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Since summiting Mt Kilimanjaro back in 2010, I have been looking for inspiration for my next big trek.

Everest? It’s on the list – though everyone’s doing Everest these days. The Kokoda Trail? This trek won’t be for a while until we return to Australia. The Inca Trail perhaps? We experienced a heavy downpour of rain while in Peru so opted out and jumped on a train instead.

But then someone mentioned the Camino De Santiago. And I thought now that’s an inspiring trek! That someone was Megan Tasker from

What inspired you to hike the Camino De Santiago?

A friend had told me about the Camino de Santiago seven years ago after I finished my Masters and I thought it sounded like the strangest thing.  People walking 800 km across Spain, why? How? Did they stop?  I just didn’t understand.

But a seed was planted, I learned more about it, met a couple people who walked it, and being wealthy in time since quitting my job and becoming a travelling yogi – it was the perfect opportunity!


Megan hiking the Camino De Santiago.

How did you prepare for the journey? Did you train?

Short answer, no.  Longer answer, I really truly had the best intentions to train.  I was teaching yoga in Bergen, Norway before the camino and had access to beautiful nature trails and mountains, but with Bergen being one of the rainiest cities in Europe it was hard to motivate myself to trek for four hours in the rain, so alas, yoga and NetFlix won most of the time.

Training obviously helps incredibly!  But it is difficult to train yourself to walk over a half marathon everyday for a month or so.  The more walking you can do before, the better it’ll serve you. But with the camino you sort of come as you are, so you either have youth and fitness on your side or you’ve got time.

What did you expect from the journey before you began?

I intentionally went with no expectations.  From years of travel I’ve learned that expectations can be the demise of even the best laid plans.

I did however expect it to be challenging, and for it to rain.  A lot of people think that Spain is always sunny and warm, but Northern Spain is known for being quite rainy and windy, it also has some altitude to it, so anytime between November to April you can expect snow.


Spain: not always sunny and warm!

But aside from the weather I went in with an open heart – truly the best way to approach the camino.

Were your expectations met? Was it completely different than you had imagined?

My expectations of the walk being challenging and wet were definitely met!  For the first half there were pretty much threats of rain everyday, and over the course of the journey I walked through snow, rain, hail, scorching sun, and unrelenting wind.  B

ut the experience was far superior to any expectations I could have even imagined. The camino truly is a gift.

This was me on one of the worst days!  I thought I was going to die, but I made it through.

This was me on one of the worst days!  I thought I was going to die, but I made it through.

I’ve read the majority of the path is paved road and car traffic is within earshot. Were you expecting this? Did it ruin some of the experience?

I had done quite a bit of reading online about the camino and was aware that there would be some unsightly walks, that there was often paved road and traffic near by or within earshot.  To be honest it didn’t bother me.

If you’re looking for a technical walk, the camino might not be the right fit.  But if you’re looking for a journey that goes beyond the landscape that provides opportunities to be introspective, to make genuine connections with others and to be outdoors, then you won’t be disappointed.


A journey which goes beyond the landscape

A lot of people claim the journey is life changing and empowering. Do you agree?

My personal belief is that anything can be life changing and empowering if you’re open to it, and the camino is no different.

The camino offers an opportunity for reflection (which is rare these days as we are all so connected online or to external sources).

My experience walking the camino provided me the opportunity to get some much needed clarity, as it did for many other pilgrims that I met on the camino.  I find most walk the camino are looking for some answers, while with others the camino finds them.

Either way, you can’t avoid yourself while walking 6 – 8 hours a day over the course of a month.  It is sort of like having a personal intervention with yourself.  But the more open you are to it, the more you can take from the experience, and the more you can learn about why you chose to take this journey.

Tell us about your experience on the trail.

Goodness, it is difficult to put in to words my experience.  There were days where I would literally scream out loud and say ‘Megan, what on earth made you think that this would be fun!?  Are you crazy?’, and then the next day I would jump out of bed just excited to get moving.

