El Camino Francés 2017 – Epilogue and Prologue

I’m writing down these thoughts at the end of my journey, drawing the conclusions and sharing the experience I’ve gained. I think it’s useful to read this post before you’d read my diary, or perhaps after it, or before you’d start your journey on El Camino.
The most important conclusion is: the Camino won’t solve your problems! However, it will give you time to recognize them and to realize who you really are without the noise and the rat race at home. If you pay attention, you’ll realize what’s really important, and you’ll find the time to think through how you’re going to solve your problems.
If you read my diary: think of it as an interesting little story, but don’t try to copy it. I didn’t copy the pilgrimage of others, either. I was walking the way I felt like. This is what makes the difference, this is what made it my way. You should also walk yours. This is how it all makes sense.

Yes, it can be difficult, but not impossible. People of all ages complete the pilgrimage, in different states of health – although for some it takes longer than for others. Don’t go too far. Just do it in your own rhythm and you’ll be alright.
Calculate with some extra time when planning the whole adventure, so that you’ll have room for a few unexpected days off, or distances shorter than planned.

Don’t be a tourist, because then you won’t cross the borders, won’t break your limits, and then your way will have no value and no result. The Camino isn’t about lightness and luxury. You can complete it getting up late, walking 5 miles, having your equipment transported by a courier, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants. But if this is what you want, then take my advice and book a holiday in Thailand.
Don’t sleep in a separate room (it’s okay once in a while, but not every day), because in this case you’ll be missing out on community experiences, you won’t make friends, as you’ll be isolated from the others.

Don’t push it too much, give yourself time to get used to the whole thing. Don’t plan too long distances. If your legs hurt, have a day of rest or shorten the distance, because it isn’t worth getting injured. The first 5-6 days are the most difficult, because people aren’t used to the weight of the backpack and the long walks, yet. And then, around the 10th day, you get used to it and it all becomes easier.
The first third of El Camino is for the body, the second third is for the mind, and the third one’s for the soul. 
Pay attention to others, be open, but don’t stick on others and don’t let anyone stick on you. If you meet someone, or start a conversation with, ask them politely whetherthey mind if you walk together for a while. You can also tell anyone that you’d rather walk alone. Don’t worry in case they don’t understand it or get offended by it – those who do, are not the ones you should spend time together with.

Many think that if they come from the same place as you then you should walk together. It isn’t so.

You can give and accept things, but don’t overdo it. If you open a bottle of wine, offer some to the people sitting next to you. You should also accept a dinner invitation, if there are more people cooking around you in the kitchen. You might find yourself in interesting conversations and might get to know great people this way.

If you see someone in need, and you can help them, do so. You’ll also be happy to be helped out when in need for painkillers or a band-aid. Sometimes all people need is a kind word, an idea, or a tip.

You’ll need money. Quite a lot. Your pocket money will be about 1000-1200 Euros (they say the daily budget is at least around 30, but it can be more, it depends on you). Beside that, you’ll have to get there and home, you’ll also need insurance (I was happy to have one, because once I had to see a dentist, about which you can read more here), equipment, if you don’t have them (boots, backpack, sleeping bag, etc.) Don’t start your journey with less, and have about 150-200 Euros extra. In the villages, you won’t be able to pay by card, or find an ATM, so before you start your journey, make sure you have enough cash on you, and keep it safe, split into 2-3 smaller amounts, hidden in different places of your stuff.
You’ll need language knowledge. Learn at least some basic words in Spanish. It’s good if you speak English, but it’s not spoken in many places along the way, so it’s useful to learn some simple stuff, such as words for shopping, greeting others, numbers, how to book accommodation, etc. 

You really don’t need these:
- Pyjamas (Girls might need sleeping shorts, though.)
- Make-up stuff
- Pillow (You get it almost everywhere, and where you don’t, you can make one by stuffing clothes into your sleeping bag’s bag.)
- Survivor’s equipment (This isn’t the jungle. You won’t even need a compass, as it’s easy to find your way.)
- A huge pile of medicine (You can buy them here, too. It isn’t worth carrying them, except the ones you specifically need. 1-2 pills are enough till you get to the next pharmacy. The prices are similar to those at home.)
- Food (There are shops on the way, the prices are similar to those at home.)
- More than three changes of clothes
- Swimming suit (at least for men. I swam in sports underwear in streams and in the ocean.)
- Insect repellent (At least I didn’t need it in May.)
- Smart clothes (Others don’t have them either.)
- A big roll of toilet paper (They have it everywhere, and for emergency cases, it’s enough to have a 10-piece pack of paper facial tissues, which take up much less room in your bag.)

My friend, Olivier asked me to draw your attention to the fact that even though I’ve taken tons of beautiful photos, the Camino an endless joyride. Beside the tracks surrounded by heavenly scenery, there are also really ugly industrial parts, and horribly boring, straight and difficult roadside sections. This isn’t a problem at all, as it’s also part of the journey and of the adventure. They are just not nice enough for people to take photos of. In case you haven’t been to El Camino yet, enjoy the short video I’ve made during my journey. Take it as an appetizer:
Stay tuned, more useful posts will come soon about the food, washing, safety, albergues etc.

Last, but not least, thank you for reading my blog. Hopefully you’ll find a lot of useful information here that might make you adventure easier. Please, if you like what you see, click on the ’share’ button at the end of the articles, or send them to those friends of yours, who are interested in this topic. This way, the time I spend writing the blog will be time well spent.
Other useful posts worth to check:
Useful to read before the Camino