A conversation with Richard

A conversation with Richard

This is the first part of my conversation with Richard, one of the 8 “strangers” I walked the Camino Inglés with at the end of April/beginning of May. We met for the first time in Ferrol, last April 28, same as James. And the following day we all started walking together towards Santiago de Compostela.

But Richard was not a Camino newbie. He had walked the Vía de la Plata before. In this first part of our conversation, Richard shares his experience on the Vía de la Plata in 2018.

Conversation with Richard

Please tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Richard Maynard. I’m 69 years old. I live in Warwick, a small town in the centre of the UK not far from Stratford-on Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

I retired from full time working in the IT sector as a consultant in 2012 and worked a further 5 years as a freelance contractor until 2017 when I decided that it was time I stopped and concentrate on other more important things… Like myself!

I am married to Diane. We don’t have any children unfortunately but my only sister has two boys and I get a lot of enjoyment spending time with them. They ask me advice on a lot of things which makes me feel  quite useful.


The Camino Inglés was not your first Camino.

When did you first hear about the Camino and why did you decide to do it?

I first heard of the Camino in 1993 when I first visited the ‘real’ Spain with Diane, who had spent time there teaching English in the 80’s. During that time she had made friends in Palencia and León. We still visit these people on a regular basis today and are always made most welcome as is the Spanish tradition.

León is a beautiful city, with a wealth of history and culture. Walking through the streets of the old quarter of the city in 1993, I noticed metal plates in the paving shaped like scallop shells and also noticed yellow arrows painted on some walls and lampposts. They all guided you towards the cathedral.

I asked about these signs and was told about the Camino de Santiago. Over the ensuing years I researched more information about its beginnings and history. I wondered why it had endured for so many years and what there was about it that still drew people to it to walk to Santiago de Compostela.

I determined to do the Camino because I was curious about its mysterious and powerful nature.


I felt it would offer me a meaningful experience.

I have to say that, at the time,  I felt somehow dissatisfied with life even though I had been quite successful and appeared happy to external observers.

People ask me why I waited until 2018 to do my first Camino. Well, for me the Camino exists with one starting point and continues until it finishes in Santiago de Compostela outside the cathedral. I knew therefore that I could never be truly fulfilled if I walked the Camino in stages, returning every year until I had completed it. I had to do all of it in one go. But, I was working and knew I could never get sufficient time off work to do this, so I waited until I no longer had work commitments to concern me.


Why did you choose the Vía de la Plata?

The Vía de la Plata is possibly the longest of the numerous routes across Spain. It  runs from Seville in Andalucia and heads north through Mérida, Cáceres, Salamanca, Zamora and then heads North West to Ourense and finally, after 1007 Kilometres arrives in  Santiago de Compostela.

Via de la plata map


 I decided on this route firstly because I was not keen on the large number of pilgrims on the Camino Francés(the best known route) from St Jean Pied de Port on the French side of the Pyrenees. The second reason was because I am the type of person who likes to set myself challenges.


I spent a long time in the past listening to people who told me I couldn’t succeed at the things I was interested in. I don’t do this anymore!


I also wanted to discover something about myself. I guess I’m a little crazy and take risks in life.


 I wanted answers to the questions:

  • Could I do it?
  • Did I have the strength and energy to keep going to the end?
  • Could I survive walking and average of 20 -25 kilometres per day ……….. Every day!
  • How could I manage daily life with only the 6-7Kgs contents of my rucksack on my back?

I have to confess that I was very nervous about failure, although my wife said she believed I could do it and that I should try my best.  I knew that some acquaintances would try to dissuade me from going or try to convince me that I, a retired old guy, was physically incapable of such an undertaking.

So I didn’t tell anyone about my Camino until the evening before I set out from Seville, when I went onto Facebook and announced that I would head north the following morning and keep walking until I arrived in Santiago de Compostela!

As I expected, I received a lot of concerned messages about my age, and my sanity but also a lot of support which made me feel more nervous about failing, as I didn’t want to disappoint people, let alone having to listen to others saying “I told you so!” I was committed!


