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Posts tagged ‘Camino’

Time Spent Researching is Never Time or Energy Wasted

I returned home from my trip to Sydney and feel armed and dangerous. It’s been a couple of weeks since I flew down to do the Camino Downunder workshop and once I got back, I literally hit the floor running with the start of the teaching year, my evening work, Spanish lessons and catching up on the four days of work  I missed while I was in Sydney.

I didn’t really have a choice of whether to blog or not; I simply did not have the time. But whilst I’ve been away from blogging, it’s given me an opportunity to process all the information I gleamed from a couple of seasoned pilgrims and try to put it into perspective and implement it into my planning.

Let me first say, I had such a great time while in Sydney that I’ll probably blog about some of the good times later on. I used the opportunity to explore Sydney in such a way that is similar to how I think it might be when I’m in Spain; to get a taste of things yet to come. With a mindset of expectancy, I experienced a wonderful time meeting strangers and experiencing just some of the many things Sydney has to offer. It was remarkable and I will share some stories down the track.

It was drizzling with rain the morning of the workshop and I headed out from my hotel with brolly in one hand and Google Maps GPS on my iPhone in the other. I knew I only had to walk a street or two away from where I was staying. This sounds simple, but you are yet to know what I am like when it comes to finding my way to intended destinations. After my trip to Sydney, I realise that orienteering is just not my thing. Something internal wills me to go in the completely opposite direction to where I actually need to go. Although proven many times over, I still argue to the death with whoever happens to be with me. I object till I’m blue in the face and even after I have been proven wrong, I still feel driven to go where I feel it is the right direction. My head tells me one thing; my heart, another.

Trying to read the GPS on my phone didn’t help me either. I am one of those people who has to turn the map around so I can see the direction I am meant to take. In truth, I think my spatial awareness could use some fine tuning. My brain simply won’t process upside-down. This time I had no one to argue with, and I won. I took the direction of my burning desire, and yes, you guessed it, I ended up streets away from where I needed to be. At one point I decided to ask this girl I was standing next to at the traffic lights. “Can you please tell me where Clarence Street is?” She smiled shyly at me and held up her phone and shrugged. She had just arrived in Sydney and was using her GPS to find a street. We both laughed  and continued on once the lights turned green. Next minute, I found myself on Clarence Street and outside the building that the workshop was to be held in.

I’d given myself plenty of time and had arrived early so I decided to find a place to buy some breakfast. I headed off down the street, after noting a couple of land marks and found a little breakfast bar on the next intersection. I ordered an egg and bacon roll and a lovely hot cup of coffee, which I enjoyed immensely. I made it back to the meeting point without any more misadventures and was met by Yvonne Grossman. She took a group of us up to the ninth floor where we met her husband Marc and other members of the group; about 20 people approximately. Marc was rearing to get started. Once everything kicked off, we spent an intense morning jammed packed with information. Marc worked his way around the room and asked us all to state every concern we had while he filled two white boards with these queries. Most of the session before lunch was spent answering all the questions raised.

We spent a good deal of time looking at the book of 30 All Weather Maps of the Camino that most of us purchased, along with a print out of the cross sections and elevations of the mountains that we will meet along the way. Throughout the day we discussed topics such as: the concept of a pilgrimage, the timeline and a little bit of the history of the Camino, the walking of the Camino de Santiago, a proposed itinerary, a packing list, a food guide, health issues, resources, phrase guides and various scenarios. As part of our package, we received a very informative guide-book called, The Guide for the Spanish Camino ~ Walking the Camino Frances as a 21st century pilgrim, by Marc Grossman, as well as other information and a souvenir cloth badge of Camino Downunder.

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I purchased the 30 All Weather Maps produced by Camino Downunder because they are very good quality and made from waterproof plastic paper with highly UV-resistant colours to prevent tearing and fading, they show a 3D aerial view of the terrain using geographic information system (GIS), and on the back of each map of the section of the walk, there is an accommodation guide and food recommendations and finally, it has been successfully tested by pilgrims walking the Camino Frances in 2009.

The Grossman’s also provided a wonderful selection of snacks for morning tea that lasted throughout the day. A surprise treat offered toward the end of the day was some traditional Spanish liquor.

