Sunday, May 3, 2009

Meetings, training, paperwork etc

Preparations: There is a lot to do in preparing for a long trek (or a series of short ones!) When you live on the other side of the globe you have to make meticulous plans in order for everything to go smoothly. Only then can you walk with peace of mind knowing that the groundwork has been done, that you will make that connection between airport and train and there are no uncertainties about planes, trains or sutomobolies! Once you have decided on an itinerary of sorts - start and end dates agreed upon - all the travel plans have to be made.

We've now had two meetings - the first at Val's place and the second a lunch meeting here last week. I did a vegetable stack for lunch with scallop shell polenta and served it with assorted pestos.
We started off deciding on which airline to fly, where to fly to, how to get to the start of our walk.
We have booked on Iberia from Johannesburg to Toulouse. We will get a train to Lourdes and start walking from there. We've discovered that the times of our flights from Johannesburg to Madrid have been changed from 22h30 to 20h30. Our connecting flights from Durban to Johannesburg will get us there with time to spare. We get to Madrid earlier and have a longer wait for our flights to Lourdes, which have not changed.
We get to Lourdes at 11h10 and we agreed not to rush to get the midday train from Toulouse to Lourdes but to rather have lunch somewhere and get the 14h00 train which is a faster train and gets to Lourdes only 1 hour after the midday train. Making this decision now means that we don't have to bust a gut trying to get from the airport at Toulouse to the train station in an hour.
We have booked a hotel room for the first night, only 15 euro each at Hotel San Etienne, so it won't break the bank!
We've agreed to get a bus from Puente la Reina to Pamplona rather than walk there as this gives us a few extra hours in both towns. We've booked a room at the Hotel Maisonwave in Pamplona (78 euro for the room) and will have a slap up dinner - courtesy of Val who leaves us there to return home, via Barcelona, the next day.
Marion and I leave for Lugo on the 20 June. When I first checked the train times from Pamplona to Lugo, they left at 12h36. Between now and the 13th June they leave at 13h07. We'll have to check the departure times again before we leave Pamplona on 20th June.
Because Marion and I will arrive in Lugo around 10pm, I have booked us in the hotel closest to the railway station, Hotel Muralla. There is only one bus in the afternoon to Ferrol so we'll get an early morning bus to A Coruna and from there a bus to Ferrol. We've decided to start walking to Neda in the afternoon which will leave us with a short walk to Pontedeume the next day.
I have booked us into the Hostal Paza de Agra (where I've stayed twice before) in Santiago, 40 euro for a double room. Marion leaves me the next day and I start walking to Finisterre. Because I plan on leaving after the midday mass, I decided to book into the hotel Tamara in Negreira which has a special rate of 25 euro for pilgrims. The albergue only has 20 beds and its bound to be full by 6pm.
I am planning on taking 4 days to Finisterre and back to Corcubion, arriving there on 30th June.
We have done walks that we did earlier in the year and have found that we are flying up the hills and are coping with long distances. We are still walking on the beachfront twice a week - two new wanna-be camino pilgrims, Phyllis and Eugenie have joined us - we walk with Highway AC on Saturday mornings and doing a long walk ± 20kms on a Sunday. We'll have a weekend away in the 'Berg on the 15/16th May to do some proper hiking in the mountains. Our backpacks are comfortable and mine has remained constant at just under 5kg.
We checked through our e-tickets, insurance, hotel booking confirmations etc. I have sent my tickets, passport etc to the Spanish Embassy with the application for a Schengen Visa. We have all got our FOREX in cash and cards.
I have downloaded strip maps for the route from Lourdes to Somport and profile maps from Somport to Puente la Reina and will photocopy relevant pages from the CSJ & Miam Miam Dodo Arles guide. The three of us will share carrying the maps and guide pages. I've also downloaded guide books for the Ingles which Marion and I will share as well as a guide for the Fistera.
We have got 4 weeks, 3 days and counting!!


b said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog and for the encouraging words! Happy travels to you and I'll be checking back in for inspiration. Blessings - B.

Anonymous said...

I wish you all well on your way and I highly recommend having a bath in the water at Lourdes ... I walked last summer from Lourdes and then along the Camino Aragones to Finisterra ... it was a lovely way to begin my adventure.