Tell us about your experience on the Vía de la Plata

Firstly I must say that the Camino is not just a walk, it is a life experience. We embark upon it for our own reasons. We look for resolution in our lives. We look for answers, but usually we find more questions. What I am saying is that the Camino is what it is for each individual. It is intensely personal because it is a process during which the pilgrim is confronted by themselves; they discover their strengths and overcome weaknesses.

No two Caminos can be the same. The effects of the Camino can be fundamental but different in each case.

I can say without a doubt that, for me, walking the Via de la Plata was the most powerful experience I have had in the whole of my life. I am now changed forever.

I learned so much about myself and how to change; how to open my heart and mind to the world and the people around me. How to help others and how to accept help from others. How to be tolerant and understanding of others and of myself. To be able to see yourself in context with the world, with nature, with all living things.

Life proceeds at the most simple level. You move forward using your legs, there is no other way forward. You live with what you have on your back, that is your world. You are liberated. You can then look around you and realise what you are in relation to the Camino and the world you are passing by. You realise how small a part of creation you are and yet how fortunate you are to be part of it.

I discovered something that proved very useful to me on the Camino. The first week or so was difficult. A few blisters, rain, cold, crowded albergues and a bad cold left me feeling very depressed. The worst of it was the realisation that I still had nearly 900 Kms to go until the end.

It was then I learnt a great lesson from other seasoned pilgrims.


The secret is to live your life on a daily basis. Don’t think about the distance still to go to Santiago de Compostela but focus on the day ahead. How far do you need to travel? Where are you going to sleep? Where will you eat? Do you need to wash clothes etc.?

I took this on board and immediately it seemed as if a weight had been lifted from my back. My pack seemed lighter because I knew I only had to carry it 20 kms or so. I focussed on getting a bed for the night, food and any supplies that I needed. That was all. At the end of each day, I could look at the challenges that tomorrow would bring with greater strength and determination.


You feel liberated. You only need to plan one day ahead!

The Via de la Plata has less pilgrims than the Camino Francés. As I passed through parts of Extremadura I found myself walking alone through a wilderness. I had never experienced this before. I walked for four days like this but never felt lonely or frightened. I have never felt closer to the world and to creation than at this time and would stop and allow my senses to explore my environment, sounds, sights, smells; the wind on your face the warmth of the sun upon your skin.

The Camino can be a solitary experience if you so desire and you will meet pilgrims on the road who will ask you to respect their wish for solitude. However this is not that common. For the most part, pilgrims develop an open nature and celebrate their common experience of the Camino. They share themselves with others talking about their backgrounds, their motivations, their hope for the future.

The common purpose of the pilgrim, the meaningful journey, generates a resonance that breaks down all barriers and creates  the fellowship of the Camino. To this day I maintain contact with friends I made on the Camino. People from all backgrounds and cultures who share with me knowledge of the quiet determination you develop on the road and the peace that this brings to your spirit.


Richard’s words

You’ll have to wait till next week for the rest of my conversation with Richard. In the meantime, here are some of the Spanish words he thinks you should know. You can listen to Richard explaining his choice of words and, of course, saying them in Spanish, in the audio below.

por favor (please) & (muchas) gracias (thank you)

el albergue (hostel), una pensión (guesthouse), la habitación (room)

la comida (food), el menú del día (menu of the day)

el supermercado (supermarket), la farmacia (pharmacy), la lavandería (launderette)

una mochila (backpack), una credencial (pilgrim’s passport), un sello (stamp), una compostela (certificate of completion)

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¡Buen Camino!

A conversation with James

A conversation with James

Remember I was walking with strangers? Well,  James was one of them. We met for the first time in Ferrol, last April 28. And the following day we started walking together with 7 other people. So, of course, he’s not a stranger anymore, after a week sharing conversations, laughs and struggles on the Camino Inglés.

You can read about James’ motivations to walk with us, as well as his impressions of the whole experience, in our conversation.


Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m James, from England. I grew up in Shropshire but now live in London. I enjoy travelling, learning languages, seeing new countries and meeting people. I work as a project manager in the rail industry.

When did you first hear about the Camino?

I first heard about the Camino from my Dad. He talked a bit about the route from Le Puy in France, but apart from that I knew very little.


Why did you decide to do it?

I was looking for an opportunity to learn Spanish that didn’t involve a classroom. One where I could meet people and experience Spain naturally. Walking the Camino seemed like the perfect opportunity and I’m very grateful for being able to share it with the group. To visit Galicia was also a big motivation for me.


Did you prepare somehow?

I didn’t do any preparation. I don’t recommend this approach.

Even though I try to stay physically fit, my legs and feet were not prepared for the amount of walking. By the third day, my left leg became quite swollen and it was a struggle to complete the long days, especially with a heavy weight on your back.

Thinking about what you will carry and doing some walking beforehand is a good idea.


Most people do the Camino on their own or with someone they know. You decided to do it differently, with a group of strangers. Why?

Without the organisation of the two Maria’s, I wouldn’t have done it.

I just didn’t know enough about the route, where to stay and eat, and how it works. All I had to do is turn up, walk, and enjoy Galicia. To do all of this independently would have been a lot of work. Also, walking it alone didn’t really appeal to me, I learned so much from talking to the other group members. You also have to try a bit harder, especially when it comes to speaking Spanish.


Conversation with James

 The group… or most of them, anyway

How was your experience on the Camino Inglés? Is there any particular anecdote you would like to share?

It was great to share the experience with such a friendly group of people. I really enjoyed it. Even after a hard day’s walking I was amazed by the amount of food we ate. In particular Matt’s demolition of 3 bowls of lentils for a starter. Gang and Ewa also had impressive appetites and Greg’s fondness for pulpo (Galician octopus) have all left a lasting impression on me.



You already knew Spanish before our walk. Would you recommend learning at least some Spanish before doing the Camino?

Knowing some Spanish beforehand is an advantage, but I wouldn’t let it stop you from doing the Camino. Regardless of your level, if your objective is to improve your Spanish, you will definitely do that on the Camino.


James’ Spanish words

As I usually do, I asked James to pick a few words that were important to him during the Camino. And this is his choice:

Whilst walking the Camino, the most important words and phrases for me were those of encouragement from a very kind Galician lady:

Ánimo y fuerza: courage and strength
Mente positiva: positive mind
Estás llegando a la meta: 
you are reaching the goal
Campeón: champion
Que descanses: 
you rest
Cuida tus pies: 
take care of your feet
conversation with James





…and we made it to Santiago!