But the overwhelming feeling for me, and it seemed like for others, was that there was something so simple and so special about moving toward a common goal.

Everyone is on their own personal journey, but all of us are aching and plodding on together.  The camino came to be a metaphor for life.  There will always be ebbs and flows, but with each step you’re moving toward something that is greater than you.


The Camino: a metaphor for life.

How long did it take you to complete the whole thing?

I walked from the ‘unofficial’ start of the Camino Frances in Saint Jean Pied de Port, France (there really is no official start, the truly official start is from your front door – but many consider Saint Jean Pied de Port to be the start of Camino Frances).

This makes the walk a whopping 796 km, I averaged about 28 km walking per day, walking as little as 20 km, and as long as 38 km, taking 28 days to get to Santiago.

I then chose to walk an extra 3 days – 90 km – to Finisterre, what pilgrims thousands of years ago considered to be the end of the world, where they would bath in the water, burn their clothes and be ‘reborn’.

The Atlantic Ocean… the end of the world.

The Atlantic Ocean… the end of the world.

The trail is largely a religious pilgrimage. Are you religious/would you recommend the journey for people who are not?

The Camino de Santiago has had a long history, and was walked by pagans before it became a religious pilgrimage. Over the years it was forgotten and then refound.

In its hay day it was a religious pilgrimage, although many pilgrims are still practicing Catholics, and this particular pilgrimage has been considered to be the third most important Catholic pilgrimage, it has become a largely secular.

I am not religious, and without a doubt would recommend this pilgrimage to anyone.   In the monastery in Roncesvalles there is a poem that says: The door is open to all, to sick and healthy, not only to Catholics but also to pagans, Jews, heretics and vagabonds’, I think this aptly describes who walks the camino… anybody who wishes too.

Image (9) Megan Tasker

One God. Billions of creatures.

The pilgrimage is extremely social. What kind of people did you meet along the way?

The pilgrimage is social in particular during the peak seasons, but there are lots of opportunities during the shoulder seasons for solitude mixed in with a more social experience.  It is as social (or unsocial) as you would like it to be, but solitude will be difficult during the high season.

The one thing that made the camino to me were the people that I met.  More than any other travel experience, the people I met along the camino were some of the most genuine and beautiful souls I’ve ever met.

I was constantly humbled by the generosity and kindness of others along the way.

On a break with friends.

On a break with friends.

Doesn’t the scenery get monotonous?

I didn’t think so.  I suppose there are people with different opinions.  Many actually bus between Burgos and Leon because there’s a rumour that this strip is the most boring due to it’s flatness, but two of my visually favourite days were in between Burgos and Leon.

I really felt like on a whole everyday offered something different.  There definitely were not so attractive, industrial areas, but then the next day you’d be enjoying a misty morning walking through vineyards, followed by mountain vistas the next.

For me, the scenery was constantly changing, and more times than not I was pretty blown away by the scenery.

One of my favourite days before hitting Leon.

One of my favourite days before hitting Leon.

Did you learn Spanish before you left? Did you need it along the way?

No, sadly I didn’t.  In fact, you can get by with limited Spanish – I know about 40 words (including counting 1 – 10) and I could get by just fine even with people who spoke no English.

But if you do know Spanish it makes asking for help, ordering food (i.e. a lot of restaurants you can ask for things that aren’t on the menu – but you need to know how to ask for it), etc so much easier.

Though the times I really wish I knew Spanish was when I would meet a Spanish pilgrim (which make up about 50% of the pilgrim population). It would have been nice to have been able to have conversations with them that didn’t look like we were playing charades.

You definitely don’t need to know Spanish, but you get a lot more from the experience if you do.  If you don’t know it, you can always do what I did and find a walking buddy along the way that does (it was when this happened that I learned a lot more about how to get what you want in Spain).

Do you need a map or navigation skills to complete the trail?

No.  You don’t even really need a guidebook.  All you need is the ability to follow a yellow arrow.