I’m glad I invested the time and energy into flying down to Sydney to participate in this workshop and I would recommend it to anyone contemplating their first pilgrimage to a land unknown, as in my case. I learnt a lot and I know I still have much more research to do.

As I said in a previous post, it is not the destination but the journey that is the pilgrimage and my pilgrimage has already begun. Attending this workshop is part of my pilgrimage. I plan to put as much time and energy into research as I can. I want my trip to be successful so I am planning for its success. None of it will be wasted.

I plan to discuss many of the things I find out here in more detail in this blog. It will be my record and reference point. I also plan to share interesting stories that crop up along the way.

So, hasta la vista amigos,

Buen Camino

Camino Downunder Workshop ~ Sydney

At the end of this week (Jan 31) I am heading off to Sydney for a workshop (short course) on Walking the Camino de Santiago run by husband and wife team, Marc and Yvonne Grossman. The course is held in down town Sydney close to Darling Harbour. It’s a hard life. But as they say, someone’s got to do it! I will spend the Saturday, beginning at 9am and closing at 5pm, covering all aspects of the pilgrimage, including: maps, guide books, discussing the gear necessary for a successful trip and anything and everything that relates to the Camino that you can possibly fit in one day!

As part of the course, I will receive a copy of the ‘Camino Guidebook‘ (5th edition and revised for 2012-13 ISBN 978-0-646-51466-6). I will also be able to purchase 30 all-weather maps (Camino de Santiago: 30 all-weather walking maps ISBN 978-0-646-52975-2), which we will be using in the workshop for practice and research. I will also receive as part of the package, paper elevation maps which will be used as part of the training and learning, plus something I’m a little excited about, the Camino Downunder cloth badge, that I will be able to sew to my backpack.

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Photo Credit: Camino Downunder

The participants will also be using for ‘geographical training‘ the brand new, innovative and bold overview maps (2.3 metres long – the long version) – which are oriented direction-up or forward up – replicating the anatomical way every person walks and which is in portrait design, not landscape. After crossing the Pyrenees, these wall maps go in a constant westerly direction all the way to the Atlantic coast.

It is promised that we, as participants, will not come away from the course without a ‘tsunami’ quantity of information, insights, knowledge and skills to assist us in our great enterprise of being joyous and successful pilgrim/walkers. The team promises that whatever is, or are my motivations, their workshop will be a watershed.

I’m excited about attending this course and meeting the other like-minded participants and educators. I am hungry and thirsty for their knowledge and hearing of their experiences. I have huge expectations of what I will receive out of this latest adventure.

Another bonus to the course is just one street and one block away (Kent Street) live all the recommended outdoors stores mentioned in the Camino Guidebook for Sydney. No doubt during my short stay in Sydney I will find some time to visit these outlets. It will be interesting to see what Sydney stores have compared to the Brisbane outlets I have visited.

As preparation for the course, the participants were given some homework to do. We were asked to bring along our written lists of the following:

1.

  • i.   Your concerns and/or anxieties;
  • ii.  Questions, including confusing and /or contradictory information gleamed from the internet sites;
  • iii. Unresolved issues about walking the Camino de Santiago as an independent pilgrim/walker. They assure me that no question or issue raised by anyone is ever unimportant or treated offhandedly.

2.

  • Write down your list of all your gear (i.e: walking clothes you will be wearing and clothes carried in your backpack) including your footwear; hat wear and clothing accessories. AND VERY IMPORTANTLY, THE QUANTUM (i.e: how many items of underwear, pairs of socks, etc, etc

3.

  • Write down your list of non walking gear (e.g. a torch, first aid kit items, guide-book/map and communication devices; i.e. mobile phone, etc, etc)

4.

         A Reflective & Philosophical Meditation Task:

  • i. Whilst you are undertaking the Camino de Santiago, what do you think your ‘core business’ should be? Hint: before answering this question, you will need to clearly separate in your mind and on paper ‘core business’ from ‘non-core business’. I strongly encourage you to put in writing this fundamental question.

I have completed these four tasks in readiness for my travels to Sydney. It took some time and research, but I think I got there in the end. It will be interesting for me to find out just what I need (suggested) to take and what I don’t need. I think I will add a page to my blog regarding my packing process. Then after my course I can add to it or delete unnecessary items and make adjustments.

