Category Archives: Camino de Santiago

Practice Your Spanglish

Have you ever met a native Spanish speaker whose English is not fluent? You’ve probably noticed then those certain (and usually the same) mistakes, like (e)smart, (e)study, ‘win’ money (instead of earn) and so many others. The thing you can do here is to be a bit obnoxious and think that by now everyone should speak at least basic English. Or… you can imagine how your Spanish sounds to all those people. And believe me, it usually sounds terrible! As neither Spanish, nor English native speaker I can say, that English accent on Spanish is quite terrible. But this time we aren’t here to talk about the imperfections of one or other accents. The main idea for this post was to emphasize the common flaws everyone speaking two or more language has and to encourage to try to use your broken Spanish, French, Portuguese or any other language as often as you can.

There are so many situations travelling where your English may be worthless, you could be surprised. Let’s take Camino de Santiago as an example. Imagine yourself going to a small village in a rural Spanish area where probability of finding a fluent English speaking person is almost the same as probability of not drinking wine in the evening (it exists, but it’s awfully low). This is the moment you must use your Spanglish. Even if you’re too shy to do that, this is worth doing simply because it will make the things go faster and after a long day of hiking, you want the things to go faster.

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Another language you shouldn’t forget, is signs! Even though we’re all fluent at telling people to go…  themselves, saying this I was not expecting you to be fluent in any of the sign language systems. I was talking about that special bond people with no common language find when they need it. Showing numbers on the phone/calculator/writing them down, simply showing the signs of food or sleep and many other tricks usually sound so terrible and shameful. And yet, it also makes things go faster. You may think you’ll be wiser than me and will use Google Translate or any other app. And I salute you for this thought, but just in case you don’t have internet and need to show something to the foreign staff member – remember this post.

This is the place where I say goodbye and remind you to download TrailSmart app before planning any hike!

P.S. Picture is here: http://bit.ly/2xOArLJ

Things to Do in Santiago de Compostela

If you plan to go on Camino de Santiago you will definitely finish your hike in Santiago de Compostela. A city in northwestern Spain is really well known as the destination of Camino de Santiago, but this is not the only reason why you should visit Santiago. So what should you do in Santiago de Compostela?

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  1. Visit the Cathedral. This Romanesque building with Gothic and baroque attributes is often called the heart of Santiago. This church is actually the fourth building standing in this place as the predecessors were torn down by the time. The stunning huge building will strike you with the majestic sculptures and architecture. All in all – it’s a must if you’re going to Santiago.
  2. Praza de Obradoiro. If you’re going to visit the Cathedral, you will also visit Praza de Obradoiro – the grand square in front of the cathedral. Area is free of restaurants and traffic, so don’t forget to take some water with you before visiting this spacious beauty. Take the walking map with you so you could walk around the courtyards open for visiting and see some more private part of the square.
  3. Catedralicio Museum. Again another thing you must visit once visiting the cathedral. Religious art as well as some well known paintings are definitely worth seeing.
  4. Mercado de Abastos. A local and lively food market is something you don’t want to miss. Fresh food made in front of your eyes and some really local vibes will remind you why you should love Spanish cuisine and lifestyle.
  5. Casco Historico. The historical center of the city is usually the place you want to wander around at. Find your favorite place to take pictures, have a coffee and just imagine how the life used to flow around and inside these old buildings.
  6. Museo das Peregrinacións e de Santiago. The museum of pilgrimage and Santiago is probably a place you want to see if you were a pilgrim yourself for the last few weeks. Exhibition of everything related to Santiago, the person and city and pilgrimage traditions sounds like something interesting!
  7. Café-Jardin Costa Vella is just a local restaurant known for its delicious breakfast served with nice views around.
  8. Abastos 2.0. An original restaurant, which could also be called a canteen is the place for you if you want to enjoy company and food. And of course, if you prefer sea food – this place is a must to see.

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If you don’t have a lot of time to enjoy this historical city, you may want to try any of the free walking tours. It usually starts around midday in one of the central squares and takes you all around the best known places explaining the history and secrets of it.

So good luck and enjoy Santiago de Compostela! You deserve that.

P.S. find the pictures right here:

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Best Hiking Movies for Autumn Nights

Since the summer has ended, your daily routine and activities are most likely facing some changes. Long cold autumn nights are perfect for planning big adventures. But once you’re done doing that, they are also perfect for great hiking movies. And if you are tired of crying watching the Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, here are some new recommendations. P.S. Into the Wild is not on this list.

Tracks. A fascinating story of the girls who decided to walk almost 2000 miles across the Australian desert with four camels and a dog just to find herself and enjoy the solitude. Beautiful cinematography, even more beautiful views and an amazing story will make you wonder about yourself.