I did however, have an essential travel app on my smart phone called Maps With Me that works offline via GPS, and it saved me from getting lost in the bigger cities (where sometimes the arrows aren’t as well marked), and also let me know how much mileage I had left to walk whenever I was curious (this could be good or bad).

Tut the other great thing is the app actually has the Pilgrim Albergues marked, so I literally never got lost (which after walking 35 km, the last thing you want is to walk 100 m out of your way).

One of the many arrows that helped me get to Santiago.

One of the many arrows that helped me get to Santiago.

What are key considerations people should think about before attempting this pilgrimage?

The thing that I found the most important and that allowed for some to get the most out of the experience was having a clear intention (different than expectations).

If the intention is to challenge yourself physically, then when your calves are burning, your hip is clicking, or the blisters are just unbearable you’ll manage, because you set on this journey knowing it would be tough.

If your intention is that it’s a holiday, that’s ok too, but that means that it might be a bit different, you might take the bus during stretches, take days off to tour around the cities.

Furthermore, the next biggest consideration is whether you begin the walk alone or with a friend.  If you choose to be with a friend, it is imperative that your intentions match, if one of you wants a holiday and the other wants to push themselves physically, well it’ll be difficult to meet both of your needs together, so it would be important to discuss if you’ll walk everyday together, if one person gets injured and needs a day or two off, does the other person push on or stay back? Etc.

Image (14) Megan Tasker

The Camino de Santiago

What kind of shoes did you wear? Were the blisters?

I was a bit unorthodox in this department.  I wore running shoes (Nike Free’s in fact).

There were a couple reasons for this: (1) they are the only shoe that I’ve ever had that don’t give me blisters, (2) I figured I would be walking a half marathon or more a day, and I would never walk or run a half marathon in hiking boots, so why would I here, and (3) It’s not a technical trail, so there was no need for the additional support (at least on the Camino Frances, if you attempt the Camino Norte you would most likely be best suited with hiking boots).

But in addition to this, because I knew that I would be walking in the early spring when it’s especially rainy (read: muddy) and with the possibility of snow, I also brought a $10 pair of rain boots which ultimately, if I ever got tired of carrying, I wouldn’t feel bad leaving them behind or just throwing them out.

These came in so valuable with the deep snow over the pyrenees, the muddy trails and the days of rain (which was about a third of my walk) that they were worth their weight in gold.

But I know I was alone in carrying them, I had many locals point and laugh (some of them giving me the thumbs up), and a couple Albergue volunteers say that in all their time they have never seen anyone walk in rain boots.  But on those really bad rainy days, I was laughing!

Appropriate footwear for the camino.

Appropriate footwear for the camino. Nike Free’s!

What gear proved essential along the way?

Essential gear will depend more on what time you go.  Because I went in the spring, all of my rain gear was essential (rain jacket, rucksack cover, disposable poncho, and rain boots), but I also wouldn’t have survived without my water bladder, ear plugs, sunblock, or sleeping sheet (sleeping bag in my case – the Albergues were quite cool in March and early April).

But the most essential thing you can do is to pack as light as possible.

Did you have to carry food/water with you along the way?

This is where the guidebook comes in handy.  A good guidebook will let you know how often there are water sources, restaurants/cafes, and albergues, so you can properly plan your day.

There are some stretches where for 17 – 20 km there is absolutely nothing, so you need to make sure that you carry snacks and water with you.  But for the most part, if you’re not fussy about the food you eat, and it’s not mid-summer, you can get by with carrying less than 1L of water and a couple snacks along the way.

Of course the more food you buy from the supermarket and prepare yourself the cheaper the journey will be (but also note, not all Albergue’s have a kitchen).

Pit stop, grabbing some grub!

Pit stop, grabbing some grub!

Should people take anything special with them?

A stone from home.  There is a spot along the way called the Cruz de Ferro, where you have an opportunity to leave a stone which represents a burden that you are leaving behind.

Although, some grab a stone from where they start, apparently the stone is suppose to be from home.

