Gear & Travel

Yesterday I responded to an interesting question on the premier Camino Forum run by Ivar out of Santiago 🇪🇸

I’ve had a few questions after my initial response and said I’d post some additional details here. Happy to 👍:-

Hieudovan wrote :-

I was fortunately enough to be able to buy a very cheap ticket through an Iberia Airlines sale. LAX – Madrid RT with direct and non-stop flights in both directions for only $310. As the ticket is so cheap, there’s no allowance for check-in luggage. If I were to check in my backpack, the cost would be $120 if bought online ahead of time. Instead paying to check-in my current backpack, I plan to buy a new backpack that can qualify as a carry-on. If you have or know of a backpack that fits my needs (carry-on size that can be used on a Camino), I would love to hear from you. Buen camino. /Hieu


My reply :- with pics this time 😁

Hey everyone!

I’m a bit late to this thread but I’ve just got back from the Camino Inglés – I had to consider exactly the same “Carry On Conundrum” – so here is my solution :- even though my flight was from Manchester to O Corunna – I was taking five short hop and cross border flights as meeting Camino Pals.

That’s Ryan Air 1 , Iberia 3 , Austrian 1 – ( £315 – Yeah Kiwi.Com ! ) .

One of these connections was a narrow 40 minute transfer time – so absolutely no time for the baggage carousel tango. X

These airlines have the same measurement for hand baggage 55 cm x 40 cm x 20 cm.All have a limit of 10 kg except for Austrian with a very tight 8 kg.

My Lightest frame pack is an Osprey Talon 44 L at 900 grams

On its own with all its lumps , bumps , straps and harnesses it gets challenged as hand luggage and frequently catches on the hand luggage measurement cages. Plus from an airport operative point of view – it looks large.

So this trip I put my loaded pack into an ultra-light hold-all from “Roamlight” – Cabin baggage specialists –“guaranteed to fit” they claim. It did.

Actually looks smaller – less conspicuous.

Robust – which is important to hold a bumpy pack to the correct carry-on shape. Precisely 55 cm x 40 cm x 20 cm . ( U.S. 21.5 x 16x 8 inches )

An extra 400 g ( I know 😕 ) but worth it. I’m only at 1300 g for bag and a backpack together, that’s lighter than some packs on their own and I haven’t had to compromise on the long walk , eight hours a day, Multi day properties of the backpack – which you so often have to do with the cabin baggage style backpack specialities.

( BTW – I have the Osprey Farpoint 40 which is a great self-contained carry on / backpack alternative here . It’s very good but it’s Multi Day trek capabilities are as yet untested by me . I have a feeling it’s a compromise- but I hope to be happily surprised in the future )

Result – (see pics below ) – easy transfers – no questions- it turns a Loaded Talon 44 that looks LARGE into a protected non-descript black carry-on that actually has a label stating the measurements with an airplane “carry on” luggage logo . THAT LOOKS SMALL .

Turns this :-

Into this :-

To be honest – I was a little pushed by 2cm on the 20 cm width but it was okay after I sat on it for awhile at the airport in the queue to check-in 😆. Elegant.

So you put your bag – in a bag? – Is that what you’re saying? – Yep – I suppose it’s the same principle where you put your backpack into a custom cover before you commit it to hold luggage . But this time it’s a corset that constrains an unruly backpack into the precise three measurements you’re looking for for cheap , quick travel.

Magic 🤩

Refs and Sources below – they will be different in the U.S. .

The UK 🇬🇧 link :-

Roamlite Hand Luggage Holdall for Ryan-air and Easy-Jet Carry-On Bags – Exact Size and Shape Travel Duffle – 55 cm x40cm x20cm 40 Litre Flight Baggage – RL56K Black

Buen Camino 🙏


Four Seasons to Sigüeiro

So – what Sort of day – faces us :-

* Rain to shine ? ~ Surely

* Dark to light ? ~ Certainly

* Aches and pains ? – Sometimes

* Opera education started ? – gradually

* Diplodocus to Horse ? – Evidently (😁read on)

It was a long 24k / up and down track day with hours to talk , Sohail called from Doobs UAE 🇦🇪 – great catch up , couple of good cafes , it was a Sunday so the villages came alive with Church and post church drink and high volume activity (Café Bar “Godsip” ) .

Past an amateur farmyard “Guggenheim”

And careful what you see in the dark – especially if the local farmer has a spare tree , some time in his hands and new chainsaw .

Much prefer the real thing as we find the Stallion called “Spirit” once again .

To our first re-fueling stop – where we form our own Sunday , High Volume Troup 😆 , 80% German / 20% English – I’m beginning to understand the nuances and meanings better – even if the language evades me 🤔 . I appreciate the girls patience and courtesy this way .

