“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

In about 90 minutes from my typing this, a taxi will start me on my way. THE Way, many say. 33 days of walking. El Camino de Santiago. A starting point in the south of France. A finish line in Santiago, Spain.

The feels are as real as the questions swimming through my mind. Will I make it to Santiago? Will discomfort and homesickness plague me for an entire month’s time? Have I severely overpacked my 65L backpack? Will I love or despise this entire experience?

Only time and the effort will reveal what’s to come. Only my steps will uncover how far outside my comfort zone I’ll actually reach. And how much of it I’ll be able to handle. Hopefully everything. Hope is everything.

When my taxi arrives, I’ll still have a little time before the reality of this adventure truly settles in. First stop, Paris. Four days with two of my best friends. And Disney. A little more normalcy before the insanity.

When my taxi arrives, I may meet my greatest challenge yet. Saying goodbye to my amazing family. Leaving them for the longest time. But it’s just a month. Only a month. Like a cycle of bills. And, boy, do those always come fast.

It’s been an emotional roller coaster. Straight into the unknown with my eyes wide open.


I’m writing from my Paris hotel room. Later than I should be writing anything. Tomorrow’s a big day.

Goodbyes continue to prove difficult. After four days in the City of Lights, with two of the best friends one could only conjure in dreams, it’s time to say goodbye. Separate paths. Two back home. Mine onward, to something new.

Paris was all it ever needed to be. The monuments. The Tower. The food, the wine. The language of love. That I continue to butcher. Disney disappointed. But Orlando wears its crown for a reason. Still, I’m charmed beyond measure. A return imminent.

But, for this pilgrimage, Paris served as the buffer. The training. The emotional, mental, and physical exercise. The international calm before the pilgrimatical storm.

My path leaves Paris in the morning. To the south of France. St. Jean Pied de Port. The start of the longest journey I’ve ever taken. The start of what many deem life-changing.

It takes a lot to change a life. And not everyone can handle excess.



Today, I arrived in Saint-John-Pied-de-Port, the starting line of the Camino Frances. The most popular route of El Camino de Santiago. It’s a stunning town full of old buildings and cobblestone streets. Surrounded by some of the most picturesque mountains I’ve ever seen. It was an exciting and surreal arrival.

Fast forward to now, laying in bed, mentally preparing for tomorrow’s first day of hiking, I’m honestly struggling. I wish I could write of nothing but optimism and adventure, but I can’t help but to feel overwhelmed with the journey ahead. Homesick and a bit lonely in this all-too-quiet and supremely-quaint hotel. After so much build-up, it’s a strange feeling to finally be here. It feels like a dream.

Maybe it’s because I’m still coming down from my Paris high. Maybe it’s because I already miss my friends. Haven’t yet stopped missing my family. And still 33 days to go. It’s a lot. And while I fully intend to face my trepidations head-on, I can’t promise that this journal won’t end next week with reflections of an early flight back home.

I met a British woman named Kate tonight while eating dinner in one of the many tiny restaurants in town. She starts her Camino tomorrow as well. She’s been dealing with a recent bout of cold feet that snuck up on her ten days ago, after a whole year of planning. We suddenly realized that we shared much of the same fears. Similar doubts and people back home. It was at least refreshing to know I wasn’t alone.

Tomorrow is Day One, which many claim to be the most difficult day of the walk, crossing over the Pyrenees mountains and into Spain. That’s probably not helping either.

I hope some much-needed sleep changes my perspective. And maybe tomorrow’s start inspires that sense of optimism and adventure. I may also discover that this journey isn’t made for me. And that’s okay too. All that matters is I try. And try I shall.

At least my first room has one helluva view.

Roncesvalles Pilgrims' Hostel


I have a corny little \240“quote of the day” app on my phone. We could always use a little inspiration these days, right? I’ve had the app for quite some time and I was a bit taken aback by today’s coincidental quotation. Especially considering my mindset last night. So, of course, I screenshotted it.

Emotional and mental gymnastics aside… I’m officially in Spain! Today was the first day of my 33-day pilgrimage. A 9-hour trek to Roncevalles, over the Pyrenees Mountains. And now, here I am, in a bottom bunk surrounded by dozens of sleeping strangers. A first for me. I’m surprised at how well I’m tolerating it, yet I’m terrified to move or make a single sound. Sorry, bladder. You’re gonna have to hang in there.

I personally know a lot about hanging in there as of late. Last night was rough. I doubted everything. Doubted myself. “Why am I doing this?” “Will I feel this lonely for an entire month?” “What’s the nearest airport and what flights are available back home?” Defeated was an understatement. Everything I’ve gained from years of international travel had departed my being. I was a complete novice in uncharted territory. I awoke this morning and compelled myself to walk.

Enter Lucy. A 20-something introvert from the UK who quit her job to spend 30+ days on some wild walk through Spain. Hoping to find her true calling and purpose.

Enter James. An Irish farmer, my age, who spends his free time exploring the world. Taking on that next adventure. Like me. Forever adding to his list.

They saved me today. And I didn’t hesitate to tell them by day’s end. Multiple times. Because that’s what you do when people save you from the depths of doubt. And, in some small way, I’d like to believe I did the same for them. Our evening culminated in our first dinner together. Celebrating a first day done. And, in the end, I sensed that we all kinda needed each other.

Is this what the Camino does? Is this why everyone loves it so much? Because it brings people together under extravagant and daunting circumstances?

I’m not completely sure how long we’ll walk together. 33 days is a big commitment for yourself, let alone matching itineraries up with others. But I’m grateful for what they gave me for just a single day.


Hostel Rio Arga


I missed my nightly entry because I was a little too busy with wine and beer. Much-needed tonics to wash away the nerves and doubt. A morning reflection is just as well, while I’m needing a different kind of tonic for a more familiar feeling. Walking 15 miles with a hangover is probably a special kind of torture.

I finished Day 2! I should be feeling somewhat victorious, but that number only reminds me of how much I have left. The doubt is still there, and I still don’t know what the outcome will ultimately be, but I continue to take things one day at a time. That’s all I really can do.

Yesterday was a walk filled with a few more ups and downs (terrain and emotions). A bunch of forest and rocky slopes that did a number on my knees and feet. Zubiri was our destination and we made it safely after several stops and starts.

We walk on now to Pamplona. Our first big city. Running of the Bulls territory. So walk on I will. As long as I can. But, for now, I’m a little too hungover to type much of anything else. So, to close, here’s a little glimpse of the beautiful tribe that’s formed thus far… the one that’s been keeping me going…



Hola, Pamplona! Boy, it was nice to be in a city again. Plenty of food and resources and energy all around. It was oddly comforting to hear the obnoxious sounds of honking horns and the sight of people forming Conga lines down the narrow city streets. A proper Friday night where the vibes were perfection. It was the first stop on this journey where I felt I needed to return one day. Shame to leave so much life so soon.

Beyond the vibes and infectious energy, Pamplona is simply stunning. And particularly unique.

