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The Camino de Santiago - julia_t begins her pilgrimage. Come join me...

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I am fizzing with excitement!

In less than 4 weeks I will be setting off on the first of my Camino stages, from St Jean Pied de Port in France, and planning to reach Pamplona in the 6 days I have, walking around 10km per day (apart from day 2, which I have doubts about).

I first became aware of the Camino de Santiago back in the 1970s, as a young teen reading a translated French bodice-ripping romance! Does anyone else remember the Catherine novels by Juliette Benzoni? Anyway, in the fourth, Catherine sets out on a pilgrimage to Santiago, and I can still recall the moment when she thrusts her staff into the ground, throws back her head and sets out singing with a heart full of hope. (PS I went to a RC boarding school, and the nuns would confiscate these books if they found us girls reading them!)

Over the years, various references to the Camino have come into into my life, and more so since I joined Fodors in 2005 and read about members walking some or all of it - cruiseluv, lreynold1, lincasanova (who offered me encouragement), and in particular my dear friend Barb who walked from Sarria to Santiago in 2013. So I gradually became aware that the Camino was calling me...

I thought I would walk it when I retired and had the time, but then various physical issues raised their painful heads, and I began to think it would never happen. I posted something here back in 2010 to that effect.

It was a chance meeting with a French-Canadian pilgrim I shared a taxi with at Toulouse airport earlier this year when I realised I didn't have to do it all at once; living in England with easy access to France and Spain, I could do it bit by bit. So that is what I'm doing!

I am not particularly religious, though I do have a faith. I don't feel the need to go to church to validate my beliefs. I am Church of England, but I was educated in Roman Catholic convent schools. When I applied to the Confraternity of Saint James for my credencial (pilgrim passport) I put my reason down as spiritual. But it is becoming more of a religious pilgrimage as it approaches. The son of one of my very best friends is very sick at the moment, and I strongly want to dedicate this part of my walk to him. But here is where it starts to get personal and I am not going into any further detail.

On 16th September I shall fly to Bilbao - (I originally planned to start from Roncesvalles, but have since changed my mind) - and will get a bus to Pamplona and thence another bus to St Jean Pied de Port. I shall stay my first night in SJPdP, the second at the Refuge Orisson which is 8km up in the Pyrenees.

The third night I shall be in Roncesvalles - though whether I get there having walked the 16km over the Pyrenees, or going back down to SJPdP and getting the bus, I don't know yet.

The thing is, I have sciatica in my left lower back/hip. I have plantar fasciitis in my right foot. I have achilles tendonitis in both heels/ankles. My knees are creaky, and the big toe I broke (well, smashed into 6 pieces!) 2 years ago gives me trouble and hurts when I walk. A sensible person would not consider walking 10km a day for 6 days. Would they? Well, when was I ever sensible! And the Camino is calling me, so loud, I have to go and make my start. Maybe if I was going to be walking for 6 weeks all the way to Santiago I would have second thoughts. But I have discovered kinesiology tape and it is magic stuff.

Anyway, this is just background stuff. And I already have flights booked for the end of April 2016 to walk the second stage of My Camino. This is something I have to do. And I so want to do it even though I shall probably walk in pain.

I am going to be starting a Facebook page on which I plan to do a daily diary with photos - and you are all invited to join me en route! I will post the link nearer the time.

In the meantime, I welcome your comments here.

Please wish me 'Buen Camino'.

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