A conversation with Catherine

A conversation with Catherine

Catherine had been following this blog for a while before she decided to join my Challenge last summer. She was preparing for the Camino Portugués later in the year. As you may already know, I live on the Camino Portugués, so we thought we might actually meet in person when she passed through my town. Unfortunately, that was not possible in the end, but we still managed to have this conversation online, so you can now read the story of her Caminos.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
CatherineI live outside Portland, Oregon in the US. I moved here two and a half years ago from Seattle after taking an early retirement and now I have plenty of time to travel! This part of the US, the Pacific Northwest, is beautiful and I love living here. Seventy miles west of us is the Pacific Ocean and 70 miles east of us is Mount Hood. We now live in a planned community where I can walk to almost everything I need. I feel very fortunate.
When did you first hear about the Camino? When/why did you decide to do it?
Both my father and my brother recommended the movie “The Way” to me several years ago but I didn’t know anything about it and it was probably about a year later that I finally watched it. Like so many others, I became captivated with the idea of doing the Camino. A year or so later, “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago” was screened near me and after that I was fully obsessed with the idea of doing the Camino. After I retired my husband told me to stop talking about it and just go! I started out on my own from Saint Jean Pied de Port on September 20, 2017 and finished in Santiago de Compostela on November 4, 2017, the day after my 60th birthday. Even well into my journey I didn’t know why I was there – I just felt “called” to be there. Eventually I knew that my own soul had called me there. I loved everything about the journey and wished that I could have kept walking and walking.
Did you prepare either physically or mentally? How?
I was totally obsessed with preparing for my first Camino, although it would have been good to put as much energy into training as I put into gear testing! I spent hours and hours reading books and following Facebook groups. I thoroughly enjoyed the planning. The CAMIGAS Facebook group was especially helpful to me. The discussions there gave me the confidence to walk the Camino alone.
That was not your only Camino. Tell us about your other Camino.
Last September I was fortunate to walk the Camino Portugués with a friend from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. We started on the Coastal Route and then cut over to Valença along the Minho River. There were certainly some stunning places along the Camino Francés but I found the Camino Portugués to be more consistently pretty and I loved that nearly all the churches in Portugal were open. The people, in Portugal especially, were very friendly and helpful and of course the Portuguese pastries are worth the trip! Fortunately my traveling companion agreed to learn some Portuguese because I found the language very difficult. I took over once we were in Spain.
How do both experiences compare?
I still think of the Francés in 2017 as “My Camino” because, for me, walking 12 days on the Camino Portugués didn’t match the transformational experience of walking for 46 days on the Francés. I’m grateful for having had the time, health and resources to make that journey. On both the Camino Francés and the Camino Portugués I felt like I was surrounded by kindness and I have tried to bring that into my daily life at home. There is (generally) no reason not to be kind. And I now smile and say hello to everyone I pass on the sidewalk. Well, not on the busy city sidewalks!
Did you learn any Spanish prior to the Camino? Do you think this had any impact on your Camino?
Before my first Camino I learned some basic Spanish vocabulary recommended for peregrinos, but I discovered as soon as I got to Spain that it was pretty inadequate. I might have been able to read a little but I certainly didn’t understand what people were saying. It’s true that you don’t need to know Spanish to do a Camino but I wished I had been able to communicate better. I would have liked to have connected more with the Spanish people along the way.
Any difference between your first and second Camino?
So before I went back last year I made more of an effort to learn more Spanish vocabulary. Doing the Challenge with you taught me the pronunciation rules and that gave me a lot more confidence learning new words. I don’t know if I will have the opportunity to go back to Spain but I haven’t given up learning Spanish. In a couple of weeks I’ll be starting my second session of Spanish Through the Arts, a class offered at my community center where we practice Spanish through songs and dances and coloring and doing little plays. It’s great fun!
Catherine’s words
I usually ask my guests to pick a few Spanish words or phrases: the ones they think every pilgrim should know before their Camino, the ones they knew, the ones they learnt… Catherine chose
  • one she learned along the Way: Una cama baja, very useful if you prefer the lower bunk in the albergues.
  • Her personal favourite: un café con leche grande, por favor. Does this need further explanations?
  • And finally, two more she wished she knew for her first Camino: a la derecha (to the right) and a la izquierda (to the left). I know a la izquierda is not the easiest to pronounce and I also know it was also a bit of a challenge for Catherine, so I really appreciate her mustering the courage to record herself and allowing me to post it here. But I must say she did an excellent job. Her pronunciation is impeccable. Well done, Catherine!
Una cama baja, por favor Café con leche grande, por favor A la derecha A la izquierda Make sure you don’t miss any posts by subscribing for free here. That way, when a new post is out, you will get it in your inbox. And… you get access to some exclusive content too. I promise I won’t send you any spam.

¡Buen Camino!

A conversation with Julia

A conversation with Julia

This week I’ve been chatting to Julia, a German pilgrim who walked the Camino Francés after she finished college. Read the whole conversation to find out how the Camino changed her life.

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Julia, I am 35 years old and I am from Northern Germany. I’ve been living in Spain now for four years in a small town called Oliva, which is on the eastern coast, with my husband and our two children. I am a German teacher and I run an online language agency: www.milengua.com

When did you first hear about the Camino and why did you decide to do it?