I don’t think I could ever forget seeing these buildings, these streets, for that very first time. I instantly knew I was somewhere special.

This is my second morning post. My intended evening reflection was again derailed. This time not by alcohol excess, but plain fatigue. And I got my first blister! Hopefully the last.

The walk to Pamplona was probably my favorite yet. Tons of ever-changing scenery before we hit the city. Walks through a gorgeous forest-like setting along the river. The sounds were everything. Uplifting. Right along with that Spanish sun.

Now it’s on to Day 4. To Puente La Reina. The Irish have been my greatest companions along the way, the best champions. As strong as the sun.

Tina and Mick, in particular, wanted a shoutout on the blog…

Estrella GuΓ­a


No, this entry title shouldn’t suggest that I’m questioning leaving the Camino. Luckily, my confidence has risen somewhat. Just somewhat lol.

No, this is about meeting — and joining — incredible people along the way. And wondering whether you might be overstaying your welcome.

Today (yes, another morning entry), we head to the town of Estella. A little over 13 miles away. I’m currently staying in a hostel different from those of my traveling companions. The tribe we’ve formed from the beginning. Since I booked accommodations in advance, it’s often difficult for them to join me because of a lack of vacancy. And as I sit here in this hostel, the last one to leave, I wonder if I should walk on ahead, alone.

Meeting people from all over the world is probably the best part of walking El Camino de Santiago. These people have certainly given me the motivation to keep walking each day. But it’s sometimes difficult to assess when someone wants company or prefers a solo journey.

Truth is, I don’t want to go alone. At least not yet. I’m not sure if I’m ready to take the training wheels off at the moment. Though I’m sure I’d manage.

Along the way, I’ve been expressing my doubts to those I’ve been walking with, and I can’t help but question whether or not that was a good idea. I’d never want anyone to feel obligated to stick it out with me, especially if it carried them from their Way.

Each day reveals something new. New sights. New challenges. New people. A new outlook. New answers. And I’m open to them all. Whether I like it or not.

Alda Estella Hostel


All the muscles are flexing. The physical. The mental. The emotional. The last five days have exercised more than I could possibly imagine. And, as with any exercise, strength eventually makes an appearance.

I’m getting used to this. Falling into a daily routine. Adapting to the pilgrim lifestyle. Realizing that I can truly be as alone as I want to be. That I can keep walking and walking and walking and walking. That anything is truly possible.

But if I keep thinking about how many days are left, I begin to regress. To revert to thoughts of home, the comforts of family and friends. The TV shows I’m missing out on. Rupaul and her queens. I can’t wait to see them again.

This really is a “one day at a time” adventure. A step-by-step challenge. The bigger picture still remains a bit daunting. When the impossible sneaks its way into my mind. So I need to remain focused and determined to reach the daily destination — and not much beyond.

Estella was another stunning city. Another trip back in time. Incredible architecture. A bit more high end than previous locales, with its glamour shops and salons. I don’t think I’ve seen fashion retail until now. But, still, its apparent history prevails with Estella’s churches and squares.

Onwards now to Los Arcos. Day 6. More Spanish wine for $1.70. More tiptoes into hostel dorms a little too late. Disturbing the pilgrim peace. Things I’m still getting used to.

I’m not sure the growing pains ever completely end. Life is growth. Growth is life. Feeling some strain this morning as our little Camino family divides for the first time. As two stay back for a day of rest.

Lucy. Kate. You are both remarkable. In completely individual ways. It was a blessing to meet you, as you inspired me to stay strong with your own strengths and selves. I hope our paths cross again. Somewhere. Someday.

We may have not realized it at the time, but we had one helluva final dinner together.

albergue casa de la abuela


The winds have changed. Two instead of four. An inevitable shift. One of, what I believe to be, many to come. But we were a lucky group.

James and I leave at dark this morning, to finally catch the sunrise. Leaving Los Arcos on our longest day yet. About 28km to Logroño, leaving the Navarra region behind for the first time. Entering La Rioja.

We continue to see familiar faces along the path, some after days of not seeing each other at all. Catching up. Comparing stories. Letting each other know, in our own subtle subliminal ways, that we’re not alone. Familiar faces are fuel on this journey. At least for me.

New faces have also entered the fold. They may have started in a later town. On another path. We may have caught up to them. Or vice versa. New names and countries to remember. Potential motivators as they blossom into familiarity.

El Camino de Santiago is an ebb and flow of personalities that push you along the way of your limits. I’ve yet to reach mine. And I continue to wonder — and worry — if I will. Particularly today.

It was too cloudy to see the sunrise. And the winds continue to shift…

PensiΓ³n La Bilbaina


I think it’s probably important to take a break from the melodrama and reflect on what it’s like to sleep on the Camino.

A significant source of my anxiety while planning this trip was the idea of sleeping in a room chock-full of strangers. As someone who appreciates a fair amount of personal space, I wasn’t sure if I’d be up for it. And 33 private rooms wasn’t an option for the wallet. Could I be vulnerable enough to succumb to sleep around these people? I had no choice but to try.

Ultimately, it ain’t so bad. Mostly because there is a major “we’re all in this together” mentality. These aren’t just strangers. They’re fellow pilgrims. Tired pilgrims. And it makes all the difference.

While the discomfort of dormitory life has somewhat subsided, there are a few annoyances that I’m still trying to adapt to. You can’t get in too late. No easy feat for this night owl. Can’t make too much noise. I’ve already been grunted at while rummaging through my backpack. And I truly try to channel the mime in me. Pure silence. Also no easy feat.

And then there’s sharing bathroom/shower space. Never fun. Anywhere.

Despite my surprising tolerance of shared sleeping space, I slept in a private room last night — and it was GLORIOUS.

Today, we leave Logroño, another taste of Spanish city life since Pamplona. Always a treat for me. Echos of home. Onwards to Nájera. Another long day of walking.

One whole week in the books! Week 2 begins…

Albergue Puerta de NΓ‘jera


I’m beginning to feel like a Pilgrim Pro. I’m not, by any means. But I’m certainly getting into the rhythm of things. Walking around the albergues (aka pilgrim hostels) with a tad more confidence. Morning routines on repeat, day after day. The window into the unknown is revealing more, defogging a bit with each and every step.

The growing pains are mostly physical now. My legs, knees, thighs, and feet are speaking to me a little more. Wondering WTF is going on. I feel them scold me after standing up from every single seat I take. No more blisters (yet), thankfully. But this is still new territory for the lower half of my body. Quite literally. And I sure am feeling it.

Today is Day 9 and we’re leaving Nájera, but the destination isn’t the same for those of us walking together. Albergues are filling up and it’s becoming difficult for many to find accommodations, forcing them to walk on to a further town. This is a busy time for the Camino, especially now, considering those who had put their adventure on hold, courtesy of COVID. It would seem that now is truly the time.

I’d like to take a moment to thank my OCD and penchant for structure for having every accommodation, for every night, booked in advance. It’s nice to know where and when I’ll be laying my head. No guessing games. Just walking.

