The River Surfers of Munich #munich #surf #river #awesome
Something really special happened today.
Around a year ago now I persuaded a friend to come along to an independent arts cinema in Nottingham with me to see a film called ‘The Way’, starring Martin Sheen and written and directed by his son Emilio Estevez. The film is centred around the Camino de Santiago, which my friends and followers of this blog will know is the 34 day journey I undertook across Southern France and the North of Spain in October/November 2012.
The film is really beautiful and tells the story of a father who travels to Spain to complete the journey on behalf of his estranged son in order to find redemption for their distant relationship after the son is killed in a storm on his first day of walking. It instantly struck a chord with me, and before long I made plans to walk the Camino myself, and after seeing the film my Dad also wanted to come along for the first section of the journey.
We arrived at the airport in Biarritz on a cold, dark day in the middle of a downpour in late October 2012, and awaited a transfer to St Jean Pied de Port which we had been told was also booked by an English couple on the same flight. While waiting in the arrivals area we met up with Paul and Kathryn. They’d walked the final week of the Camino on a previous trip, and had become hooked. Similarly to my Dad they are unable to take long periods off work, and so were there to walk for another week only, but this time from the start.
We instantly got on very well, and amongst their general passion and enthusiasm for the Camino I soon found out that they were fans of the film too. Over the next week, despite staying in different accommodations we regularly ran into them on The Way, as is the way of the Camino. We enjoyed looking out for locations from the film and comparing photos, and shared morning coffee and evening beers.
In a town called Logrono we left them, as they went to travel back to the UK, and not too long afterwards my Dad left the Camino at a city called Burgos also to travel back home. I went on to continue the walk on my own and arrived in the city of Santiago de Compostela in late November, having experienced a really amazing journey.
I got Paul’s email address before they left, and shortly afterwards we sent a few emails to each other about the experiences and about Paul and Kathryns’ plans and excitement to continue the Camino even further at the next opportunity. They went on to walk another week over the New Year period, and will complete the journey over the next few months.
Today I received a package to my office from Paul and Kathryn, and the first thing I was a letter explaining that after they left us and in the weeks and months following, they wanted to do something to help mark my achievement in completing the journey. Amazingly they had written to Martin Sheen telling him about their experiences and also talked about meeting me and my Dad, and asked if Martin could perhaps send a signed photo or momento to send to me. To my shock, the next thing I pulled out from the envelope was a signed production sleeve from The Way, as well as two photos with messages to me and my Dad and a handwritten letter to Paul and Kathryn. Not only had Martin done this but he’d also sent photos to Paul and Kathryn, wished them luck on their upcoming Camino legs and also sent back the money that Paul had sent to cover postage.
This left me pretty speechless and I was unable to get a lot of work done today! The gifts are amazing but the thought behind it is very overwhelming, and we can’t thank Paul and Kathryn enough! The photos will be treasured, and mine will join my Camino Passport and Compostela certificate in a frame on my wall very soon.
David. Camino de Santiago, November 2012.
I first met David on day three of the Camino de Santiago. An English Ex-Pat living alone in France, he set off from his front door, a week’s walk from my start point of St Jean Pied de Port. Having no plans and not sure how far he’d be able to make it, being a man in his 70’s, he took each day one at a time. 34 days later we arrived in Santiago de Compostela on the same day, having walked together solidly for around a week prior to arrival and David having walked well over 900km with a spring in his step and a pack much heavier than mine.
David is now back in France and well into training once again, already having planned around 2000km worth of walking for this year, including a second Camino from his front door to Finisterre in October.
A great old sod who became a good friend, I hope to join you on one of your adventures again some day!
Q:You walked the Camino in November? What was the weather like? I wanted to do it late September, maybe October but I won't be back until late October. I don't feel like waiting another year (and don't want to walk in the winter.) So maybe November is worth a shot. What was your experience like? Were there enough hostels still open?
I started walking from St Jean Pied de Port on 21st October and arrived in Santiago 34 days later, so most of it fell within November. The weather was on the whole amazing - there were maybe 6 days of rain in total and otherwise blue skies and really nice conditions - hopefully you can see from some of my photos! The whole experience was perfect, because there were still plenty of people around but you had your own space, and could sometimes go a day’s walking without seeing anyone at all, to then find your Camino friends waiting in the next Albergue. The days aren’t unbearably hot like the Summer when you have to leave at 5am, and there’s no rush to get your next destination to fight for beds, because there’s ALWAYS space and private Albergues lower prices to compete. There were some really magical experiences that just couldn’t have happened at any other time of year. There’s plenty of Albergues open too.