Which resources were the most helpful in making the journey happen?

There are so many online pilgrim forums and personal blogs that are a wealth of information, but I have to admit my most helpful source was a friend who walked it – she was the one that recommended the guidebook I bought, that answered all my silly questions, but also the big question of: am I capable of this huge walk. 

Because people of all physical abilities do the walk, many do them in sections, or just the last 100 km, it is nice to talk to someone who is aware of your physical capabilities and can reassure any doubts or misgivings.

Before heading out it’ll seem like a really daunting journey.  But once you reach the end, you’ll look back thinking it was the most simple and beautiful experience.

A beautiful morning walking through vineyards

A beautiful morning walking through vineyards.

How much did the experience cost you?

The entire journey (not including transportation) from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostella cost me about € 650.00, approximately € 22.00 / day.

Which route do you recommend people take?

I’ve only walked the Camino Frances, so I’m not really in the position to recommend a route.  It also depends what you want from the experience.

If you want to walk the most well trodden path where things are well set up (and set up for the majority of the year), the camino Frances is the most accessible. But if you want more solitude (especially if you plan to go during peak periods), the Camino Norte might give you more of what you want.

Just remember that all the non-Camino Frances routes are much less busier, but this means during the winter you will find them a lot more challenging (due to Albergues not being open, or for towns being very far apart).

Walking over the French Pyrenees on the first day of the Camino Frances.

Walking over the French Pyrenees on the first day of the Camino Frances.

When is the best time of year to go?

This is also about personal preference.  I think the best time is early Spring (April) or late fall (November).  You’ll still get friendly pilgrims, but you will have that opportunity for solitude as well.

Plus, although the weather may be a little less predictable, when I had some hot, hot days (sunny and 23 C – not even that hot), all I and my fellow pilgrims could say was “I could never do this in the summer”.

The shoulder seasons also mean that you don’t run the risk of not finding a bed in an Albergue.

Lots of space in the Albergue in early Spring!

Lots of space in the Albergue in early Spring!

Looking back, would you do anything differently?

The biggest thing I regret not having, doing, etc.  was not packing a baseball cap (or wide brimmed hat), for both the sun and rain!

Why should people hike the Camino de Santiago?

I met so many incredible people along the way that chose this journey for various reasons.

I met a Danish man who’s doctor had actually prescribed the camino after a series of anxiety attacks, a woman who had a brain stroke and wanted to feel like she could move mountains, I met a man who was retired and felt wealthy in time, but after a couple weeks realized that he was actually unhappy at home.

The camino is no easy feat, and can hardly be considered a ‘holiday’, whether you find the camino or the camino finds you, you will choose to walk it because something draws you there.

Maybe it’s the physical challenge, maybe it’s a loss, maybe it’s spiritual, or maybe you just want to lose a couple of pounds (which always seems to be a topic of conversation), whatever the reason it doesn’t matter.

If you somehow make you’re way there, there is a purpose to your journey, and that’s reason enough.

St. James Shell found on the beach in Finisterre.

St. James Shell found on the beach in Finisterre.

Megan has recently released a planning guide to the Camino de Santiago.  This is an essential guide for anyone prepping for the walk; a must-have comprehensive planning guide to help you take your first couple of steps toward Santiago de Compostela along the Camino Frances.

The book covers what you need to know about packing, equipment, budget, where to stay, planning stages, and how to just get there, plus much more! This guide will help you plan your journey along the most popular of route from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela (and beyond to Finisterre) along the Camino Frances. This guide solely focusses on planning your journey, and does not replace a walking guide.

Download on Amazon

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Megan was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, and had worked in several not-for-profit and public sector positions focused on creating better systems for people in need.

After quitting her day job and selling her home at 32, she has resorted to being a professional day dreamer and travelling yogi, who after missing her bike for nearly two years has decided to make it her new travel partner.