Below, if anyone is interested, I have included the link to Camino Downunder’s website:

http://www.caminodownunder.com

Until next time…

Buen Camino

A Long Walk to South Bank

Saturday was quite overcast, yet when the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, it became very sunny and hot, real melting ice cream kind of hot. A perfect day for a long walk. I walk most days ranging from between 6-12km, depending on time constraints and I usually walk a circuit near my home, but today I decided that I would begin training for the longer walks that will be necessary when walking in Spain.

I packed a small back pack and weighed it. I need this information as part of the training process to help increase the weight over time and in a sensible manner, so that I can comfortably reach the target of approximately 10 percent of my body weight, which is the most I need to carry when walking long distance, over time, in Spain. My back pack and contents for yesterday weighed 3.2 kilograms. A nice starting point, I think.

For my first long walk, other than some of the hiking I do with family, I decided to start from my home in Chandler and walk to South Bank, Brisbane. South Bank is one of my favourite places to visit and spend time. It is the old Expo site and over the years, has developed into an amazing place to enjoy all levels of dining, ranging from cafe type food to fine dining. You will also find the odd ice cream cart parked along the pathways for some further indulgence. There are many bars and grills, and other stores to browse in. Lots of interesting boutique style shops and of course many coffee houses. The dining is mostly alfresco where you can sit and enjoy people watching, taking in life along the river, the action, bizarre and wonderful buskers for entertainment and many other sights, too numerous to mention. Some days you will discover the markets operating with all their wares, services and trinkets. Of course it is also famous for its man-made ‘Kodak Beach’ and swimming places. It is also home to the Conservatorium of Music, the Piazza, and QPAC (where I work part time during the evenings as an Usher or performing Complex Duties). There is always something to see and do at South Bank.

Knowing how much I enjoy South Bank and what it has to offer, what better place to walk to for my first long walk, knowing that I could spend a couple of hours chilling, before making the return trip. I’ve never walked to South Bank before and thought it would be interesting to see the trip from a different perspective, other than sitting in a car.

So, with back pack packed with all the things I thought I’d need along the way and for when I arrived, I headed off on my trek. My phone was fully charged, my Map My Walk  app engaged and recording my stats and progress and my music blaring through my headphones, I was ready to roll.

I live on a major arterial road and so the trickiest part of the walk was getting past some places that aren’t designed for walkers, namely: walking close to oncoming traffic due to the large storm water drains, crossing connecting roads to the Gateway Arterial, where no provision has been made for walkers and again, walking close to oncoming traffic where I guess the road makers thought no one would ever want to walk here. They should know that someone, one day, will want to walk there. And as an additional point, there were no signs telling me I can’t walk there. Anyway, once I cleared all that it was plain sailing.

The walk from Chandler to South Bank totals 16.5 km the way I decided to go. It was mostly flat with some levels rising and some undulating hills in places, so it made the walk interesting and added to my heart rate in places. As I topped the hill coming into the suburb of Coorpooroo, I enjoyed seeing the city off into the distance. This was encouraging as this was near my destination.Image

Further along I noticed this avenue of trees. I have driven past them countless times, but today I saw them through fresh eyes.

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I also noticed this avenue of trees along the way.

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And this canal, that I would never know existed when driving past in my car. You might ask here if it matters that I didn’t know it existed? Probably not, but it is interesting to find hidden things.

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As I headed more toward the city along Vulture Street, I was finally able to take a close up photo of a house that I’ve always admired when driving past. Being so close I could admire closely and actually appreciate what gives it such street appeal. This house is immaculate and surprisingly, there is a lot of land attached to it; quite a bonus for the inner city area of Woolloongabba.

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Getting closer to my destination, I took this photo of the M1, the major road that leads to our beautiful city of Brisbane. I like this shot as I feel like I was peeking in on something.

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Just over this incline ahead, would see me on the brink of my destination. These photos clearly show a very grey day, yet it was still balmy, especially for walkers and cyclists. I passed a number of cyclists out pedalling and enjoying what the day offered.