The emotional and mental pangs of this journey have somewhat subsided. A little excitement takes over as we head into double-digit days. Accomplishment is healing. Even on the outskirts of the unknown.

Albergue CofradΓ­a del Santo


I consider myself a fairly social person. I feel like I could talk to practically anyone, anywhere. It’s almost a kind of superpower to me, one that I pride myself on. And on adventures such as El Camino de Santiago, it most definitely comes in handy.

But there’s a flipside to making connections. As with anything one gains, one stands to lose. And while some connections may be brief and casual, others can be rather impactful.

I’ve been leaning on connections this entire walk. The camaraderie I’ve been a part of these past nine days have been a blessing, but it’s also been shining a heavy spotlight on my weaknesses.

Today is Day 10, onwards to Belorado, and it’s a day of letting go. James, the last of the original quartet, has parted ways to rack up the kilometers on a new phase in his journey. It’s been a sad moment, without a morning meet-up to share, for the first time on this thing, but it’s only a moment nonetheless.

Those pesky weaknesses are showing again.

The truth is, saying goodbye is a bitch. And some goodbyes are more strenuous than others. They’re a part of life. We know that. But I’m beginning to understand, more and more, the challenges they’re presenting me on the Camino.

The training wheels are off now. It’s time to forge on ahead. This time, with zero expectations. On my own.

Albergue Cuatro Cantones - Restaurante


“And I… keep on smiling… keep on moving. Can’t stand still.” ~ Alanis Morrissette

Back to my bedtime reflections, writing from the top bunk in what I believe will be one of my favorite hostels…

I walked alone all day for the first time today. Starts and stops to myself. Then again, I wasn’t purely alone. I had Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, and Jewel alongside me. Among others. So many others.

(This is around the time I fell asleep. A pilgrim can only stay awake so long once in that bed. Fast forward to the morning of Day 11…)

Music is a presence all its own. It’s a metaphorical shoulder to lean on. A one-sided conversation where all you have to do is listen. And listen. And listen.

Sunshine + Music = EVERYTHING. They have the power to heal and invigorate. To set the tone for whatever world you wanna live in. An unstoppable combo. One to befriend. And befriend I did.

Yesterday’s walk to Belorado was probably my most personally-fulfilling yet. Getting lost in my headphones, basking in the sun, taking in all that Spain endlessly has to offer, and spending some quality time with myself. I needed it more than anything.

I’m beginning to wonder whether or not my Camino is best spent walked alone, at least for the majority. I still stand by what I’ve said before… meeting people, from around the globe, is a precious gift that El Camino de Santiago continuously offers. It could very well be the most meaningful part of this entire experience. But yesterday’s journey offered something different. And I’m all about variety.

I think, in the end, it’s all about the balance. Connection. Solitude. The best versions of ourselves should be able to celebrate both. Perhaps that’s another important lesson to take from the Camino.

Belorado was a quiet, but cool, village with some really spectacular murals. So many familiar faces stayed at the same awesome albergue. I loved that place. Laundry service. A garden. A pool. The most peculiar outdoor playlist that included a Spanish Bruno Mars cover, instrumental Celine Dion, and the Beetlejuice score. The Stranger Things theme even made an appearance. Peculiar, but kinda perfect.

The evening culminated in an enjoyable communal dinner that reminded me of the importance in connection. I met and sat with two polar-opposite Aussies: one was enduring, the other struggling. More balance. And the food was delish.

All in all, it was a productive day in subtle-yet-powerful ways. It proved to me that I can happily do this sh*t on my own. And when the going gets tough, I can just turn up the volume.

“On the road again. Goin’ places that I’ve never been. Seein’ things that I may never see again. I can’t wait to get on the road again.” ~ Willie Nelson

Hotel Rural La Henera - San Juan de Ortega


In random moments, I imagine myself as a determined Dorothy. Bumping into the occasional Scarecrow. Trudging down the Yellow Brick Road with a heavy picnic basket in tow. The Emerald City glittering on the horizon. Through all the poppy fields one can fathom.

Today, I’m thinking those ruby slippers must’ve been a real pain in the ass.

I discovered my second blister last night. On my right heel. I popped it with a santized safety pin, played nurse, and bandaged it to perfection. I’m so glad I bought those blister adhesives I never thought I’d use.

Beyond that, my calves continue to get super tight, and I’m feeling the burn in my feet and knees. I occasionally sport a bit of a limp when the terrain calls for it.

They say the first two weeks are the most difficult. The body’s probationary period. Getting used to the steps, the miles, the hills, the asphalt, the mud, the rocks. Day. After. Day.

It’s Day 12, and I’ve been meeting people who are having a rough time, with mentions of maybe cutting their Camino short. Whether it be an excess of blisters, stomach matters, or just plain fatigue. I emphasize with them, with hopes they’ll persevere, while also grateful that I haven’t reached that point. Crossing my fingers and blistered toes that I never will.

Last night was a peaceful night in San Juan de Ortega, with the best night’s sleep I’ve yet to have on this pilgrimage. Before that, I joined Mick & Tina — quite possibly the most extraordinary human beings on this Camino — for a magically-modest dinner meal. Mas vino tinto y sangria.

On to Burgos! With a bandaged heal and more of a skip in my step. Continually praying for a painless passage through Spanish Oz. Like our favorite Kansas kween.

Happy Hostal Carrales Burgos


The road to Burgos felt like an eternity. It wasn’t the longest stretch I’ve walked in a day, but my body was telling me otherwise. With aches and pains more noticeable than ever. Luckily, I spent the somewhat-grueling day in great company.

Tina. Mick. Jubilate. Emma. Lissa. Sean.

I was expecting a solo walk, but multiple run-ins at various cafes revealed that Fate graciously had other plans. We joined forces in search of the alternate river route, a scenic option to dodge the unpleasant traffic and highway route into the city. After some directional confusion and much-needed breaks, we finally made it to the beautiful city of Burgos!

I can understand why people would want a day of rest in Burgos. The city was bustling with life. Beautifully-lined streets with parks, cafes, street performers, and anything else you could possibly want. Even, apparently, a Burger King.

But at the tippy-top of the Burgos to-do list was it’s massive and majestic Cathedral.

I’ve seen many cathedrals and churches all over the world, but this particular House of God ranks pretty high. I felt like I was walking through the real-life halls of Hogwarts. The architecture, the sculptures, the stained glass were all unbelievably exquisite. I would have taken it all in a bit more, if time allowed, but dinner was calling.

After my all-too-swift tour of the Cathedral, the day’s group reconvened in the city square for a wonderful evening of food and drink. With even more familiar faces added to the mix.

Thinking back now on dinner, at this fabulous gathering of people, recent strangers, all here for a single purpose… I believe I was witnessing the true magic of the Camino. It brought all of us together in this extraordinary way that none of us will ever forget.

The allure of Burgos kept some of these remarkable people behind, for that understandable day of rest, so goodbyes were shared. But, as I’d learned, that was part of the Camino too.

On now to Hornillos del Camino… unsure of what the day will contribute to this month-long mosaic of memories.