I’ve always been up to traveling and especially to hiking and trekking. After finishing my university degree in German Philology I decided to go on a trip on my own and among all the different long distance trekking roads I chose the Camino de Santiago as it seemed to me physically not too difficult but very interesting. Besides, I wanted to get to know Spain, where I hadn’t been before. Also, I had a friend who did a part of the Camino and he highly recommended it.


Did you prepare either physically or mentally? How?

Basically, I got prepared by hiking on every possible occasion. Moreover, I was into running and biking at this time so I found myself in physically good condition. Mentally?  I don’t know. I had a book with the single legs of the way. But to be honest, I just started the journey without thinking too much about it. I was just excited about being outside everyday and walking as far as I could.


Tell us about your Camino. How was your experience?

It was certainly one of my best experiences ever. I met a lot of wonderful people and even though you only shared a couple of days together until each one went on at her or his speed, it felt always like a lifetime. You get to know people that deeply in an incredible short time and I remember almost all of them now 5 years later.

Another deep impression that I will bear forever is the feeling of freedom and peace of mind. You only have to walk. That’s your only mission for several weeks. Enjoying the simplicity of life and the beauty of nature made me feel really “light”.


How did it change your life? Is there any particular anecdote you would like to share?

My anecdote is a romantic one: I met my future husband here, to be precise, in Molinaseca near Ponferrada. From there we went the remaining way together to Santiago and later to Fisterra, where we separated. More than 2 weeks together on the Camino, that’s like 2 years in real time. We stayed in contact ever since but it took us 18 month until we met again. Soon after that I decided to move to Spain  – and I stayed.


Did you learn any Spanish prior to the Camino? Did that have any impact on your Camino?

Actually I didn’t know any Spanish before. I learned quickly how to order breakfast, to ask for free beds and to wish a “buen camino”. But it was actually a pity not to be able to talk to the locals. One time I met an older man walking with his dog and as we went the same way for quite a while, we started a conversation. He didn’t speak English so we communicated with gestures, by pointing at things; he showed me photos he had in his wallet and we drew in the sand with sticks we found.  I wished we really could talk as he seemed to be a very interesting person.

Without any Spanish you stay mainly with other pilgrims but you will miss the option to talk with the locals which is basically an important aspect if you want to get to know a country for real.  Another point is the medical assistance, if needed. Whether it’s at a doctors or just in the pharmacy: Some basic vocabulary to explain what’s your problem is more than helpful.



Julia’s words

I usually ask my guests to pick 5-10 Spanish words or phrases: the ones they think every pilgrim should know before their Camino, the ones they knew, the ones they learnt… Julia chose what she learnt on the Camino,  mainly food orders and one phrase that the Spanish pilgrims liked to say when they had wine for dinner: El vino te pone fino, peregrino.
I must confess I’d never heard this phrase before and it can be interpreted in several ways, as it plays on the meanings of the word fino, as well as a couple of expressions that contain it. It could simply mean that wine makes you drunk. But it could also mean that wines makes you wittier!
If you would like to know more about either the menú del día or menú peregrino, check this post.
The word cigüeña means stork and Julia learnt it because she was surprised at how many of these birds she saw while on the Camino. According to her, there are not many storks left in Germany.

Make sure you don’t miss any posts by subscribing for free here. That way, when a new post is out, you will get it in your inbox. And… you get access to some exclusive content too. I promise I won’t send you any spam.


¡Buen Camino!

A conversation with David

A conversation with David

A conversation with David |

Less than ten years ago David had not heard about the Camino. Now he’s planning for his 5th. And that’s not his only connection to the Camino. If you’re curious about David’s story, read our conversation!


Please tell us a bit about yourself

My name is David and I’m from Dublin, Ireland. I love to write, and I have been keeping my own blog ClearskiesCamino.com for over 6 years. I also love the outdoors and have recently taken up photography. I love trying new things, and new gadgets!


When did you first hear about the Camino? When or why did you decide to do it?