A lover of photography, yoga and story telling you can read about her travels and musings at  Follow Megan on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


  1. I have saved this page. If I could leave tomorrow, I would probably start my own Camino de Santiago. I would like to start from France too. It has been on my bucket list for waaaaaay too long. This post has lots of information that will definitely come in handy when I finally make my way there!

    • Glad you found the post useful – best of luck on your own journey – I have no doubt it will happen for you!

    • Claudia! It really truly is an incredible experience, even after all the aches, pains, rain, and wind it has been one of my favourite trips!! I’m excited for you to head out whenever that may be!!!
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  2. Hey Megan,

    Great job on the post. For me, you hit the nail on the head! There are just so many different reasons for doing the camino, that you really can’t limit it to one. I always felt humbled by people’s willingness to share very intimate details about their lives and their own reasons for doing the camino, which are as interesting as they are varied. It’s very inspiring to meet so many genuine people. Cheers on this adventure and also on biking across Canada. Great stuff! Drew

    • Thanks Drew – so glad you enjoyed the interview. I cannot wait to undertake the journey for myself – one of the main reasons for doing it for me would be the social aspect of the trail and meeting people, hearing their stories etc.

      Megan’s made of some inspiring stuff!

    • Drew! Oh my goodness!

      Whenever I talk about the camino I always tell others how you make the most genuine and deep connections with people in a matter of hours. After a couple kilometres you’ve covered the job, the fam, the general day to day, and then all of a sudden you’re in to the divorce, your dreams, or whatever it was that led your walking partners toward Santiago. I am forever grateful for all the people I met along the way.

      Thanks for the props on the bike ride too, it has forever changed the way I want to travel. EPIC.

      And Megan – you’re too kind! Much love.
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  3. What a great post! The Camino de Santiago is definitely a challenging experience, but one that you’ll remember all your live. I would recommend to take the Camino del Norte, since instead of going through Burgos and Leon, you get to know northern Spain which is really beautiful, specially in Cantabria and Asturias. If you are planning to do the Camino de Santiago, I recommend you to have a look at this useful website, where you will find all the stages, albergues, tips, experiences from others… It’s in Spanish, but with a little help of Google you’ll understand it perfectly. 🙂

    • Thanks Katia! So glad you enjoyed the interview!

      Thanks for the tips, and for the great website resource. I don’t understand Spanish so I might employ Google for a little help translating!! I can’t wait to get out and complete the trek myself!

    • Katia! Great tips!!

      Friends I met along the Camino Frances had started on the Camino Norte and they said it was BEAUTIFUL! Just lonely, but it was early spring.
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    • Thanks Kenin! Such a great experience – I hope you get the chance to walk it!
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  4. Wow what a journey! I had never heard of the camino de santiago until now so thanks for sharing. Kudos for going the extra distance to ‘the end of the world’!

    • Hannah! It was a journey for sure! One with many ebbs and flows, but I loved every inch!
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  5. Oh my gosh! On your worst day all bundled up you look like Kenny from South Park – haha! What a fantastic experience. I am very sure it felt incredibly rewarding once you completed!

    • Alli!

      I know! I look RIDICULOUS! I think I laughed for 10 minutes when my friend emailed that image to me. Shortly after that shot it literally poured rain and we still had 6 km left to walk (about an hour), I was frozen to the bone! But everyone was bonded when we arrived at the pilgrim hostel.
      Megan recently posted…pretty prairiesMy Profile

    • I really hope you can make it happen!

    • Lauren! I echo Megan’s sentiment. I too hope that you have the opportunity to walk the camino someday. It is pretty incredible!
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  6. This is such an inspiring interview and Megan sure has my admiration. There’s something similar like this in Costa Rica except it only happens on time a year in August and people walk from all over the country to one specific Catholic church so it is a religious holiday and it’s not as far as she walked. What a tough but rewarding experience, I have never heard of anyone doing it before!
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    • I’ve actually heard of that before! I think there’s also a similar pilgrimage perhaps in Colombia which takes place at the same time in August. WIll have to look into it some more!