Hornillos Meeting Point


From the early days of my Camino, I’ve heard much about the Meseta. Vast stretches of land. Endless rolling hills. Some love it. Some loathe it. Some pilgrims even skip it, taking a bus to a more convenient stretch of the path.

Yesterday, I met the Meseta. Albeit briefly, as it began shortly before Hornillos del Camino, my destination for the day. This morning I’ll be continuing on it for several hours.

The days through the Meseta have been described as time for reflection. Where the only sounds are nature, and the occasional pilgrim behind or in front of you.

I invite the Meseta. I invite the reflection. The peace. Maybe some moments with music. There’s no way in hell I’m hopping on a bus after all I’ve already accomplished.

Once I arrived in Hornillos, those refreshing familiar faces were almost non-existent. So many have stayed behind. So many elsewhere. The only ones I saw were ones where bonds have barely been forged. And they probably never will be. As in everyday life, there are just some people you know you’d never vibe with.

It was a bit of a downer at first, but then came time for my albergue’s communal dinner.

Paella! I’m not sure I ever had paella, certainly not anything authentic. But it was delicious! Full of flavor and, thankfully, no seafood. This was all chicken and veggies.

I was fortunate enough to strike up conversations with pilgrims from Germany, Spain, and Sweden. Talks of the finish line and how far we’ve come. It was a nice way to end a day that was mostly, and pleasantly, spent in solitude.

My legs feel a bit stronger today. Fewer aches and pains. Though the blister on my right heel has re-filled and won’t seem to go away just yet. Right now it’s the only blister I have, and it’s not giving me much grief, so I’m grateful.

Castrojeriz is the goal for today. Where I should reunite with some of those fantastic familiar faces. Once there, two weeks on the Camino will be official notches on my pilgrim belt.

Albergue de peregrinos San Esteban


Two weeks done. Two and a half more to go. I got this. But there are still some times, far and few between as of late, when I just want to click my heels and call it a day.

I’m writing again from the top bunk. In an uncomfortably-warm albergue amid the teeny town of Castrojeriz. The sun is setting and the pilgrims are already set for slumber. I, personally, don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep through all this heat.

Homesickness struck again today. When I arrived in town, there were no familiar faces in sight, yet everyone seemed to know each other and speak the same language. Barely a pilgrim around. When I attempted to check in, nobody was quick to help, nor did they understand a word I said. It was a challenging arrival.

It is possible to feel at home, at peace, in a strange land. But, here, I was an outsider, through and through. In that moment, all I wanted was my own bed and a Big Mac.

I miss my family. I miss my apartment. I miss my GrubHub go-to’s. I miss my comfort zone.

But I also love this adventure. This is what life is all about. To see and experience the world outside your own bubble. To immerse yourself in the unknown, to make it known, discomforts and all. The world is way too extraordinary to stay sedentary. Move. Get out there. Put the Big Mac down and GO.

I’m here.

One day at a time.

You can do this.

The rewards will be incomparable.

Mantras that keep me walking.

It also helped that the hospitalero/caretaker of my albergue bought me a glass of wine. I think he could tell I was stressed. I had two more.

Needless to say, it was refreshing to run into Kerry from Boston again. I’d seen Kerry from time to time throughout the Camino. Small talk and smiles. Not much more. But, on this day, mutual hunger led to quality conversation and a well-deserved lunchtime meal together.

And, for the first time on this journey, I finally found someone who had the same timeline as me. Kerry also plans/hopes/wishes/prays to hit Santiago on May 29. No rest days. Quite possibly the same exact daily destinations. It was a comforting discovery. Finish line twins.

The rest of the day was quiet. No dinner. No town exploration. Just rest and relaxation. A must for the muscles. As Week 3 begins.

Albergue Luz de FrΓ³mista


Fear is a thief. It is unforgiving in its ability to steal our greatest moments. It robs us of our ability to be present. It keeps us from our best and most beautiful selves. From living our most fulfilled and extraordinary lives.

I’ve spent more than enough time on this Camino allowing it to consume me. I’ve been plagued with self-doubt. Overwhelmed by what I think I might not be able to handle. Worried incessantly about people back home. Afraid.

After a lovely conversation and dinner with two Irish lads — Joe and Dave — “Holy Joe” began to serenade us with his best Louis Armstrong as we made our way back to the albergue.

“The bright blessed day. The dark sacred night.”

Reality Check: I’ve spent the last two weeks walking through SPAIN! I’ve casually strolled through its rich history and incredible landscapes. Passed insane buildings that seemed to have inspired every Indiana Jones movie. Eating food I’ve never had the joy (or displeasure) of experiencing. Breathing in the freshest air I may have ever blessed my lungs with. And I’m doing it with people from all around this wonderful world. This beautiful, gorgeous, remarkable, crazy, miraculous world.

Focus, Corey.

Don’t let it take all this from you.

You may be eager to make it back to your comfort zone. But Regret may meet you at the front door.

Keep your eyes and heart open. Feel EVERY emotion. But hold on to this next half of the Camino for dear life. Before memory takes its place.

Albergue EspΓ­ritu Santo


Today marks the halfway point for my time on the Camino. Purely time-wise. Day 17 of 33. When it comes to distance, I hit the halfway mark tomorrow. But, in my head and my heart, this adventure is half over.

Considering how I felt on Day 1, on the precipice of flying back home, I’m fairly proud of myself. This day, in itself, is quite an achievement. Over 200 miles walked. Perseverance pays off.

That similar sense of pride now begins to swell whenever I see pilgrim symbolism along the trail. Sculptures, statues, and signs that exude history and tradition.

I look at these structures, and I think, “that’s me.”

I’m a pilgrim.

It wasn’t a title I’d felt deserving of. Something I wasn’t entirely embracing. Until now.

This morning, I leave Carrión de los Condes and head to Terradillos de los Templarios. There’s a 10-mile stretch with zero facilities on the way. No water. No toilets. No cafes. No big deal. My backpack is stocked.

My legs and feet have gotten stronger. I think they know the deal now. The blister on my heal is still there, but it seems to be improving. The only blister at the moment. I’m grateful.

I plan to celebrate this evening with a bit of wine and, of course, a phone call home. All the while, clutching my scallop shell necklace a little tighter.

The scallop shell is the symbol of El Camino de Santiago. For me, it’ll forever symbolize so much more.

Hostel Los Templarios


It’s funny how old fears are almost instantly replaced by different fears. As if we’re always subconsciously looking for something to be worried about.

As the days and miles wear on, I’m continuing to hear more and more stories of people being affected by injury. Tales of infected blisters and tendinitis, sending some people packing. Some stories even came with photos, which tend to linger in the mind a bit.

At this point in my journey, as I pass through Sahagún today, the official midway point between St. Jean and Santiago, I do NOT want to go home. I’ve come way too far. So I need to tread lightly. Literally.

I can only take these tales of terror as motivation to heed caution. To take breaks. To not walk as briskly. To take very good care of the only blister I currently have. The one that seems to be healing in the morning, and back in full force after a day of walking. Please. Go. Away. Lawd, the stress.