I heard about the Camino de Santiago by pure accident! I hope your readers believe in fate. In late 2010, I was handed a leaflet with the words “Walk the Camino” framed across the top. I thought to myself, “this will be a great challenge” and I instantly registered. I raised €3000 for a mental health charity in Ireland and on the 6th of June 2011, we would start our Camino from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela on the  – the final stretch!

At the time, walking 10 kilometres was a struggle for me so walking 15 kilometres, 4 or 5 days in a row would really test me. But it was achievable. I also wanted to see another part of the world, to see the culture, to hear the language and see how people tick. All in all, it was an enjoyable week, despite the blisters.

We had a guide, a great guy from Australia who got us around. He had the Spanish even though I had a few simple phrases to get me by like Gracias, ¿Qué tal?Buenos días and of course ¿Dónde está?

I loved Santiago and was blown away when I arrived under the archway into the Praza do Obradoiro– it’s not something you see every day. I have my Compostela framed in my apartment in Dublin and I will treasure it.


You’ve done several Caminos after that. What is it about the Camino that makes you want to come back?

On return to Dublin, I felt that this was my one and only Camino experience and it was time to experience something else. I would return to work the following Monday and life would go on. It wasn’t until later in the year, however, when I received an email from the Australian guide checking up on me, just to see how I was.

At this stage, the Camino was just a memory but over the course of a week, a simple hello had changed my mind. I suppose if it wasn’t for his email I wouldn’t be where I am today, who knows?

Over the last 6 years, I have walked various parts of the Camino Francés and more recently I have walked from A Guarda to Santiago with my brother on the Portuguese Coastal Route.

I find the Camino is a great way to get away from strains of modern daylife. You can experience simplicity in all its forms – get up in the morning, carry all your belongings, just walk, and rest when you are tired. It’s as simple as that.

But the people you meet make it for me, and it is so easy to meet lifelong friends here. I also like the idea that I walk in the footsteps of thousands of people before me. I am walking from A Coruña in May – a route taken by pilgrims from Ireland in medieval times (for more info on this route: Camino Inglés).


How have your experiences been so far?

I have had very positive experiences so far, but with all things in life you learn as you go on. On my first Camino, I was badly prepared and suffered with blisters but over the years, you learn how to treat them and buy the suitable equipment. My Camino from León to Sarria in 2012 was much more enjoyable I found.


Is there any particular anecdote you would like to share?

On my Camino from Logroño to León in 2013, I met a large Camino family and we still keep in touch. There is one story that strikes a chord to this day and it is from May 2015. I was walking from Belorado in La Rioja to Molinaseca, just short of Ponferrada and had met a good bunch of pilgrims, from Ireland, Belgium, Holland and England.

We had reached Sahagún and I had run out of money before checking in at the albergue. I went to the ATM to get some more. An error message appeared. My heart sank. I asked the bank teller inside: “¿Hablas inglés?” “Yes”. OK. So there was a problem with the card. Now what…?

Hmm! I walked back to the albergue where the rest of the gang were. I explained my predicament and they said not to worry. The offer was there to pay for any expenses until I got fixed up. Three evenings later in León, I had money wired to me via Western Union. The Camino provides! I have always been grateful for my peregrino friends.


Walking the Camino is not your only connection to the pilgrimage to Santiago. Tell us about Camino Society Ireland and Shamrocks and Shells.

That’s correct. As I mentioned above, I have been writing since 2012 at ClearskiesCamino.com about my experiences on the Camino. I love writing and giving people hints and tips about how to prepare for their Caminos. In 2015, I became a member of Camino Society Ireland as a way of giving back and more recently, I started to volunteer. I just thought it was the next step after walking my 4thCamino and planning for my 5th.

Camino Society Ireland offers an opportunity to all those interested in the Camino to meet and share practical information and experiences. We meet for monthly walks throughout Ireland as preparation for a Camino and in the past, there have been talks, films nights and Information days for those who are preparing.

Shamrocks and Shells is Camino Society Ireland’s quarterly newsletter. Its first issue was published in Spring 2018. It was designed with the intention of publishing stories from pilgrims, news from Santiago and the Camino and practical advice on equipment. The great thing is when I normally come home from a Camino, I am always talking about life on the Camino, much to the bemusement of my family. So, if it is easy to talk about it, then it should be easy to write about. We are also looking to introduce more articles en español.

