My Santiago de Compostela – Part I

Finally, after 25 years, in September 2018 I made that particular dream of mine come true: “walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela”. I decided to go the French path, from Saint Jean de Pied de Port until
Compostela 799 Km! Yes I did it and came back with a number of learnings I will be sharing with you. 

Very soon I learned about  lesson Nr. 1: No matter how much time, effort it will cost you Never give up on your dream.  One day, you will know the time has come, the people to support you will be there, the surroundings will be right for your to bring your dream to life.

For me it took me some 25 years. Maybe I needed these 25 years to get mentally ready, and also do you remember?  I am a later bloomer.

the c
the Camino by Shirley macLaine

It was Hollywood legend Shirley Mac Laine and her book “the Camino” which clearly inspired me. Shirley Mac Laine left at the age of 60 in  1994 on a solo trek along the 799 KM trail. She shared her walk with so much passion, joy, authenticity and enthusiasm that It became clear to me, once I had finished the book, I had to go on the path as well. Back then I did not know it would take me so much time to have that dream come true.

I guess I also waited some 25 years so that the conditions could improve, as Shirley’s walk was clearly the hard way: she slept in barns, no hot water to shower, no clear path indication, no iphone, no camino app, no connections to other pilgrims etc… My camino was a luxury version compared to hers.

But back to 2018, I felt the time was right, my turn had come. So I manage to get myself a sabbatical from work, sorted out my family matters and got ready for the one-month trip all by myself. So here I was sitting on the plane taking me to Biarritz, wondering if I did pack everything in my backpack. I had:

  • Walking pant / short
  • Two sports T-shirt
  • A load of underwear
  • Raining gear
  • Some toiletries (including only 1 blister plaster),
  • A nice dress (a very useful advice I read on a blog two days prior to  my departure, just staying feminine while doing the Camino).
  • 3 pairs of shoes (I am who I am and I love shoes):  the walking boats I was wearing, my walking sandals and a pair of flip flops.
  • Basic electronics
  • Some eating tools
  • My passport
  • Pen, a journal to keep track of all my experience

The checking balance at the airport showed 5.2 kg wow! That was an accomplishment already in itself especially for me as I was rather the one always taking too many things with me and here I manage to reduce it to a minimum.

While the plane was taking off, I realized that this was getting serious. OMG what did I sign up for, was I conscious of the effort, the pain, the walking, the weather, the dirty I might experience No!  not at all. I did not really train, nor did I prepare, packed my backpack one day before departure,  a backpack I bought also only one day before departure. I also remembered a conversation I had, two weeks before I left, with a women I met during an evening at friends. She asked the same random question everybody would ask when hearing about my venture.

  • She: Have you trained? well I am sure you did, you live in Switzerland and you must be hiking every other weekend right?
  • Me: well,  well virtually yes !!!  (I think I had put my walking shoes like 3 times,  to check if they would fit, at least I had put them on right!).

Hearing my answer, she nearly told me off, and said I was irresponsible, it will be very hard. She spent only one week on the trail, felt much pain, cried a lot, had a lot off cramps, blisters and was nearly going to cut it short.  I was listening and thought to myself,  well, well, well, somehow I will manage.  To be honest , seating on that plane on that day, I was not quite sure how I will be managing it.  And this is how I suddenly had an “aha moment” about lesson Nr 2work on your expectations:  So I left with zero expectations. If I would be back home within the next two days, so be it, if I would make it to Santiago so be it.  Back then I was still more a shopping queen than a walking queen,  the kind of person who would have driven into a restaurant if this would have been possible! I did not want to put myself under pressure.  I wanted to have  fun, meet people, as this was ultimately going to be a month off of work, no family, no responsibilities. Simply me, myself and I and with what the Camino was going to offer me. A sentence I heard a lot on the Camino and it took me a while to understand. This will be for my Camino Part II.

My two first lessons from the Camino:

Hold on tight to your dreams, a song from Electric Light Orchestra, which I always loved and now I do know why I got so much into that song.
It resonate so much with the first lesson the Camino had taught me: regardless of what people thought about me,  said to me or my own saboteur voice about my dream, regardless of the effort, the time needed stick to your dream as one day will come and it will become reality.

Work on your expectations, the less the better. A lesson I still apply since my return from the Camino.  To be honest the less expectation I have the more successful I am!


Stay tune for the next learnings from my Camino

  •  What is your dream you are holding on tight? Or have realized?
  • How are you dealing with your expectations?


Be curious, be courageous, be bold and be yourself


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