Last evening, I had a new dinner friend, Amanda from Maine. Her kids and husband gifted her this Camino trip for her big 4-0. But she’s here solo.

Amanda has yet to be cursed with a blister, and she immediately knocked on our wooden dinner table at my mention of them. She did, however, suffer a knee injury on Day 1. Can you imagine? But she keeps on walking.

All we can do is keep on walking.

Albergue La Perala


The above photo is a mural at the albergue I stayed in last night. And it might be my favorite mural yet. Because it’s me. I see this image and I understand it wholeheartedly.

I think back to the first half of my journey, and I almost see a completely different person walking this Camino. And the fact that this mural even exists proves that this is a common evolution here.

Starting defeated and overwhelmed. Alone.

Attaining more confidence. A little more spring in your step.

Finally standing tall. Wiser. Stronger. Pilgrim pride.

It’s a remarkable journey on so many levels.

Yesterday was filled with such a refreshing energy as we passed through Sahagún and received our halfway completion certificate. A sense of accomplishment was most certainly in the air. We have all truly come so far. It’s astonishing to think about. To look at a map and see.

Going the distance, Hercules-style.

I had dinner with Felipe from Brazil and Dirk from Germany, a man who has walked a Camino every year for 19 years. Leaving hidden treasures along the way each time, marking them on a map, for his kids to find when they walk their Camino one day. Another fascinating story.

It was awesome to be surprised with familiar faces as dorm roomies. Felipe, Kerry from Boston, and Natalie from Belgium. It was probably the best sleep I’ve had so far. Zero snoring.

It’s now Day 19. Heading to Mansilla de las Mulas. Before going to the big city of León tomorrow. Where KFC awaits.

Standing tall. Stronger.

Albergue de Gaia


I had dinner, drinks, and quality conversation with these spectacular humans last night. With everything I know now, I took it all in. All that rarified air. Every moment now is fleeting. And precious.

For I couldn’t know, nor expect, to have dinner, drinks, or quality conversation with them ever again. This isn’t summer camp. It’s El Camino de Santiago. There are no guarantees of anything.

It wasn’t too long ago when a fellow pilgrim first mentioned how fast the days were going, how sad they were, how they didn’t want this all to end. And, in that moment, in what seemed like a lifetime ago, I questioned their sanity. Because, to me, this was something to finish. To complete. A strenuous array of obstacles to overcome.

Now is the beginning of Day 20. And as I walk on to León, I think of these 14 days of walking I have left. Have I gotten it all wrong?

I’ve come to understand what the guidebooks and Camino connoisseurs have been saying. This isn’t an endeavor to put behind you. It’s a full immersion. A lifestyle to experience. To live. A way to be.

Have I been a fool for not embracing that forever-ingrained ideology about focusing on the journey and not wholly the destination? Have I wasted weeks on worry? Or has my delayed appreciation for all that I’ve experienced — and endured — all been a part of the big Camino plan? I’d like to believe it’s the latter.

I will miss this. This is going really fast. And it does makes me sad to think of this adventure being behind me.

Do I miss home and the people in my life? Absolutely. Am I ecstatic about the idea of reaching Santiago? 100%. But saying goodbye to the Camino is going to be all kinds of bittersweet. Who knew?

Tonight, I get back to city life. A welcome change from the Meseta and string of quiet villages. And while I’ve come to appreciate (and enjoy!) all that albergue dorms contribute to Camino life, I’m especially looking forward to my private room tonight.

Ya gotta treat yo’ self! Even on El Camino de Santiago.

Hostal BayΓ³n


When you think of Spain, you probably think of great wine and sumptuous cuisine. I’ve certainly indulged in more than enough wine, but when it comes to food… let’s just say… the pilgrim menu is a bit lacking. But at least we have some choices.

Starters: Soup, salad, or spaghetti bolognese.

Main Course: Basic chicken, pork, or fish.

Dessert: A paper cup of ice cream, yogurt, or an apple.

Fairly standard for a pilgrim dinner. Every single day.

Needless to say, when I was told that the path into León took us directly to a KFC, I immediately started salivating — and that was over a week ago.

The sight of Colonel Sanders could probably be equated to seeing a most-fabulous mirage in the middle of a sun-soaked desert. But this was no Kentucky-fried delusion. I could practically taste the BBQ sauce.

It was closed.

I continued to trudge along into León, another stunning Spanish city. Within its walls stood another exquisite cathedral with some of the most beautiful stained glass I’d ever seen. The city was full of life and, yes, plenty of food.

I trudged along until I came to my next oasis.

Burger King was set to open in about ten minutes when I got there. The longest ten minutes of my life. But it was worth the wait, as I overindulged in chicken nuggets, a cheeseburger, gouda rings, and an array of sauces. Life was oh-so-good.

The additional comforts of a private room made for a pleasant introduction to the city. My hostel was nestled on the second floor of a very old, very charming building near the city centre. Once settled, I reunited with so many of my fellow pilgrims whom I had encountered along the way. I sure do love when that happens. Reunions are pure seratonin on the Camino.

Dinner proved to be even more satisfying than lunch, not only because of more delicious food, but due to the quality company we kept. Mick and Tina invited us out for Asian cuisine, which was absolute music to my ears.

The Thai rolls were crispy flaky heaven. I ordered Pad Thai for my main course and, while it tasted nothing like the Pad Thai I regularly have in New York, it still managed to be perfect. Today was clearly a day for food and friends. A great day, indeed.

This morning, before leaving my hostel, I met a pilgrim from Belgium named Louis. It was his first day of the Camino and he was alone.

I had been looking forward to a day of walking alone with my music, but Louis suggested we walk together. I couldn’t say no. How could I possibly even think about saying no? If anyone understood the power of companionship on this journey — especially at the beginnning — it was me.

I’m not sure how great of a walking buddy I ended up qualifying as, spending most of my time in introspection, but I believe Louis had a good day.

As the winds continue to shift again…

Albergue El Refugio de JesΓΊs


“The Camino provides.”

That’s what they say.

In times of hardship, or even of a basic need, the solution is magically supposed to present itself. So you can keep on walking. Keep on moving. And, if you’re lucky, keep on smiling.

It’s true. The Camino does, indeed, provide. For me, it provided something most extraordinary: the incomparable comfort of family.

To the coolest cats in Cork…

Thank you for being my northern star. Not always seen. But always present. Shining brighter than any other soul on this road. Guiding me (and so many others) towards the beautiful reality that anything is possible. Towards hope.

The Camino provides.

And, yes, I’m one of the lucky ones who get to keep on smiling.

Because of you.

Thank you.

Albergue de peregrinos de Astorga


Yesterday was a trial of sorts. A day that went on and on and on and on. A brand new day. With new faces. New challenges. Always new challenges.

Even writing this journal has proven difficult. With a shift from therapeutic writing to simply making it through the day physically. But the story must continue. I’d hate to look back and find gaps.