☀️Aber -was ist das? Sonnenschein? ☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️☀️✅

Yes it surely is !! – a rare moment 😆

You can judge for yourself the limited Photo – Ops – when this laconic – slightly confused – dog receives the royal 👑 attention from Meinen Damen 🤣🤣🤣

Past this arresting Church from 1737 with the patron being a man with a large blade halfway through his neck and a Quill pen in his hand . Must look it up when I have WiFi .

A good Sunday stop follows – busy on the Sabbath – maybe the menfolk use it as an excuse on a Sunday – … “Yes I am Sooo religious – I spent all day at the Sign of the Cross ! ” . Maybe this is why so many bars are called “O Crucerio ” ?

Good Photo Op’ with the piled high backpacks 🎒 – gets a little out of hand as AnTonia composes today’s team photo 🤣

Here is AnTonia – the – Camino Direktor der Fotografie – herself – and very creative at it too 😆👏 . Not surprising really as she lives and works in Berlin at one of the Opera houses – The Komische Oper Berlin , a fascinating job that she absolutely loves – and takes her all round the world 🌍

Rarely do I meet someone so enthusiastic , cultural and knowledgeable about their vocation.

Travel Slowly and you may learn things – I did – and I’ll be going to visit this Oper Huis . Anything that mixes a 1960’s rebuild of the WW2 bomb damaged facade ( the fabulous 1880’s classical interior was largely untouched ) . To look like this – ; with reviews like this ……. ✅

And put on shows of Opera , Operetta and Musical …..

…….. in surroundings like this – ……. is automatically on my “Must visit” list .


😅 Achtung! – Tsunami 🌊 – The Galician weather reminds us – never to keep your “Oh So Fashionable” Rain Poncho too far away . …. Does my Bum look big in this ? 🤣

From Yin ☔️ to Yang 🌞 – this blog becomes a – Wetterbericht – a Weather report . Still it’s why this place is so green.

…….. but it gives a chance for more interaction- Lovely informal pics from AnTonia .

Until we reach our end point for the day – The Alberque Caminõ Real de Siguerio . A very good alberque , very well organised where I have an enjoyable catch up with someone who I’ve crossed paths with several times today – doing that typical Pelegrína thing – walking in Flats and carrying boots . 😮 👣👣 – Nevina aka #NomadNev . Originally from Belgrade Serbia 🇷🇸 – but really a World Citizen – Masters Degree , multi lingual – now heading off to teach English in Bolzano Italy 🇮🇹 for a year . Takes it all in her stride . Credit ✅

Early night – keeping Alberque hostel hours so lights out at 10.00 pm – 😎

Early start tomorrow


🎶 Singing in the Rain 🎶

I once saw a description of Galicia . The first question was – where!? . The second was – what?

Well simply put – Think of green Spain and you’re halfway there. As to its location think of Portugal and up or Cornwall and head down.

Either way the The climate is going to be wet and add to this the influence of the Atlantic and you have days like today.

My goodness did it rain ☔️. As I write this my clothes under my supposedly waterproof poncho are drying in the hotel dryer. And my credencialé looks like I’ve spilt beer over it.

To begin :-

A reasonable Galician morning – as I leave Betanzos. The Hotel Garelos was dragged up to an 8.0 by really good staff and a brilliant inc’ breakfast. Otherwise €20 overpriced – I’ll stick with Alberques I think 🤔.

I’m sure what you have come across obstacles in life that you found challenging – but didn’t seem to have a challenging reputation or a suitable name that Sustained a fearsome legend .The never-ending 45° hill that leaves Betanzos as part of the Camino is one such place .

It should be called things like Montanã del pie del Diablo , or Hill of the Pilgrims Suffering – something with a hint of gritty realism in it .

But no it’s called Rua Garcia -The Spanish equivalent of Smith Street – effectively a street with no name. And that means there is no justice to the 40 mins constant climb out of the valley of the Rio Mandeo. 🙁

It ends by this 60 K market on top of the high plain and the views start to open out under threatening skies.

We start to enter a series of small villages and farmlands in the sub region of Cos –

Where the main past times are religion, centuries old granary stores.

And Agricultural scenes you could’ve seen any time in the last 500 years – this really is a land that Time forgot – so different from the Camino Francés Or Portugués: –it’s a idyllic in an almost mediaeval context.

The valleys are deep now – the not so ancient village washing areas – “many actually rebuilt and used in the 1950s and 60s – deserted as they have been for the last 30 years .

The roadside bars (That look like green industrial units to the casual passers-by) – with noise of coffee cups and glssses clinking , steam hissing and food being served to solely locals only serve to enforce the sense of indifferent isolation from the modern world.

It’s not unexpected to find stretches of the Camino like this – and this is soon relieved by a very welcome – for some reason the medieval themed bar on the outskirts of Presedo

I had met a group of German girls further the road also looking for coffee after the constant bad weather – we all sheltered in this bar together for half an hour .

