Simon Benson & Alison Edwards
Walking in Spain
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I know some of our friends wonder why we return to Spain, why we like walking and especially why we are repeating the Camino. I don't know all the answers but I can certainly say it is completely different this time to last and I really like the feeling of just being in the present and not planning or thinking too much.

Doing something for a second times sometimes leads to disappointment when things have changed but it also allows you to skip the bad bits, and get it right from the start. We started walking with friends from Melbourne and took the first few days easy. This meant that crossing the Pyrenees, traditionally a long hard day. was far less of a slog when broken into two stages, and we had superb weather. Just one week later, the whole region is again snowed in and anyone walking needs to take the lower, along the road route. We had views to distant snow topped montains, sunshine and all the signs of spring. We left them enjoying Pamplona having conquered hostel finding, waymarking and knowing they were plenty fit enough to enjoy it. It was interesting seeing them reflect all the things we were a bit uncertain about our first time. Buon Camino F & R.

Simon re read his old journal and by this stage of the camino the first time, we were still annoyed by early starters, walking later and arriving when hostels were full, and our feet were sore and blistered.

This time we have stayed at different places, spent time at towns we walked through last time, and arived early enough to socialise and relax every day. Our feet are fine and I am less pack weary. I have still brought too many things but I have actually used just about everything. Most of the time, we have had fine weather with cold frosty mornings but sunny afternoons. We have seen some sunburnt peregrinos but the cold wind of the past few days means very little of me has been exposed. I don't know if we will walk the whole way, I am content to just take it as it comes but at the moment I am enjoying the way my whole body feels fitter, and the international communication of mangled attempts at other languages and sign language and of course, Simon's quite competent Spanish. It really is a very sociable experience and we keep re meeting and overtaking and being left behind by new friends. I don't always remember their names but usually get the nationality right. There have been many more Australians walking this time.

Overall, Spain appears more settled and properous than 6 years ago - no tent cities or protests, new houses and signs of renovations of old places, and many more places to stay or buy supplies etc. We are approaching our second weekend and have avoided being surprised by eveething closing at lunchtime on Saturday and not re opening until Monday morning but even that is less absolute than it was. I do like the Spanish way of life - busy in the morning, quiet and dead during siesta but it all comes to life again after 4 pm. Families and crowds of little children on scooters give way to older kids kicking balls or playing games and then families eating or walking or enjoying an ice cream. I think spring here is a lovely time to visit - green fields of wheat or barley or canola, red poppies and lots of other wildflowers, the odd stork nesting and the vineyards are just starting to sprout new leaves. The locals are complaining it is too dry - we think it is extremely green! Long daylight hours are a bonus.

Simon's_Journal