    • Samantha!

      I’ve never heard of the pilgrimage in Costa Rica. There are quite a few around the world, either religious or historical. I’ve heard great things about the Lycian Way in Turkey! You definitely get use to the mileage, so don’t let that stop you!
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  7. What a great adventure! The Camino is quite famous in Holland and many people do it, or stretches of it. Not sure if I’d ever go it completely but it’s definitely a great thing to aim for in the future!
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    • Do let us know if you end up getting to the Camino – would love to follow your adventure!

    • Antonette!

      Yes, it seems to be very popular among Europeans in general. I actually think Denmark is trying to revive their sections of the camino to make it more accessible and increase tourism there. (I met a Danish man who was part of the committee on the camino). The Camino is an entirely personal journey, so whether you just do a section or do the whole thing, you make of it what you want :).
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  8. Amazing Megan, I loved this read & may have been so involved in your adventures I swear I saw myself there.
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    • So glad you enjoyed the interview! I so hope it inspires people to get out there and take the pilgrimage themselves!

    • Again, I echo Megan’s sentiments. After Megan interviewed me, I just hoped that it would inspire people to go out and do it, but also to show how accessible it is!
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    • It’s definitely a trek and a half!!! Glad you enjoyed the interview all the same!

    • Sarah!
      It’s actually almost 900 k if you choose to go to the coast. It sounds super daunting, but I just really feel like it is something anyone can accomplish. I met people as young as 18 who were walking the whole thing and as old as 80! Just take it at your own pace, you’ll be surprised at how strong you are (both mentally and physically).
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  9. I really loved reading this. I have walked the Camino myself last summer and, to date, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. The feeling of accomplishment at the end and of community throughout is simply unbelievable. Truly an amazing experience.
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    • Mary – so glad I was able to provide a different perspective. It is so hard when you know so much about an experience before you actually start it. I really tried to go in with an open mind, I wanted the experience to be as ‘fresh’ as it could be for me. And I was really happy to discover that some of those negative things aren’t actually such a big deal (it’s like reviews on trip advisor sometimes..ha! Take it with a grain of salt).
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  10. I loved reading this account of the Camino by Megan. We met Megan in Istanbul in 2013 and I can well imagine her walking the Camino. She like most of us I suppose can do anything she sets her mind to. I think that summer would definitely be out for me. 🙂
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    • Thanks Jan! I’m so glad you enjoyed the interview – Megan is indeed fantastic! So glad you had the chance to meet each other – I’ve only had correspondence with her online though I imagine we’d get along wonderfully!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Was wonderful to find your blog. We are hoping to hike the Santiago next September – 2015. Owning a business and taking a month off might be tricky – we may have to settle for the two week trek. Thanks for sharing your story – was truly helpful.
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    • Hi Pam! So glad you’re enjoying our blog – welcome and thanks for being here!

      Congrats on the decision to hike even just a little part of the Camino – it’s so great that you’re making it happen in between other commitments; even the two week trek I’m sure would be just as empowering and amazing!

      Best of luck, and feel free to reach out if you need any help with travel planning 🙂


  12. OMG – so glad to read this! We have only JUST completed the Camino on October 17 so can totally relate to reading this. It is so lovely to relive the journey through someone else’s words and eyes 🙂
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    • Very small world! Huge congrats on your accomplishment!!

      So glad you could resonate with Megan’s interview – will head on over to your website to check out all of your amazing photos from the trip!

  13. I’ve been thinking about the Camino a lot lately. It’s our first destination when we leave North America next year. I just extended an invitation to my 18 year old nephew to join us on the walk, fingers crossed that he feels adventurous too 🙂
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    • Very cool, congrats on booking in the trip Jill! I can’t wait to follow your adventure – will make sure I’m following for all of your updates 🙂 Safe and happy travels!

  14. I have really enjoyed reading your blog and one day will walk the Camino Frances too. I was just wondering what guidebook it was that your friend recommended to you?

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