I began the day with Liv from Denmark and Louis from Belgium. From breakfast to walking and talking once again. It’s fascinating how ever-evolving this journey has been. Sharing days with completely new and different personalities. I can practically feel the page turn to new chapters with each and every sunrise.

I said my goodbyes to Liv and Louis midway through the day, as they felt my remaining distance was a bit much. It was.

It was a day of about 20 miles and eight hours. The longest day yet. Hills upon hills. And the strong Spanish sun.

A respite from the ups and downs arrived in the form of a pop-up sanctuary, where you can drink and eat for a donation. Very cool place. My OCD kept me from indulging in the shared snacks, apart from a single banana. Still, I left revitalized.

But I wasn’t completely at peace. The blister on my heel had not only remained for far too long, it was beginning to become a little red. Concerns of infection plagued my brain with every carefully-placed step. A diagnosis with the power to derail anyone’s Camino.

I had also started my day late, and my destination albergue didn’t accept reservations, so worries of not getting a bed was also weighing on my mind.

In the end, as one does when you continue putting one weary foot in front of the other, I reached my destination. I also visited a clinic in town, where a doctor tended to my blister and declared it uninfected. And I got my bed.

Another day done. Another day closer to the Emerald City.

Albergue Nuestra SeΓ±ora del Pilar


I’m writing again from the top bunk. Not sure I’ll have time for journaling in the morning, for tomorrow is a big day.

Tomorrow is Day 24, and we’re heading UP. A steep climb to the highest point on the entire Camino. Around 5,000 feet. And then it’s down, down, down — which I’ve read is the most strenuous part.

Because of what’s expected to be a challenging day mañana, today was one of rest. This morning’s trek from Astorga to Rabanal del Camino was relatively short and easy, when it wasn’t overwhelmingly hot.

I spent much of the day in bed, allowing my muscles all the time they needed to chill and prepare. Mister Blister seems to finally be healing. I think I’m ready.

Beyond rest, I had an enjoyable lunch with Kevin from Amsterdam. A Tom Felton doppelgänger whom I fortunately got to know a bit more over decent pilgrim food. We discovered a mutual appreciation for karaoke — something we’re hoping to find somewhere along the Camino.

It’s crazy how I’m still seeing familiar faces after all this time. Some pop up after not seeing them for days upon days. Funny and lovely how that happens.

The mind and emotions are solid at the moment. Homesickness still coming in waves, but it’s bearable. There are almost single digit days left in this journey now.

Onwards and upwards we go.

SeΓ±or Oso Albergue y Horno de pan


We pilgrims have been blessed with wonderful weather. Little to no rain. Cloudy and cool days to make the long walks as pleasant as possible. And when the sun did shine, it was pretty bearable.

Until now.

A bit of a heat wave is hitting the Camino. And today’s walk up and down the mountains has allowed us to feel the burn. And provide a little heat exhaustion for yours truly.

It started out as a lovely hike, and the views were spectacular. We walked to the highest point of El Camino de Santiago, to a place many pilgrims look forward to greeting: the Cruz de Ferro, or the Iron Cross.

There, pilgrims will leave a rock, or a special object, behind to unload a burden or honor someone’s memory. I had my rock. And I placed it thoughtfully with much reflection. For my Mom. My grandfather. And the people I’m blessed to have in my life.

Going up was actually fine. Not as grueling as I’d expected. Going down was a special kind of torture. The lower we went, the warmer it got. The breeze became non-existent. It was steep, rocky, and my feet were on fire. The blister alarm bells were going off. I was afraid for what I’d discover upon removing my trail runners.

But they were okay, for now. The soles of my feet have definitely entered pre-blister territory. So I need to be careful. Just nine days of walking left. Can’t screw it up.

So I soaked my feet in the town’s river and bought some supplies at the local pharmacy. Compeed is a lifesaver.

Molinaseca is such a beautiful, charming town. I had dinner and wine by the river. Had another glass of wine with Kevin. Then decided to call it a night and prepare for another big day.

But the heat continued to haunt me.

My upper bunk, where I currently lay as I type this, felt like a furnace. I tossed, turned, unstuck myself from my sheets every five minutes, and felt my stomach churn. Food poisoning, not an uncommon ailment on the Camino, came to mind. But it was… is… entirely the heat.

Luckily my favorite German pilgrims, Julia and Sven, are staying at the same albergue. When they discovered me not in the best shape as they entered, they immediately came to my rescue.

Sven walked me to the river to cool down, then encouraged me to place my feet in its chilly current. I started shivering, and my stomach began to settle. His advice continued.

I was grateful to Sven for even giving a damn. As your Camino gets closer to the end, fears of something getting in your way become overwhelmingly present. We’ve come too far to become ill or face injury.

My itinerary, and my return flight, leave no room for rest days. I must stay the course.

Tomorrow is a 19-mile day in the same heat. Water and food breaks are mandatory. I don’t want to feel like this again. My stomach still isn’t 100%. And it sucks. But it’s better.

Thank you, Sven.

Albergue Leo


Pascal from Germany was my partner-in-crime for the walk to Villafranca del Bierzo yesterday. And I have no desire to focus on how painfully hot it was again, or that pesky distance, but instead on the lovely day it was despite the innate challenges presented.

Pascal works as a paramedic and has big Paris plans with his girlfriend following his Camino. Our conversation made 20km feel almost effortless, with talks of books, TV, film, and life in general.

We fed cats, kept a comfortable silence during the most strenuous parts, and shared some quality meals.

Pascal is one of the kindest people on the Camino and it was an honor to spend the day with him.

And then we arrive at Villafranca del Bierzo. Oh, Villafranca, how you’ve enamored me. As of now, it stands prominently at the top of my favorite Camino locations.

There is magic here. It’s nestled right in the middle of the mountains. The epitome of a mountain town. With a quaint river, beautiful buildings, and stunning 360° scenery, I would easily take a rest day here… if I could.

Pascal and I coincidentally booked the same albergue. Albergue Leo. Absolutely magnificent from the moment we stepped foot inside. Pleasant aromas. Candles lit around the lobby. Clearly a building with plenty of history.

A woman named Maria runs the place. The best hospitalero/host thus far. Incredibly warm and friendly. An obvious people-person whom I could see thriving in New York. She didn’t care that I was a euro short for payment. She even refused it later on, insisting I light a candle for her and her family in Santiago instead. I plan to. That’s three candles in total.

The magic continued when Maria gave myself and Pascal an option: staying in the traditional dorm or taking the two beds in the attic. After a look at the exquisitely-rustic attic and understanding we’d basically have a private room with all the space one would want, it was a no-brainer. And we had a fan.

The attic had a bit of a haunted, ghostly vibe with its creaks and cracks, but it was ultimately the perfect setting for such a unique and special place.

Leaving Villafranca for the “mother of all stages” this morning was bittersweet. I just wish I had more time. Especially as I witnessed even more of its beauty on the way out.

I’d love to come back. Even just for a weekend. A brief respite from the stresses of daily life. In this enchanted Spanish hideaway. One day.