It had been lightly drizzling constantly for two hours now – As they left I was not going to be fooled by the rainbow outside bar – So went back inside.

To see my friend John turn up nursing a kitten his wife Beverly had rescued further up the road – apparently something she does a lot of at home. Video call to the family back home at that moment – my daughters Annabel and Jessica were charmed By the pitiful meowing over 2000 miles. ‘Aint technology grand!?

30 minutes later I come across the band of sisters and as so often happens On Camino we walk and talk together for the next three hours in what is now torrential rain – and find so much in common and so much to talk about that the time just flashes by.

Waterproof clothing fashion done with style ✅

If possible it gets even wetter so even the photographs are steamed up and damp.

3:30 pm we arrive at our nighttime stops – some of us have been walking since 6:30 am so it’s damp and tired.

Some are here at the “Crossroads Motel “– 😆- in Meson do Vento – an Oasis of concrete . I’m staying below across the way in the “Bates Motel” – actually very nice people in such an unprepossessing place.

And The rest of the group took a chance Of not being able to book ahead – and maybe not having a room , But it all paid off and they are now staying in the rather more impressive Albergue de Peregrinos de Hospital de Bruma – It’s right on the Camino and a quarter of the price that the motels charge. Looks nice – happy for them 🤣🤔

Some light blister surgery on the feet of the young man you see below from the oversized surgical kit I carry with me. There are photographs of this taken by Antonia – but I will spare you these 😱

Followed by good dinner from the menu del Dia – with some slightly dodgy wine – (Oh and don’t touch the noodle soup) –more than makes up for it as I spend a fun and noisy evening with AnTonia and Joschka .

This could’ve been a day where nothing happened and it simply rained as I trudged along rainy path’s – but as you can see there’s always a story you can tell on the Camino.


Autumn follows

Mists and Fruit – such an Autumn theme and everywhere today .

Leaving Campolongo as the early workers share my – start early / finish early routine.

The hardworking couple who run O Crucerio have really looked after me , the lights from their bar illuminate the path. They have even planned for guests re-joining the Camino in the dark – a 3k detour ,so they painted dozens of their own Camino arrows on the road all the way !

Any help with direction is welcome as I rejoin the Camino itself – seeing my first marker post of the day is a relief after strange roads and narrow woodland paths .

Thankfully I packed a head torch otherwise navigation would not have been possible this morning ,

The fog created crystals in the air , perfect multi-sided shapes that reflected off my torch beam – a really unusual floating sensation – in the pre-dawn silence . Exactly the type of experience I value when traveling in unusual situations .

No more so than seeing fellow pelegrinos start to follow me with greetings of “Buen Camino” . Simple steps taking on an importance of their own when seen in this dawn back-light .

Sunlight didn’t reach the day until mid-morning today as mists persist – but it’s warm too – so comfortable for a long hike .

A chance encounter with a fellow traveller gives me one of those fascinating insights into the type of people who walk these ways . Meet Galia – from Russia – but not just any part – she’s from a part of that vast country that’s closer to Japan or Alaska. Her city is Magadan near Kamchatka. But nothing is near really this small part of her country is larger than France .

A fascinating conversation- with a lot of Google translate 😆 – Galia positions her city with the chilling line – ” you remember books by Alexander Solzhenitsyn? , about the Gulags ?” – ” Well Magadan is capital of Gulags” .

Amazing to meet such people – and another Camino Moment .

Her attitude to work and life there is engaging – but so is her attitude to any potential food growing near the road . On this one day we ate Oranges (bitter) , Grapes 🍇 (reasonable ) and Walnuts ( perfect ) . As we crushed over rotting fruit and sweet chestnuts , passing old fountains and village community clothes washing pools .

The colours of autumn in the tiny hamlets really bring home the end of summer in this green and fertile corner of Spain.

We were surprised by this free roaming friend who came to see what we were doing ……….

And stood intensely staring as we left – the one horse in a one horse town .

– all this without sun , muffled by mists and the lack of any signs of life as I pass though this chain of distant hamlets .

Creativity of a different type brings the 21st century crashing back . I rather think this is a good use of the vast concrete canvas created by an EU road reconstruction program.

As we visit this church dedicated to the Camino and the road slopes steeply into Betanzos

Crossing the bridge – amazed that the journey passed so quickly – well it does when you have good company and fascination conversation . Turns out Galia’s a mining engineer in a Gold mine 300k from Magadan – a monthly commute and frontier stuff !

I meet up with two friends of Galia’s – John and Beverly from Seattle and head to a well earned Cervesa as we explore the Betanzos Alberque for the nights stay – very nice it is too compared to some . ( The one in Pontedeumé was not so good 😊)

An afternoon ahead to recover and explore . All meeting up for dinner tonight – so until tomorrow………..


