The Camino de Santiago can be a transformative experience that continues long after one reaches Santiago. Case in point: Ryan Goodman, a student at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. He walked the Camino with a few classmates...and after reaching Santiago, he continued his journey in a very interesting way. Click here to read more.
Day 1 included a 14 mile hike on varied terrain. We started by navigating the unflattering city sprawl of Ponferrada and then were treated to spectacular scenery of Bierzo vineyards and foothills on easy to navigate dirt farm roads...with an occasional stint alongside a heavier traveled highway.
For most of the day the weather was sunny and beautiful- perhaps 55-60 degrees F...except for a light and thankfully short hail storm!
Sophie started the AM in a cranky mood and cried for a while before taking a long nap through most if the vineyards!
We pulled into Villafranca around 3pm, having hiked for 6.5 hours. We are staying at a cozy little inn called Hostal La Puerta del Perdon- they love Sophie!
We enjoyed a 6 mile practice walk with my wife and toddler this weekend. The little one loves her "Camino Chariot" but also walked quite a bit. We are gearing up for our 130 mile charity trek to benefit orphaned children through Trekking for Kids. Click here to help.
Bed bugs have found their way to nearly all corners of the earth, including the cleanest and most expensive five star hotels. It should be no surprise then that the little critters have been spotted on the Camino de Santiago, where thousands of pilgrims sleep in close proximity communal dormitories each day. Though recent years have witnessed relatively few bed bug incidents (thanks in part to a concerted effort among albergue wardens and hoteliers), many pilgrims remain concerned. With this in mind, we’ve compiled two easy tips to help pilgrims avoid bed bugs while on the Camino.
Tip 1- Always inspect your sleeping area– the best preventative measure is to inspect the area in and around one’s bed before unpacking. Remember, bed bugs are active at night- they hide during the daytime. The places most often inhabited by bed bugs include: the creases of the mattress, crevices within the bed frame and headboard, cracks within the floor, and behind pictures or other wall hangings. Look for tiny black spots (excrement) which are smaller than poppy seeds, rusty or redish stains on bed linen, translucent light brown skins (bugs shed their skins), or live bugs (bed bugs are oval, brown and flat- they can be ¼” to about 3/8” long).
Tip 2- Pre-treat your gear and outerwear with a bed bug repellent- Permethrin is by far the most popular bed bug repellent (google it to find out more). Permethrin can be used to pre-treat sleeping bags/liners, back packs, fitted sheets, and clothing. It is safe and pre-treatment can withstand many launderings.
There are other precautions one can take to avoid bed bugs, with varying degrees of effectiveness and practicality in our view. These include storing one’s gear away from sleeping areas (not always possible), spraying one’s bed with insect repellent (which could be irritating to others and may not have an effect on the bed bugs anyway) and purchasing a so called “bed bug proof” sleeping sack (which is typically made of a heavier more tightly woven fabric and still offers no guarantee the bugs will not crawl through the opening at the top).
Have a suggestion on how to avoid bed bugs? Have an experience to share? Please leave a comment.
The Pilgrim Office in Santiago recently released the final statistics for 2012. A total of 192,488 pilgrims made their way to Santiago last year, up from 188,366 in 2011. Meanwhile, pilgrims from the United States totaled a record 7,071 in 2012- a figure almost double the 2011 number of 3,726. Prior to 2012, the number of US pilgrims had been climbing steadily and was approaching 4,000. Many believe the movie “The Way” (released in late 2011 and starring Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen) played a key role in driving awareness of the Camino among Americans and may have inspired the spike in 2012.
Other Camino statistics were broadly in line with those from recent years. Overall in 2012, 57% of pilgrims were men while 47% were women. Nearly 86% traveled on foot with 14% on bicycle. The Camino Frances remains the most popular route accounting for more than 70% of all pilgrims while Sarria (popular for pilgrims who walk the last 100km only) and St. Jean Pied de Port (for those who walk the entire route) continue to be the most popular starting points.