5 things you need to know about Spain

5 things you need to know about Spain

When you travel to a foreign country it’s easy to make mistakes because we don’t know how things work over there. It’s easy to assume that everybody does things the same way we do and this can lead to difficult or embarrassing situations.

So, what are the things you need to know about Spain? There are more, but let’s start with these 5:

1. It’s not siesta time!

I read a lot of comments about siesta in Camino forums: 

“Everything was closed because it was siesta time” 

“There were no people on the streets because it was siesta time” 

It’s almost like anything unfamiliar you experience gets blamed on the siesta. Sorry to burst your stereotypes but… siesta is not really a thing in Spain. At least not the way you think it is. If you go to a shop at 3:00 or 4:00pm and it’s closed it is not because it’s siesta time. It’s because it’s lunch time. 

Yes. Lunch time. But that’s way more than the usual one hour lunch break, you may say. Well, lunch in Spain is the main meal of the day, quite often a 3-course meal. So, one hour is not enough. Also, traditionally, people would go home for lunch. Not everybody can do that these days, especially in the bigger cities, but many people still do. For more details about eating times, go to nº2.

And if you go for a walk around town at 6:00 or 7:00pm in the summertime and the place is deserted, it’s not siesta time. People could be either at the beach or pool or simply at home, staying away from el calor (the heat).

We don’t put our pyjamas on, get into bed and sleep for 2 or 3 hours in the middle of the day, as many foreigners seem to think. Most of us don’t even take siestas at all. Those who do, it’s mostly a 10-15 minute nap on the sofa. So, por favor, if you find shops closed or streets empty, don’t blame it on the siesta. 

2. Don’t criticise our meal times. Try to adapt to them instead.

As I already mentioned, lunch is the main meal of the day, quite often a 3-course meal. It is usually served between 1:30 and 3:30 or 4:00pm.

You’ll have trouble finding dinner  before 8:30pm. 

The picture shows average kitchen hours, although they may very from place to place.

Instead of complaining because dinner is too late, why don’t you try the Spanish way? Have lunch when you get to your destination for the day; shower, rest and and then you can have something light for dinner, like a drink and a tapa or two.

3. Avoid criticising Spanish customs, even those that we, Spaniards, criticise. 

This is like family: you may complain about them but when an outsider criticises them, you feel compelled to defend them. Same thing here: I may disagree with that particular custom but if you, an outsider, criticise it, I may feel forced to defend it. How would you feel if we went to your country and started criticising what you do?

“Why do you not have a proper 3-course meal for lunch?”

“Oh, so you don’t eat tortilla de patatas? That’s weird!”

“Shops close at 6:00pm? Ridiculous!”

Not nice, right? For me, one of the beauties of travelling is to get to see and experience different things, eat different foods… Embrace the difference and enjoy it!

 

4. Manners, please!

Don’t go over the top with your gracias and por favor. I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t use those words, but we don’t use them half as much as in other cultures. Once or twice per conversation is fine. More than that is too much and you’re going to make the other person uncomfortable. This doesn’t mean we’re rude or don’t have manners. We just express it in different ways.

5. Yes, I’m greeting you.

We might not say please and thank you as much as you do, but we probably greet each other more, even total strangers: you go into a shop, you greet the shop assistant; go into a doctor’s waiting room, you greet the people who are already there; get into a lift with strangers, you greet them.

A simple hola is fine or, depending on the time of the day, you can also add buenos días (in the morning, until lunch time -Spanish lunch time), buenas tardes (in the evening) or buenas noches (later in the evening, from 9:00pm roughly).

 

These are just 5 basic things you need to know before you travel to Spain. There are more, especially around food, but they would make this post too long and we’ll leave them for another occasion. If, on the other hand, you would like to know whether it’s OK or not to tip and how much is appropriate, you can check this post.

 

 

Today’s words

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 Randall

A conversation with Randall

He was diagnosed with Stage IV Prostate Cancer in 2015. He fought it. Five years on, he walked the Camino with a mission: raise awareness about the disease and encourage men to get screened. Read my conversation with Randall to find out more.

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Hola amigos, mi nombre es Randy. I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and went to Damien HS, an Irish Christian Brothers school –  namesake Saint Damien, the savior of the Lepers on Molokai. Moved to California in 1979 and attended Loyola Marymount University, run by the Jesuits. Stayed in California and attended USC School of Dentistry – not the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela  🙂

In 2014, at a too young age of 57, I had done the Long Beach, CA marathon. I had a PSA test at 555.2 (under 4 is normal) and my journey began.

 

When did you first hear about the Camino? You had been running marathons for years. So, why did you decide to walk the Camino?