Our newsletter can be found at shamrocksandshells.wordpress.com.

Did you learn any Spanish prior to the Camino? Do you think knowing (or not) Spanish had any impact on your Camino?

Yes, I tried Duolingo and several podcasts. I had some vocabulary, but it was difficult to use these in conversation. That said, I still use Duolingo today and find it useful.

My knowledge of Spanish prior to my first Camino was limited, however I found myself more switched on while in Spain. I remember routinely asking the guide what various items meant in English. I suppose I would have enjoyed it more if I was able to talk to the local Spanish people. By just saying Hola and Gracias, I felt a disconnect.

However, now that my level of vocabulary has improved through the years, I feel a lot more confident being on the Camino.

David’s words

Conversation with David

I asked David to pick a few Spanish words that she thought you should all know before you start your Camino and this is his list:

Sello: stamp (the ones on letters and on your credencial).

Credencial: Pilgrim Passport

Compostela: the certificate you can get if you walk the last 100km of any Camino

Shops and useful questions

¿Dónde está…?: where is…?

…el albergue: hostel

…la tienda: store

…el supermercado: supermarket

…la panadería: bakery

…la pastelería: cake shop

…el cajero automático: cash machine (ATM)

…la farmacia: chemist

 Lo siento, no sé: I’m sorry, I don’t know

Si, hablo un poquito de español: Yes, I speak a little bit of Spanish.

Perdón: Pardon / Excuse me

¿De dónde eres?: Where are you from? – Great way to meet people

¿Cuánto cuesta?: How much does it cost?

Comida: food

Patatas bravas:  Fried potatoes with a spicy sauce

Jamón: ham

Pescado: fish

Pulpo a la Gallega: boiled octopus (with salt, paprika and olive oil; and served with boiled potatoes)

Chorizo: cured smoked sausage

Paella: rice with seafood and/or chicken

Tortilla española: Spanish omelette (with eggs, potatoes and, in most cases, onion)

La cuenta, por favor: asking for the bill.


Today’s Spanish words & phrases

About David

David Smith

My name is David, I live in Dublin and I am a pilgrim. I started to blog way back in 2008 writing about many different things, but in 2011, I discovered the Camino de Santiago. Since then, I return to the north of Spain to walk a part of this amazing trail, to take in its culture, to meet people and of course, give my spirit some food for thought.

The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage but, in my eyes, it is also a challenge, a way of meeting people and a great way of getting away from the hustle and bustle of modern day life.

I love writing and talking about the various Caminos to Santiago and if you are one of the many people who has walked these routes, you may well feel the same. I also write and edit the Camino Society Ireland’s newsletter Shamrocks and Shells.

You can find me on Instagram @clearskiescamino also and I use this account the most while on Camino.


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¡Buen Camino!

A conversation with Susan

A conversation with Susan

Conversation with Susan |

Susan had been longing to walk the Camino Francés for a long time but she had to put it off a couple of times due to different problems. She finally planned it for September 2016… only to find out that it was not possible again! She was very disappointed, but… she came across the Camino Inglés and decided that was the Camino for her. Read our conversation to know the whole story.


Please tell us a bit about yourself

I’m Susan, I love adventures and learning things. What I don’t like is exercise and gyms, because it can quickly get very boring. I love to be healthy and fit, and I found that walking and hiking is just right for me. One hour in the gym vs four hours walking, there’s no contest there. I’ve been in IT all my life, and my job was to make computers easy for users, so that they could get the solution when they needed it, and where they required it. I am also a bestselling author of two books, a hiker, and now an obsessed grandmother. I am thinking of taking my four-year old granddaughter on my next camino!


When did you first hear about the Camino? When did you decide to do it?