Albergue Casa Campelo


Technology has frustrated and failed me today. I spent over an hour putting my thoughts and feelings to “paper” for this journal entry — only for it to disappear. I’ll try again, though it will pale in comparison to what was once fresh in my mind and heart. Thank you tons, mountain internet.

A week from this moment, my Camino will be over. And my original entry spoke of the mixed feelings that come with such limited time left.

There is no question that I’m excited to get back home, to see the people I’ve missed so dearly. To be back in my own familiar world again. But, as the days wind down, after all the challenges I’ve overcome, it’s becoming more and more clear what my final challenge of the Camino will ultimately be: leaving it.

I’ve been fortunate and truly blessed enough to have had some pretty incredible experiences in my life. It has been my mission to seek them out. It will always be my mission. And I can finally say, with every fiber of my being, that I’ve never experienced anything like this.

How does someone say goodbye to something so special? How can one ever anticipate experiencing something so wildly impactful and profound ever again? As with the Camino itself… one can only do their best.

But it ain’t over yet. Seven days left. And it’s time to be as PRESENT as possible. To slow down. To see everything. Hear everything. Feel everything. Before I can’t. The culmination of everything is becoming more and more palpable.

Yesterday, I finally reached Galicia. A region that once seemed worlds away. The final region of El Camino de Santiago. And I entered in cinematic fashion. At least that’s what it felt like.

Anticipating the steep and much-discussed climb up to O’Cebreiro. Watching from the bottom as dark clouds formed at the top, ominous as ever. Rain and sounds of thunder escalating as I walk higher and higher, alone. Entering the thick mist and fog before finally reaching the quiet, medieval town. Another that has managed to enchant me. Celtic and witchy vibes abound. Again, I wish I had more time.

That’s the thing, really: I wish I had more time. But New York is calling. What will this next week have in store? How will it feel to leave the Camino and all these incredible people, these pilgrims, behind? Potentially forever.

Seven more days until the unknown reveals itself.

Complexo Xacobeo Albergue & PensiΓ³n


I felt like I was being tested yesterday. And it all started with the rain.

There have (obviously) been several moments on this Camino where I’ve felt tested, but yesterday was different.

The rain didn’t fall right away. It was a slow progression. And when the rain picked up, so did the wind.

Even with a rain jacket doubled-up with a poncho, I felt drenched to the core. Dripping. Freezing. Walking. And walking. For two hours.

I kept telling myself… just one foot in front of the other… keep going… keep going. I sang to myself. Laughed. Huffed and puffed. Practically delirious.

But I made it to Triacastela. One with the rain. And more than ready for a soothing hot toddy.

The warmth of the tea could maybe make up for the rain, for the soaked socks, but, apparently, not everything can be satiated by heat.

I almost feel ridiculous delving into my next bit of supposed silliness. But this Camino, based on all my research, is meant to work the mind, to take you to places you may have never meant to go. Emotionally, that is.

So to dismiss my latest moment of weakness would be to neglect the point of this journal — and what my Camino is cultivating within me.

Connections are made daily here. All kinds of connections. Lately, I’ve been noticing some pilgrims (not many) pairing up. “Camino love” has even been tossed around.

Understandably, when people experience something as grand as the Camino together, day after day, week after week, sparks are bound to fly.

It’s not necessarily the lack of a pairing that brought out some fresh sense of loneliness last night, but perhaps the constant reminder that I fall in a minority. And that I lack a conversational freedom that others have and may take for granted. Especially when surrounded by those from a variety of countries and cultures.

Anyone in my “community” would understand my plight. That sparks may seem to fly… or perhaps float about a bit… but you usually have to let them fizzle out. Let them be what they most likely are. A mystery you’ll never, ever know.

My evening culminated in a moment that aligned humorously with this whole mindset. One that inspired me to believe that I was meant to endure such hopeless reflections.

Today, I head to Sarria, with a clear mind, and into the final stretch of El Camino de Santiago. One week from now, I’ll be on a plane to JFK, taking yesterday’s lessons along with me.

Albergue De Don Álvaro


I write from Sarria, a place that marks the true final stretch of the Camino. The last 100km. Where many pilgrims with time restraints and limited flexibility start their pilgrimage. The closest you can be to Santiago and still receive the Compostela certificate.

We’re also reminded to now receive two stamps per day on our pilgrim passport in order to be eligible for the Compostela. Another friendly reminder that things are winding down.

I look around in this morning moment of writing to see how many pilgrims are out and about, as the road gets busier from here on. Someone had once referred to the Camino as an amusement park once you hit Sarria. A tourist destination rather than a pilgrimage, some say.

I say, do what you’ve gotta do. Life’s too short to start comparing scores. But, yes, the road is somewhat bustling today in comparison to what has been.

Yesterday was a quiet day and a fairly basic hike. Short distance. A little rainy, but tolerable. A large, delicious Italian lunch with Pascal and Moritz, another German pilgrim who had randomly asked me for a selfie because I apparently looked like his brother. A funny moment with a cool guy.

I later met with the rest of our remaining Camino Crew for a glass of wine and more conversation. Missing Felipe. But hopes still stand that we’ll see him in Santiago. Felipe has been another shining light throughout this entire experience. At the very least, we have New York.

No dinner. Just shower and sleep. Eventually dreaming. Always dreaming.

Five days left.

Albergue Ferramenteiro


Yesterday was a good day. I spent most of it with my music again. The walk was gorgeous. The sun came back. Scenery was plentiful. And I officially reached the 100km mark.

The Camino has also, indeed, become significantly more crowded. More gift shops. More albergues. More lines for the bathroom. A lot more clean shoes.

I have conflicted feelings about the surge in attendance. It’s more difficult to find a moment alone. But I’ve never felt more “seasoned,” and it’s nice to see the excitement in those just starting out.

The vibe is definitely different. But the increased life and energy around me feels appropriate as we near the finish line. And I do mean WE.

We are the 29ers. We’ve been walking “together” for weeks now, and have slowly but surely come to the realization that we’re all planning to enter Santiago — and complete this crazy li’l adventure — on May 29th.

The term, 29er, is catching — and I love it! It comes along with a beautiful sense of camaraderie and closure. We’re basically finishing this together and for ourselves. It feels good to have a team of sorts. And as with any successful team, celebrations are inevitable.

The glorious day continued at our destination town of Portomarín, where most of us stayed in the same expansive albergue. We immediately banded together for food and drink, where the wine flowed. And flowed. And flowed.

Sthefani from Brazil broke out the bluetooth speaker and I played DJ, taking requests in rotation. We were the party of the restaurant (or the nuisance, depending on who you ask), with the sounds of Queen, ABBA, and Elton John radiating from our patio table.

As the evening progressed, and more alcohol was consumed, we began to join in, eventually standing up on outdoor furniture, incorporating choreography. Scratch that, we were the party of the city. No matter who you ask.

Today is Day 30. And I’m happy to say that I am hangover-free. Maybe a little dehydrated, but I’m currently working on that.