I had seen the movie “The Way” in the early 2000s and was, as many have been, inspired by that poignant story of a Dad walking the Camino in memory of his son.

A dental patient told me that she was going to Madrid to teach English this year and that sparked an idea about doing The Camino. I did some online research, contacted my son, who lives in London, and suggested that we do it together.

I found out that September tends to be cooler and less traveled. I knew that September is Prostate Cancer Awareness month, and my almost five year survival with Stage IV Prostate Cancer was upcoming. 

 

This would be a perfect time for me to walk/bond with my son, spread PCa awareness, and maybe get a man screened. Since the diagnosis in 01/2015, I’ve had signs on my back at marathons (31 so far) telling my saga, urging men to get screened, and more recently – honoring those taken.

 

Did you prepare either physically or mentally? How?

I ordered hiking shoes online and walked four days per week either with my wife or up at my other dental office for over two months. My wife and I even did a walk, eat, walk to prep for 9 miles to simulate life on The Camino. I knew that marathon fitness (151 so far) would confer a base but I didn’t know how a backpack would affect me. Doing a marathon entails mental and physical discipline and I knew that would really help in the hike. 

 

A conversation with Randall

Tell us about your Camino. How was your experience? Is there any particular anecdote you would like to share?

My son’s new wife and a friend decided to walk with us. The Camino was a wonderful contemplative, spiritual, bonding, and life affirming experience. We disconnected from the real world and connected with nature and each other.

 

I had a sign en español on my back and that sparked a conversation with numerous Peregrinos. I also placed Blue Ribbons on The Camino and a group of Spaniards in Portomarín asked why. I told them in my so-so Spanish “Tengo cáncer de próstata estadio 4 desde 2015” (I have Stage 4 prostate cancer since 2015).  They asked how I was doing and I communicated that estoy bien (I’m OK) and the reason for being out there.

 

At one point, my son and I had eaten possibly mejillones malos (bad mussels). One of that quartet below had not seen me one day on The Camino and left me an Instagram message Oye, ¿dónde estás? (Hey, where are you?). We caught up with them at another rest/sello/cerveza/tortilla stop and I told them I was fine, toasted them with a beer and took a group pic.

This was such a great experience; strangers on The Camino became friends/supporters all because of The Camino. She messaged me Me alegro que hayas disfrutado tanto aquí. Ha sido un placer conocerte . Mucha suerte y buen viaje” (I’m glad you have enjoyed it so much here. It has been a pleasure to meet you. Good luck and safe trip). 

conversation with Randall

 Did you learn any Spanish prior to the Camino? Do you think this had any impact on your Camino?

I had four years of Spanish in High School and one year in College, but still had to review quite a bit. Spanish for the Camino was so very helpful in refreshing my long unused Spanish skills. Knowing some Spanish is very beneficial on The Camino; you can engage/communicate, and bond better knowing key words or phrases.

Randall’s words

  • First, some general vocabulary such as greetings and other words you can use in many conversations.

Hola: hello

¿Dónde esta?: where is it?

Buenos días: good morning

Buenas tardes: good afternoon/evening

Muchas gracias: thank you very much

Por favor: please

De nada: you’re welcome (after someone says thank you).

Vale: OK.

Está bien: it is OK/fine.

Claro: of course

  • Some food and drink related words too:

Cerveza: beer 

Caña: a glass of beer

Vino blanco: white wine

Vino tinto: red wine

Tinto de verano: it literally means summer red and it’s a drink made with red wine and soda; very common in the summer (verano), hence the name.

Pulpo: octopus (and if you want to learn how to prepare it, check this post). 

Mejillones: mussels 

Pimientos de Padrón: Padrón peppers

Jamón: ham

Bocadillo: sandwich made with baguette-type of bread, not with sliced bread.

Tortilla: Spanish omelette, with eggs and potatoes (you can find the recipe here).

La cuenta: the bill (at a restaurant, mainly). 

More of Randall’s adventure on : #chinononcamino  / @Dockam57 on Instagram

 

I hope that my Camino adventure “makes a ripple” and maybe a man’s life saved. 

 

The Camino is a metaphor for your own life. The Fleetwood Mac song says “Go your own way”. We all have our own “Camino” that we are on; how do we do it, who do we meet and what impact can you make?

 

Buen Camino, Buen Viaje, y vive una gran vida


PS. I’m signed up for the Long Beach, CA marathon again next month. I’ll celebrate my unofficial five year survival then! (old data said only 28%). Also, doing the New York City Marathon in November (my 4th in a row, raising over $14,000 for ZERO).

To learn more about Randall’s story, you can check these:

 

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 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)

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. 

 

¡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.

 

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.

 

 

¡Buen Camino!