awful may be the best story you ever told. When I walked the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path in Wales in 2008 with a 102 fever due to infected spider bites it was awful BUT it makes a great story when trading travel experiences with others!

Well that’s my book list … so far. I have no doubt I will be adding to this list when I get back. Reading for nostalgic instead of research purposes. Really, my ultimate dream would be to add my own book to this list. Can you imagine!

Brande 

PS 11 Sleeps!

Speak, Parle, Hablo, Falo!

Oh goodness me, who do I think I am and what language am I even trying to speak!

My efforts to be prepared for the upcoming Camino Adventure in French, Spain and Portugal continue – and the current prep is all around communication! Making sure what I need is understood. You know just simple things like “do you have beds available?” or”two beers please?” and “where is the bathroom?” or “have you ever seen such a blister?” and “do you have bed bugs?” Oh and learning some basic polite phrases like good morning, have a good day, please and thank you too.

My plan (in action and so far quite interesting) is to use the months of June, July and in August to learn to speak Portuguese, brush up on the Spanish I learned in University, and hopefully drum up memories of the French I learned in grade school.

I have my trusty Pimsleur playback devices rented from my local library for free (I heart libraries) in each of the three languages. My rule is I must be doing my language learning while driving to and from anywhere. No more fun podcasts, audio books or chatting with family. Languages, linguas, langues, idiomas! Only. If you see a blond in a Tuscon in Vancouver butchering French, Spanish or Portuguese as she drives – that is me! Give me a wave!

June was designated Portuguese month and it is a doozy for me to pronounce this language. Portuguese in my mind is like trying to speak Spanish but with a saucy German accent. I have to keep saying “Sprichst du Deutsch?” (Do you speak German?) in my head over and over in order to get the sound right when trying to speak Portuguese. Yes this is the only German I know and I am probably butchering it too. If I am insulting anyone here, there is no offense meant – so far this is just the only way I can get the R rolling and the SH sounds of Portuguese to work with these wee, little, skinny chicken lips I have. Portuguese is such a cool language but wow a different sound than I have ever had to make. Some of the words in Portuguese are so much cooler than their English counter part. Like Lisbon sounds cool in English sure but in Portuguese it is Lisboa (pronounced in my mind like leash-boa) and that is  so much cooler. Yes I picture a dog with wearing a leash and a feather boa everytime I say it.

July is my refresh on Spanish and French month. We are only in France for a few days on the trip so I will run through the Pimsleur playback just once (OK maybe twice). I am well versed in how to order chocolate croissants and wine in French from my last visit and that is the most important stuff covered. Ha! But for Spanish, we do have a couple weeks in Spain so I will need to take that refresh a little more seriously. Spanish is the language I have spent the most time studying and using abroad. The simple stuff has come back pretty quick in the past so hopefully I have that same luck.

August will take me back to Portuguese for a final refresh. During this month I will make a language cheat sheet for my traveler’s notebook journal. A little reference sheet for the trip that I can peek at when the words elude me. You know something that has the word for wine, cheese, bread, blister, shower, thank you, etc. in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. The important stuff!

Carrying a translation dictionary for each language is just too much weight for the average size backpacks we will be lugging about. So when a language does fail me (as I am sure it will many a time), I am not afraid to resort to hand signals, speaking the English words slower and louder (seems to be a universal thing to do), and breaking into random interpretive dance.

Brande 

PS 49 sleeps to departure!

Training for the Camino Gets Real

How will I train for my Camino adventure? How will I make it so lifting these boots for kilometers a day is a total blister-muscle-pain-soreness-free pleasure?

Boots_May2017There are lots of forums, blogs, websites, books and more with tips and fully designed plans for training for the Camino de Santiago. They are all so helpful and really have helped me figure out how I am going to train for my Camino.

The Camino adventure Lana Rae and I will be doing this fall is a bit of a mash up from the usual point A (St. Jean Pied de Port) to point B (Santiago) Camino. Ours includes the Pyrenees mountain section and final 100+ km of the Camino Frances, the Camino Finisterre taking us out to the Spanish coast through some long woodland stretches, and then finally the Camino Portuguese – Fisherman Coastal section with lots of walking right on the beach. Yahoo!

So basically I need to train for all manner of terrain, with temps in the 25C+ range, a month of walking with most days around 25-30km, and about a total 600km. Accounting for any detours to off trail historic sites, and lets be honest probably a couple get lost and found again kilometers too.

