Crossroads and expanding horizons

I’ve arrived at the first crossroads in the planning phase for my big walk.  Making the decision to walk was easy.  Getting the first lot of hiking gear I needed was easy.  Booking my flights part way was easy.  Deciding to only do half the walk was a little tougher but still, not that tough.  I was worried about how my body would cope with all the walking after flying half way round the world and then getting to Burgos (my starting place), but not that worried.  Then last night I wrote down an itinerary so I could have a more visual perspective of my time away – it was rather eye opening, kinda scary and went a little something like this:

May 31st, arrive Paris 09:00
June 2nd, catch overnight train to Burgos at 19:00
June 3rd, arrive Burgos 05:40 and start walking…
June 25th, last day possible to finish walking to Santiago de Compostela
26th-27th get back to Paris somehow
June 28th, leave Paris for home

How incredibly hectic! I’ve given myself practically a month all up but what happened to the time I thought I had factored in for recovering from jet-lag?  Or for catching up with my family in Paris?  And what about those friends living over there whom I haven’t seen for several years?  Or even for generally enjoying myself and exploring as one should when visiting a foreign country!

It was a bit of a rude awakening, have I bitten off more than I can chew?  I can be kinda impulsive at times and I think deciding and organising an overseas trip for two months away in the space of a week is a little impulsive but is it too much this time?  I had to think it through a bit more, what would I do if I had more spare time?  Would it matter to me if I don’t do 460km from Burgos but start at Leon instead and make it 260km?  So on reflection my options could be:

  1. Whirl through Paris and dive straight into 460km of hiking on a strict time limit before hurtling back across the country to Paris for a day and then back home – possibly destroying myself in the process
  2. Spend a few days recovering from jet-lag, exploring Paris by myself and catching up with family then catch the train to Burgos, spend a day or a few hours exploring Burgos (which apparently is very nice and has a spectacular cathedral) then train again to Leon where I spend some time exploring before setting out on the remaining 260km of trail to Santiago de Compostela with a more relaxed time frame, having a whole day or two to absorb the rich history of SdC before heading back to Paris via Barcelona or Madrid for a day or so and then back to Paris and home via London where I could do some catching up with people I haven’t seen in a while.
  3. A plan I have not come up with yet…

Call me crazy but the second option is really growing on me.  You only need to do the last 150km of the trail to be eligible for the completion certificate which guarantees you a place in heaven (phew, I was getting a bit worried there – religion is no longer a part of my life but I would like to keep my options for the afterlife open!) but I can’t help feeling a bit guilty about cutting down my distance.  There have been many times in the past that I have had to change my plans because my body couldn’t cope due to chronic fatigue or injury but this time it is a little different.  This trip is about me, about discovering more about myself, my capabilities and hidden depths but who says I can’t enjoy myself doing it?!  I think if I had more time to plan, if I hadn’t just rushed headlong into it I would be able to do more and I am certain that I will someday.  For now however, for my body, for me – it is enough.

Yes I guess I do have a sensible voice in my head somewhere after all, although some would argue that 260km is still not so sensible.  Now i just have to justify it to the other voice that is telling me that changing plans is almost as bad as giving up.  I know it’s not, not really, but I can’t help feeling a little guilty about it.  I’m pretty sure that when I’m by myself in that horrible sideways elevator up the Eiffel tower (man that thing makes my stomach twist!), perusing the Louvre, catching up with the hunchback in Notre Dame, dreaming along the promenade on the banks of the Seine, visiting the night markets in Barcelona, wandering through Harrods and Hyde park, picking up a treasure in Portobello road, or enjoying some regional food and wine in a quaint little cafe in a building that’s been there for centuries in a village somewhere in Spain in the afternoon sunlight after walking for days with complaining knees, blistered and aching feet and several more days of walking ahead of me I wont feel so bad 🙂


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