Narōn to Pontedeumé

Getting into the swing of things now – up at 6 am – apply “moleskin” a padding to tender areas of feet – amazing stuff – Not tried it before – but it really stands the test and sticks like the “proverbial” to a blanket 😜 even with the hottest boots and the constant friction of 35,000 steps today.

Quiet at this time of day .

Breakfast on the road – great cafés open from 7.00am – Kickstarter + Coffee and meat filled pastries in a combined Café and Carnicero

It feels good getting the miles under your belt this early – the weather going to be hot today – aiming to finish walking before 2.00pm .

It has its own rewards as the last of the dark shows the Ria in reflection

It’s changing fast ……. there’s only 10 seconds between these two photos on the exact same spot –

“Rustic” can be over-used as a catch all description : NOT HERE 😆

Vistas start to open up as I move along the Estuary – and start a steep climb on dirt tracks through the forest – past a familiar fence of crosses woven by the Pelegrínōs.

The gardens on the descent – full of fruit – huge lemons – over ripe oranges – squished apples all over the road – it happens when you have such fertile climates.

Through an interesting village – just how to address your post without giggling if you lived here ?? 😆

But before imaginations run wild I found the “New House ” – so no passion palace after all –

Down through Cabanas – over a vibrant harbour .

And this impressive bridge – the “Ponte” in Pontedeumé .

And through narrow streets that follow the Camino past restaurants on shady squares , packed pavement cafés and historic buildings

Distracted by lunch and sightseeing it’s very hot now – said it would be 27c feels like 32c .

I’m headed for this place O Crucerio 3k Up the hill – in Campolongo .

A good place to start a 25k day tomorrow.


Day 2 – Ferrol to Xubia

I intended to have a shorter first day – 18 K to break my feet in

Dark at the start with a cool Atlantic maritime dawn . Café con leché to start – near to the Hostal .

with a nice surprise – the walking sticks I sent via Amazon to the Hostal as I couldn’t take them on the plane – were found behind reception – a good start !

– and the weather followed…..

Perfect walking weather for the longer of the 2 routes – if you wish to earn your Compostela- you need this route – the other from Corunña is too short .

Unless that is you start your walk / your pilgrimage in England ! – Yes that’s a thing – it always was on this route – from 13th Century- after all it’s the “English” way – seems typical it’s the shortest Camino 🤣 .

As long as you organise to have your Credencial del Pelegrino – the all important passport stamped in England – ( Durham , or Reading or Walsingham to Canterbury , Southampton, Plymouth etc ) the Pilgrims office will add those miles to your kilometres here. 👍 Neat .👍

A little sunlight on the way along the coast out of Ferrol ….. intersection of ancient and modern as it has quiet beaches and Abbé alongside a vast Spanish Naval Base.

Cool conditions before the day heats up .

Passing parks and sculpture….

…. and a simple Monastery and öffentlicher raum to the patron saint of conceptual & 3D video mapping artists – San Martin .

…. the way divides – it’s getting hotter so I stay on track – too early for sightseeing 👀

….. happy a did as the left hand route takes me past grazing goats and …

…… shoreline scenery as the Ria Ferrol gets narrower .

Vibrant walls , yellow arrowhead markers and ( credit to the Galicians ) every ancient water pump – dozens of them – work perfectly and is safe to drink .

I locate my target marker for today – the 100k stone all too soon –

I’ve enjoyed the walk so much I’m here in under 4 hours – It’s tempting to push in for a 30k day but stopping is sensible and gives me chance to explore Fené and Narōn .

Oh and an ice cold Cervesa and Tortilla !

Never one to pass up a decent Hostal – the welcoming bizarrely named Hotel Kensington – the owner’s an Anglophile 🤣 offers my favourite taste of Spain 🇪🇸- the Menu del Dia . Anti pasta , Fresh Maraxchia ( shark family ) and sweet rice – €9 ! – inc’ the carafe of wine you see on the table – ( always decent too )

A satisfied, completion to the day as it ends in the bar uncomprehendingly watching Real Madrid struggle against Paris St Germain – . It doesn’t matter who wins the locals explain to me as half the French side are Spanish anyway.😜

I like this attitude.


Dawn over Bolton 🇫🇴- Dusk over Galicia 🇪🇸

Travel day to the Camino Inglés – 🚞 & ✈️ & 🚕

A long day of connections ….. from

To …….

With a transfer at Madrid Barajás

And a short Hop on an internal flight to O Corunña

Ends in a traditional Spanish pavement cafe and a long awaited Cervesa Grandé of Estrella Galicia 😘

And welcome Pintxos with Rationés to follow ….. top rambling fuel ⛽️ ….. 😘

With a welcome room upgrade at €19 all in as my roof top bunk has the windows screwed shut in 28 c heat – Good Swop !

Early night as on the trail at sun-up tomorrow…… 🚶‍♀️