Wild. Hollywood portrays long distance hiking as a cure from grief and inner problems. This is not an exception. A long, tiring and healing travel on the Pacific Crest Trail in order to find the inner peace, self respect and some reasons.

A Walk in the Woods. Finally something a bit more funny! A story of a man going on an Appalachian trail with little preparation to change something in his life. All the negative thoughts of people around him seem to be coming true as well as the reunion of old friends.

The Way. Probably the best known Hollywood movie about Camino de Santiago. It’s also a beautiful story about grief, friendship and search for inner peace, which is never simple.

The Way Back. This rather different hiking story is about prisoners of Soviet gulags in Siberia. An inevitable hike through Siberia and Mongolia is not a way to find your true self, it is the only possible way to stay alive and find forgiveness. A beautiful but horrifying story will amaze you as well as remind some darkest moments of XX century history.

Wildlike. The plot is similar to the movie Wild – an abused girl looking for herself and peace of mind hiking in Alaska. Except for the views – the picturesque settings will blow your mind away.

Well these are only few new suggestions to add to your long autumn nights movies’ list. There’s always movies like Dances With Wolves, 7 Years in Tibet or Castaway, but I’m sure you remember those yourself.

Share your favorites with us on Twitter or Facebook.

 

St James of the Field of Stars

The name sounds familiar? It should! Did you know that Santiago de Compostela, the city you will walk to on the most popular pilgrimage route in Spain actually means St James of the field of stars? Bet there are more facts you never knew about this trail.

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  1. Now people usually choose the trail they want to walk on, leading to Santiago. But traditionally they used to walk to Santiago straight from their home, wherever it would be.
  2. The yellow scallop shell, used as the sign of the trail, might be facing different ways in different regions. 14095242827_5ddf7a8f3c_k
  3. In order to receive Compostela certificate you need to walk at least 100km and cycle at least 200km to call yourself ‘bici-grino’ (bike-pilgrim). Although in order to receive it you’ll have to have your pilgrim passport stamped at least once a day.
  4. Certificate of welcome is given to hikers walking for cultural and non-religious reasons.
  5. The oldest route of Camino de Santiago is Camino Primitivo.
  6. Most famous route of Camino de Santiago is Camino Francés, starting in French Pyrenees.
  7. More than 250,000 people walk on Camino de Santiago every year. When are you going?

15116060526_047b525a37_kP.S. Pictures are here:

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Spanish Cuisine

Sea food paella doesn't need a caption.

Sea food paella doesn’t need a caption.

There are so many reasons to visit Spain: beautiful cities, cozy hotels, sandy beaches, old culture and… cuisine. Everybody knows and respects the Spanish Cuisine – paella, gazpacho, calamari, pulpo a la gallega, tortilla Española, empanada and many many other dishes.

Doesn't matter what you think about octopuses, you must try pulpo a la gallega

Doesn’t matter what you think about octopuses, you must try pulpo a la gallega.

 

One more reason can be to finally try yourself on Camino de Santiago – one of the most popular hiking and cycling routes in the world. Choose the trail according to the time you have, strength and region. You may as well enjoy the food!

Nothing is tastier than Spanish paella with your new mates from the most tiresome part of the trail. Or cold gazpacho on a hot day. Coffee with churros for a snack? There are so many options.

So use your next adventure on Camino de Santiago as a festival for your inner foodie, too!

P.S. TrailSmart is there to help you out on the hike!

Coffee and churros. And no worries about the calories - you burn a lot of them!

Coffee, churros and no worries about the calories – you burn a lot of them!

Spanish Emapanadas is the perfect breakfast snack!

Spanish Emapanadas is the perfect breakfast snack!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.P.S. Thank you for the pictures, guys:

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Solo adventure

Have you been planning your trip? Looking for the right backpack, comfy boots, nice accommodation, cheap tickets, perfect trail. And also looking for the perfect companion – the person you’ll be sharing the adventure with. And sometimes the person is only you. Just think about it – nobody to adjust to, to talk to, no complaints to listen to. Just pure alone time with your thoughts.

And now you may think it is scary. But I bet you’re brave enough. It is the perfect way to get to know yourself better.

Just check few videos of solo hikers for inspiration.

 

 

To pilgrim or to hike?

You’ve probably seen pictures from Camino de Santiago. Usually if a person decides to do it, he/she will share that information with you on any (every) social network. Part of the pictures will be full of deep self-realisation vibes, pilgrimage experience comments and other existential matter. Others will simply post beautiful views with even more beautiful Instagram filters. Of course, there are some posts in the middle.