I was going to India to visit friends, we were going to hike in the Nilgiris, a mountain range in South India. In the flight out, I saw “The Way” – and thought nothing of it. I had never heard of the Camino, and now suddenly it was everywhere. I became more and fascinated and decided to do it in 2014.


Did you prepare either physically or mentally? How?

Oh yes, I walked every day, in different types of terrain, and gradually built up stamina and endurance. By the end of 3 months, I could walk 10 kms in 3 hours carrying a 6 kg backpack. I also ate for energy, too supplements to protect my joints and build up my immunity. Mentally, I began attending pilgrim events and meetups and met others who had done long distance walks.


You were not planning to walk the Camino Inglés initially. How was your experience? Is there any particular anecdote you would like to share?

The Camino Inglés turned out to be an exquisite experience, with just enough challenge to push you. It is not an easy stroll. Parts can be challenging, and some of the stages are long. It can be long way between bars and cafés con leche! It was quiet too, and we saw only a few pilgrims. I loved Betanzos, the walled city and the medieval centre is authentic, and while it is ancient, the life within the square in the evening is pumping with music, cafés and families enjoying themselves.


You then wrote a guide for the English Way. When/why did you decide to write it and how was the process?

I decided to write it because I couldn’t find accurate documentation on the way. The distances were incorrect, and often, so were the directions. I had kept a brief journal on the way, with notes on distances and landmarks. I was also doing live streams everyday from the way. When I got back, when I was sorting the photos and videos, I kept hearing myself say – I didn’t know this – I should write a book about it…So I did.

(Read my review of Susan’s The Camino Inglés: 6 days (or less) to Santiago).


Did you learn Spanish prior to the Camino?

Yes, I tried with DuoLingo. It gave me some words. But when we reached Spain, we could understand nothing. I did print out a list of sentences and words, and I used this to communicate in a few words.


Do you think your knowledge of Spanish had any impact on your Camino?

Yes, I think I would have enjoyed it much more, and had a chance to really talk to the people – who were such friendly and helpful people – but we couldn’t talk much! Learning more than Gracias and Por Favor will make a huge difference to your experience.

But don’t let a lack of Spanish stop you!


I asked Susan to pick a few Spanish words that she thought you should all know before you start your Camino and this is her list:

  • Common words: el Camino, credencial (Pilgrim’s passport), sello (stamp), Compostela (certificate of having walked at least the last 100km of any Camino).


  • Greetings: Hola (hello), buenos días (good morning), buenas tardes (good afternoon/evening), gracias (thank you), disculpe (excuse me), lo siento (I’m sorry).


  • ¿Dónde está…?: it means “where is…? and you can combine it with other words to ask about the location of anything. Susan has chosen albergue, el Camino and cathedral.


And now you can actually hear Susan say all these words in Spanish! She does a fantastic job too! What about you? Have you been practicing?


Today’s Spanish words for the Camino


About Susan Jagannath

Conversation with Susan Jagannath

Susan Jagannath successfully combined a passion for reading, a love of writing and a fascination for technology, to create a career in technical writing. With over 50 technical manuals (not) to her name, she finally decided it was time to write the books she wanted to write under her own name.

As an army brat, her childhood included seven different schools, three universities and a couple of emergency evacuations from conflict zones. Travel and adventure were a normal part of life. She now believes in seizing every opportunity to have a new adventure. Whether it’s camping on the beach in Australia, trekking in the Himalayas, kayaking in Queensland, whitewater rafting down the Ganges, or walking the Camino in Spain, her philosophy is to pack it into one or two weeks to create memories for a lifetime, and inspire others to see that the right time for adventure is right now.

Her first bestseller came from her walk in Spain, The Camino Ingles: 6 days to Santiago. What also happened is that Susan fell in love with Spain, and all things Spanish, and is busy making plans to return for a longer time, and maybe, another Camino.

Susan is now on the next adventure of her life, writing books that are not technical manuals, training to be an awesome grandmother, and helping others write and publish their own bestsellers.

To learn more about Susan Jagannath (and to download the map set), you can go to https://www.susanjagannath.com

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¡Buen Camino!