Hmm well here is my plan:

  • hike often
  • aim for round 15-20km each time
  • get in as many days back to back as possible
  • throw in at least a half dozen 30km
  • always with with 25lb in my pack
  • wear the boots and gear I will be wearing on the actual trip
  • throw in some stair training
  • get some overall weight training in
  • increase the yoga focus to limber up these getting creaky joints

Plan established (check) and now in progress (check).

JinkerstonStairs_ChilliwackI have been doing most of my training to date in my own neighbourhood which is just amazing to be able to do. I am lucky to live at the top of a big hill with the great Burns Bog trail system close by.

But I do need to kick it up a notch. To officially start my training plan I did a  jaunt up and down one of my favourite hikes in Chilliwack – Mount Thom. I parked a couple of kilometers away so I could get in some extra hill time and the horrible, torturous and awesome for training Jinkerson Stairs (all 240 of them). Now that will get the glutes and hammies working!

MountThom_ChilliwackFrom there, with some serious Darth Vader breathing, it was up and up the Mount Thom trail. Its an easy trail really with no scrambling at all but the ascent is pretty quick in some sections. And there are some random up and down sections throughout so just when the legs get burning up, you get a down section and a whole different set up muscles burning, then back up again.

MountThomView_ChilliwackI also like this trail for the nice number of folks on the trail. Not too many and not too few. Just enough so there are other food options for the bears and cougars. I prefer to not be the only main course for the wild beasties.

The view from the top is icing on the cake – you can see out over all of the amazing farms that Chilliwack boasts and the mountain range start out in the distance. So great!

A favourite, close-ish to home hike for sure.

FitBitMap_MntThomMay2017FitBitStats_MntThomMay2017Now I just need to get these ‘baseline / first training session’ stats kicked up a notch. Posting my first session FitBit stats here and I will toss up my last training stats doing this same hike before I go as my goal to see these improve.

Wow nothing like making myself publicly accountable!

 

There is truly so much pleasure in the training – I love hiking and most especially love just being out in nature listening to the birds or my podcasts and just doing a lot of thinking. I cant wait to experience the same joy of walking but in France, Spain and Portugal.. and I will have my bestie to chat with each step too. Hello!

1 month and 27 days to departure – and now I have a solid training plan and a end goal. That just makes this adventure quite real. Eeeeek so excited.

Brande

 

 

 

Found in Translation

Oh goodness me –  just had to share!

Over the past few weeks, Lana and I have been busy planning our Great Camino Mash Up Adventure. This is our catch phrase name for the 5 weeks we get to spend in France, Spain and Portugal taking part in the best parts of 3 different Camino pilgrimages. Check out Planning is Half the Fun! for way too many details on just how knee deep into planning we have been.

While bouncing about the world wide web during a recent planning weekend, Lana and I were finding ourselves quite amused. Some of the information on accommodation or travel websites in Spain and Portugal were hilarious. Either they are just darn funny people by nature (I hope so as that will make this trip even more fun) or Google Translate has wreaked some humorous havoc on their web fronts!

We had to share a few of our favourites which at 2am after hours of planning had us in stitches – of course what isn’t funny in the middle of the night with your bestie!

  • you shall see on your left hand side, a skat-park
  • chronic melting of volunteers
  • book to secure your most satisfaction
  • the soul given by each of you, to you
  • sheet low to use and throw away

Now while most made us laugh, I couple hit a bit home. These two statements that were seemingly lost in translation … may have actually been found in translation. I am hit by a much deeper meaning to these – for our lives and for this adventure.

Despite the passage is forbidden, continue

Despite the passage is forbidden, continue. This one had me thinking about all of the hardships we may run into and need to work through on our adventure. To overcome and just keep on stepping. Blisters, injuries, weather, malfunctioning gear, health issues, or whatever. Just take the next small step towards our goal. Despite it continue.

Trust in God and tether your camel.

Trust in God and tether your camel. Well this one definitely hits home for me as I am a bit of a worrier, ok sometimes more than a bit. I think this one will be a great reminder to just give it to God and know he will take care of us. Tether that anxiety or grumpiness or weariness and trust … and keep those hiking boots moving forward.

Awesome mantras for the adventure ahead!

Brande