The two categories described are so different due to how people see themselves: pilgrims or hikers. It would seem that all the pilgrims are hikers. But could all the hikers be called pilgrims? From the historic perspective one would consider pilgrims as people travelling to a holy sacred place. Meanwhile hikers are just walking in order to reach their final destination without emphasizing the place itself, but rather the experience from the way there.

But does the distinction still exist in the 21st century? The holy place for pilgrims is definitely still as important as it used to be. Yet if you stop thinking about the place and shift towards the action itself and the pleasure it brings, you can surely view the final “destination” (of satisfaction you’ve been seeking for) as holy and sacred, just as the city or attraction for the pilgrims.

Anyways, since less and less things have a clear definition these times, we probably shouldn’t stick to strict names for one or another. As long as you’re walking, cycling or using any other means of transportation in order to be happy and explore, you are a pilgrim and you are a hiker. The name makes no difference.

 

Call it what you want, but it would be better if you decided after seeing it yourself on Camino de Santiago.

Call it what you want, but it would be better if you decided after seeing it yourself on Camino de Santiago.

P.S. Picture is waiting for you here: http://bit.ly/2uZzGec

 

How to find your way?

Sometimes it seems that everyone around you know where they’re going. They know where, why and how. And then you just wonder – what should you do? You may think this way about your lunch, vacation, career or just life in general. The latter is a bit more painful, but you can find the answer.

My mom always says that nobody was born with knowledge, so rephrasing one cliché quote to another you never know (what you like or want) until you try. Just go have lunch at the new restaurant you wanted to try but did not feel ready, buy the plain tickets and go explore. Do not be part of somebody else’s plan, just follow yours. Start planning the smallest things you enjoy and you will catch yourself planning your next adventure!

Do not be a part of somebody else's plan, follow yours.

Do not be a part of somebody else’s plan, follow yours.

Do not be afraid to go alone if nobody is there to join your plan. Just choose a trip you feel safe about. Camino de Santiago is one of the most popular trails with excellent logistics – it’s almost impossible to get lost there. Also, since there are so many pilgrims on the road, it’s impossible to feel lonely, too.

You will never feel alone on Camino de Santiago.

You will never feel alone on Camino de Santiago.

If Spanish is not your strongest side, you can try any of the routes in the United Kingdom. But you have to be warned – sometimes it might take a while to adjust to different accents there. I know you will do that fast, so just choose from many different trails there: Cotswold way, West Highland way, Hadrian’s Wall path or many others. It only depends on what you are looking for – more civilisation, wilderness, mountains, rivers or anything else you fancy.

England as seen in the movies is waiting for you on the Cotswold Way.

England as seen in the movies is waiting for you on the Cotswold Way.

If you don’t feel like going on any of these trails – good. That means you know what you don’t want. Just keep reading, google more, look at all the amazing pictures and find the place you want to explore. Follow your new plan!

 

P.S. The beautiful pictures can be found here:

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What to expect when you’re expecting for Camino de Santiago?

One of the most popular trails in Europe, if not the world, Camino de Santiago, will bring you a lot of adventures. Thousands of people go there every year and if you’ve been thinking about going there, stop. You’re going.

And you can expect everything from it:

Some buildings will strike you with their beauty, some will look as tired are you are.

Some buildings will strike you with their beauty, some will look as tired are you are.

✓Exhaustion

✓Blisters

✓New people (friends)

✓Amazing views

✓Old cities

✓Architecture

✓Beautiful nature

✓Versatility

✓Interesting culture

✓Great local cuisine

Wild white horses may look like a dream, but just pinch yourself and you'll know they're true

Wild white horses may look like a dream, but just pinch yourself and you’ll know they’re true.

All you have to do now is to start planning!

Our Trailsmart app is always there to help. Read all about the trails, decide which one you will take, choose your favourite albergues – you can do everything with it. FOR FREE!

Flatlands, highlands, rivers and seas - the trail has it all.

Flatlands, highlands, rivers and seas – the trail has it all.

P.S. Find those pictures here:

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Packing the backpack: to camel or not to camel?

One of the main struggles before any hike is how to properly pack all the things you might need. Sleeping bag, socks, sweatshirt, sneakers, cosmetics, etc. The list goes on and on. But where to stop? Are you ready to become a camel for the next weeks and have everything you might need? Or would you rather pack lightly and not worry too much about the stuff you did not take?

Are you ready to carry as much stuff as this camel in Cappadocia?

Are you ready to carry as much stuff as this Turkish camel is going to?

You never know the right answer until you go on the trail and see what did you forget or what was absolutely irrelevant. But one thing you can do here is to learn from other’s mistakes and lessons.

Here are some tutorials from people that have already taken the popular trails. You shouldn’t strictly follow their rules, but they might give you some smart insights.

Now go, watch and pack!

 

P.S. camel rests here: http://bit.ly/2rVhkcn