Three Weeks to Takeoff!

Three weeks from now, Margaret, Brian and I should be in the Toronto airport and lining up to get on our Air France jet. Are we excited??? I leave that to your imagination!

Today Brian and I and most of the province of Ontario, or at least southern Ontario, are rejoicing in temperatures above zero. In fact, here at Cobble Beach, we reached an amazing 10C, not minus, plus 10C. How fabulous is that! We skied for nearly two hours, wearing our backpacks, ever training for the great walk.

We leave March 30th and arrive at Charles de Gaulle in Paris at 8AM on the 31st. We are hoping our flight will not be delayed in the least, as we have to catch a Train Grande Vitesse at CDG at 10:19AM for Bordeaux where Eliane will pick us up and drive us to St. Jean Pied de Port. How awesome is that! Merci, Eliane! Just in case, we paid the extra for an exchangeable train ticket, but we hope not to have to use that feature.

Margaret has been doing far more walking wearing her full backpack than we have, but hopefully Brian and I will be up to the challenge. Our daily crosscountry skiing has to be good for something. Eliane hopes to walk some of the way with us as well.

Some have asked, “Do you really plan on walking 800 kilometres in 34 days?” Yes, we do, but we accept all prayers and best wishes that we will succeed without blisters, without injuries, in great health and with a minimal amount of rain. Is that asking too much?? Actually we want to make it all the way to Finistera, on the Atlantic coast, another one hundred kilometers, but given our timeframe, that last bit may have to be by bus.

The only accommodations that we have booked are at St. Jean Pied de Port on March 31st and at the end at Santiago de Compostela on May 5th and at Barcelona on May 6th. Our flight leaves Barcelona for Paris-Toronto on May 7th and with the miracle of time change, we will arrive in Toronto on May 7th. No, we did not leave enough time to do Barcelona justice, and perhaps not a number of places in between, but we are looking forward to our grand adventure!

I have been reading about the Camino during the past six months and share these titles with your here, should you wish to see what others have had to say. I have listed them in the order that I liked them the most. All are memoirs.

All The Good Pilgrims by Robert Ward (Canadian) 2007 – I read this after his other title mentioned below. This one is about the people the author met on three different Camino pilgrimages. This author has a blog and another book is on its way. A feel good book, even when I cried about one of the stories.

The Way Is Made By Walking by Arthur Paul Boers (Dutch) 2007 – love the title, the book was lyrical, very enjoyable, a mixture of memoir and spiritual challenges by a Mennonite leader.

Walk in a Relaxed Manner by Joyce Rupp (American) (2005) The author shares her life lessons from the Camino. Even if you never plan on doing a lengthy hike anywhere, this is an inspirational book.

I’m Off Then by Hape Kerkeling (German) 2009 – a comedian, overweight and not very fit. If he can do this; so, can I! A travelogue that tells of the places along the way as well as his own self-discovery.

Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho (Brazilian) 2009 – if you have read any books by this author, you know you are in for a bizarre treat! A blend of engaging fantasy, memoir and humanist philosopy,

Spanish Steps, Travels with My Donkey 2005 by Tim Moore (British) – humorous and after reading this, I don’t know why anyone would do the trip with a donkey! Travelogue with historical tidbits.

What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim by Jane Christmas (American) 2007 – a humorous read. Margaret thought it a rather discouraging one. Certainly it made hostels sound pretty disgusting, especially the bathrooms. We have heard that there are some auberges that are better than others. Also insight into attempting to do this with a large group. Not a good idea!

Virgin Trails, A Secular Pilgrimage by Robert Ward (Canadian) 2002 – the longest chapter is devoted to the Camino, but many other European pilgrimages are described. I thank Kimiko for sharing this book. I really like the author’s style. Very readable. The only reason it is listed last is that only part of the book is about the Camino.

If you are looking for more info on the Camino, there are, of course, Facebook pages  blogs in abundance. An interesting blog is one written by a 75 year old woman who has just completed her tenth Camino in ten years. See Margaret Meredith’s:  Why she did the same Camino Frances year after year when there are so many other routes to choose from, and many of them in winter, is something I do not understand. Maybe I am about to learn!

A few websites to check out….   Info here at the Canadian Company of Pilgrims to order your scallop shell badge and Camino Credencial (Passport to be stamped to show you really travelled the Camino)  Of course there are many apps. We have this one on our IPad. There are many book versions. Margaret bought the Brierly Guide for the Camino Frances.

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Training for the Camino at Cobble Beach on March 9, 2015. A balmy 10C but still plenty of snow!



  1. I know you will have a great pilgrimage. I will think positive thoughts for your tootsies, i.e., that they will not be too tender. You sound so positive. A great way to enter into a challenge.

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