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Some people are just plain creative when it comes to brightening up our city. I passed a number of these little creations (pictured below) that add lovely bright spots to the streets. Anyone can apply to create a design and jazz up what would normally be dull communication covers. How much more entertaining is it to see bright and happy art work instead? Thank you to all the creative folks out there. We salute you.

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These statues (pictured below) caught my eye at the entrance to some units next to the Mater Private Hospital. There were more than what I captured here in this photo. They were spaced out right across the front of the property. I’m still considering if they ‘work’ with this style of building?

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The next couple of photos are quite significant to me. They are of the work being done on the Mater Children’s Hospital. I mentioned in a previous blog entry about the possibility of raising some money for the children of our city while I walk the Camino and I have discovered that I have a heart for the Mater Children’s. They do such awesome work, as anyone does when involved with saving children’s lives. Our children are so precious and are the life blood of a city, town or country. I hear many stories of sick children, premature babies, and a multitude of other heartbreaking incidents that touches me on too regular a basis. How can I help? One day I’d love to be a part of the ‘Cuddle Mum’ program, but another practical way is to pay it forward and try to raise some money for a very worthy cause and invest in my city. It would be wonderful to think that any encouraging supporters out there, might like to work with me here and maybe support in a practical way while I do the walk. Everyday, there are nurses, doctors, specialists and support staff who perform miracles with very sick children, and unfortunately for some families the outcome for their child may not have a happy ending. I would somehow like to make a difference and contribute to the work these amazing people perform in our own backyard. At some point in our lives, we will need the help of these professionals for our own families and whilst my own family has always been supporters and made regular donations, I still want to do more. I believe in children and want to help make their future brighter and I’m sure there are others who would like to do so too. I have to speak with people who have the knowledge to help me with this side of things, but I am positive that I can organise something. So, watch this space, especially if you would like to reach out to the beautiful children of our city.

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Well, I made it! Here I am at the entrance to South Bank at Little Dock Road. For some reason I quite like Little Dock Road. It is a cute little street that leads to a beautiful area of Brisbane. Look at the perfect sky now!

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I took the photo below peeking through a beautiful Poinciana tree. Brisbane has some mighty fine specimens that look spectacular. Other favourite trees of mine that I see around Brisbane, include: the Jacarandas in all their purple flurry, the variety of Frangipanis (whites and pinks) and the massive historical Moreton Bay Figs.

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Below is one of the entrances to South Bank. I totally enjoyed my walk here and was ready to enjoy whatever South Bank offered today. It’s trademark Bougainvillaea are just ahead.

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The photos below show people enjoying all that South Bank has to offer. How blessed to enjoy a day down here?

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I spent some time cruising around enjoying the sights. I had to wait a little while for my appetite to arrive. The walk, it seemed suppressed my need for food, however, in time, it arrived. I enjoyed a whole bottle of cooled water and then I practiced what I hope and know will become part of the adventure whilst in Spain. I found a favourite restaurant of mine, Kapsalis and ordered a lovely Greek salad with two lamb souvlaka kebabs (okay, plenty of time for Spanish cuisine when I go to Spain – I’m practicing the experience here) and a nice cold Crown Lager. As I’m on holidays and ‘beach’ time, it was my small indulgence.

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After lunch, I wandered over to some lovely grassed area near a children’s playground. I could see all the action on the river and enjoyed the sights. I laid out my towel and read my book for about an hour or so and then it was time to do the walk all over again. I packed up my things and headed for home.

The funny thing is, I outlasted my iPhone 5’s battery. It died on me at Woolloongabba. The rest of the trip was music-less and my Map My Walk App-kaput! However, I still had my watch and I already knew how far I’d walked getting to South Bank. My distance and times for the day were: 33 km in 5 hours plus a further 4 km un-timed. Total kilometres walked was 37km. I’m happy with that being my first long walk in training. Remember, this is a journey, not a race. I merely time myself as part of the training process and out of interest. It will allow me to learn about my walking patterns, general times and will help me calculate how long it will take me to walk certain distances between villages along the route in Spain. My biggest challenge that I can see will be walking through the Pyrenees at altitude. I’m so excited!

If you’ve read down to here, thank you for your time. I hope you enjoyed my little adventure.

So, until next time…

Buen Camino

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