I walk alone again, but the last thing I feel is “alone.” It’s pretty incredible. I know they’ll be in Palas de Rei when I get there. And even if they weren’t, that’d be okay too. Because that’s just the way it is.

May 29 is closing in on us. And we’re ready to keep the party going. Plans for our Santiago celebration officially set in stone. Because we must celebrate, of course. In the best way possible: karaoke.

There will be so much to sing about.

Albergue Zendoira


Lifetimes ago, I worked as a waiter. Nothing would be more frustrating than working a closing shift and having my table sat mere minutes before the kitchen closed. I was on the precipice of going home and these late eaters ruined everything. My shift would be stretched, at minimum, to another hour.

My disdain for these folks ran deep, yet I’d always try to acknowledge that they’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. Their schedules, they’re appetites, dictated the timing. I’d put on a smile, and it wasn’t just for the tips. This was my job. It was how it was.

When I think of the Moonwalkers, I’m reminded of them.

I’ve now landed on one particular side of the fence when it comes to the newbie Pilgrims. Those who join the trail for the minimum five-ish days, instead of thirty-something. I’ve had a few “snobby” moments about it, and I hate it, truly, but a part of me can’t help it. Many of us can’t seem to help it.

The journey we’ve taken has been taxing, challenging, on a multitude of levels. Substantial levels of life-changing. The energy has shifted significantly with the addition of those who, understandably, treat it more like a holiday. Hell, if I were them, I would too. But, for us, the shift has been somewhat jarring.

In another snobbish turn, we’ve “code-worded” them. Moonwalkers. A way to speak without insulting. A way to air our frustrations discreetly. Our frustrations are valid, absolutely, after all we’ve endured. All this time.

But their excitement is valid, too. I hear it now. Laughter. Love. Exhaustion. Connection. It drowns out our solace. Ruins our rhythm. Like someone looking for a burger to quell their basic hunger, despite a closing clerk’s hours.

I may continue to make remarks. And be somewhat jaded to the newness of it all. But we should all live our lives to the absolute fullest. Even those with limited time. Even those who haven’t walked 700km.

They are pilgrims too.

Patience and inclusiveness are everything.

On a cooler and less serious note, I slept in a capsule bed last night.

Albergue MilpΓ©s


I started this journey over a month ago — and I started it alone.

I sat in my very first albergue room in St. Jean Pied-de-Port, with quite possibly the best view I’ve ever had from a room, and — in that moment — I wanted to go home.

I don’t think I had ever felt so lonely. So overwhelmed. I was throughly questioning the decision I had made.

Why the f*** am I doing this? This is too long. Too far. I don’t think I can pull this off. This is going to be a really short journal. Why did I build this up to everyone I know? On social media? What was I thinking?

Today is Day 32 of 33. I’m heading to O Pedrouzo. Tomorrow, I go to Santiago.

Pinch me.

Looking back, my greatest struggles have been finding comfort in a special brand of loneliness, dealing with discomfort, and managing my expectations of others.

Will I see someone I know today? Will I know people in my dorm tonight? Will I be walking with someone today? Do they even want to walk with me? Will I be entering Santiago alone? Will I be sharing this gargantuan moment with others? What is more meaningful? What is The Way?

I started this journey over a month ago — and I started it alone.

I’m going to finish it alone.

The many extraordinary pilgrims I’ve met on this month-long path have propelled me farther than I ever thought I could go. But it was me who kept putting one foot in front of the other. It was me who opened up my heart, and my journey, to strangers. In the end, this adventure has been my own.

Last night, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Still with questions. More expectations. I feel like expectations are unavoidable when you’re this close to the finish line. But there’s only so much one can control, and expectations (usually) lead to disappointment.

It’s time to let go a little. I have to.

I don’t know what I’m going to experience in the next two days. Or who I’m going to experience it with. And it’s okay.

I will let my journey unfold organically.

The Camino provides.

Albergue Mirador de Pedrouzo


It’s 4:30AM. It’s hot. My fellow pilgrims decided to close the windows at some point in the evening. I can’t sleep. It’s my last night in a dorm and I couldn’t be happier about it.

I have to be up in about 30 minutes anyway, so I’m not stressing too much. Though I’ve been awake for quite a while now. It’s a big day and I’m naturally feeling a bit anxious.

Today, I walk to Santiago. The destination. The end. The culmination of 33 days. After walking for miles on end, day after day. Week after week.

This is it.

Myself and some of us 29ers — the remaining Camino Crew — are meeting at 5:30AM to get an early head start. At dinner last night, we decided it’d be nice to enter Santiago together. Individual journeys shared. An organic decision without expectation. It feels right after all this time.

… … …

Time has passed… and we’re walking now… 10km left… looking for breakfast… for coffee…

With every step, memories come flooding back of the many moments I’ve had since the beginning of this whole thing. So many emotions. So many people. Today is a day for endless reflection. To look back and see how far I’ve come… mentally, emotionally, and (of course) physically. To reminisce before crossing the finish line. Like flashbacks in a finale.

There’s been much talk — seemingly-insurmountable expectations — about what we’ll feel when we reach The Cathedral. I couldn’t tell you. Again, no expectations, for they destroy moments as well.

Just keep walking.

One step at a time.


5km left.

One more journal entry left.

Before we click our heels.

But, for now, the Emerald City awaits.

And we’re off to see the wizard.

Hotel Rua Villar


This morning marks my fourth day in Santiago. The 29ers (and our beloved 28ers) made it. We completed our pilgrimage on El Camino de Santiago. Entering the Cathedral square proudly. Accomplished. Finished. Receiving our Compostelas. Our hearts couldn’t be more full.

But even though our pilgrimage ended… even though we hung up our trail runners and set down our heavy packs… our journey was far from over.

The subsequent three days have been an extended series of momentous reunions, sublime celebrations, and heart-wrenching goodbyes. I’m pretty sure I’m all cried out.

The unknown has inevitably revealed itself: No matter the challenges, the fears, the mountains to climb, and the great distances to face… despite the beauty of the world and all the sights, smells and sounds this wondrous planet has to offer…

It is PEOPLE that make ALL the difference.

Yes, this journey has been my own. Each and every one of us had our own Camino… learned our own lessons… evolved into better versions of ourselves. But there has been so much love shared between so many magical and magnificent people… connections forged for life…

We cannot deny the impact we’ve had on each other throughout this adventure.

This final entry is about them. The greatest reward. The most fabulous revelations. The hardest goodbyes. A forever family. My heart grows heavy as everyone continues to go their separate ways. To their own corners of the world.

We will see each other again.

The Camino provides. It will always provide with these magical people now in my life.

Pilgrims forever.

Travel is amaaaaaaazing. But there’s something wildly special about immersing yourself in a travel experience with people from all over the world. And so many exist. Step out of your box. Leave your comfort zone as soon as possible. Find your next adventure. Go.

THIS is what life is all about.

But there are some things that these special adventures can’t ever compare to. Family. Home.

It’s time.