We’ve been doing a lot of circular walks since getting to Greece. It’s been a bit of a shock to the system because we’d established a proper routine walking from a to b. Here’s what a typical walking day involved before we got to Greece.
The time we got up depended on:
- the type of accommodation we were in
- how long the next day’s walk was going to be
- the weather
If we were in a shared room in an albergue (a hostel on a pilgrim trail), we were often woken up by everyone else at around 6am so we normally got up then too.
We also got up early if:
- the walk we were doing was long
- we wanted to finish with enough time to look around our destination
- it was a really hot day
Packing and preparing
We packed up everything we had every morning. When we were camping, this sometimes involved drying the tent as much as possible before packing it up.
Early on, we had blisters too so we needed to make time to clean them and put on fresh bandages before setting off.
Breakfast was usually a pastry with coffee or tea. It was a good time to go over the route, plan stops and see what supplies we needed.
If we knew there were going to be places to eat on the way, we sometimes got breakfast a few kilometres in instead. This meant we could sit down to eat, smug in the knowledge that we’d already made progress.
Routes we planned ourselves often didn’t have food stops so making our own lunch beforehand or just bringing snacks was a must.
When we stayed in a bed and breakfast, we sometimes took supplies from the breakfast and made rolls for lunch from it. Cheeky.
Roads and footpaths
The routes we walked in France, Belgium and Germany followed both roads and footpaths. The footpaths were either set walking routes or paths we found on Galileo.
Roads were less fun but easier to plan around because the distances and routes were pretty clear on our maps. There weren’t too many extreme ups and downs but we did spend a lot of time crossing to the other side of the road to make sure we were as visible as possible to oncoming traffic.
We preferred footpaths because they often had interesting landmarks and scenic rest stops, and there was less chance of being run over. They didn’t always match our maps, though, and the terrain and elevation could vary a lot. We had to give up on a few paths in France because they became too hazardous.
We ended up doing pilgrim trails because they solved a lot of these problems. The distance and elevation of each walk were included in the guide books we brought with us, and the walk descriptions warned us about anything else we needed to know.
There was a fine balance between wanting to make progress and resting enough. We tended to take 3 breaks a day, including lunch.
We tried to make sure we drank enough water, especially on hot days. But because of all the water we were drinking, needing the loo was always a thing. Luckily as time went by, we found that all we needed was enough foliage and a total lack of shame.
After the walk
Checking in was normally pretty easy if we stayed in a hotel but other types of accommodation needed different things.
When we were camping, we tried to find the owner and get a pitch. If the site was big and empty enough and the owner was nowhere to be seen, it was usually OK to just pitch up somewhere and sort it out later.
When we stayed in apartments, we had to arrange to meet the owner. How well that went varied wildly based on:
- our ability to predict our arrival time
- finding the property
- how weird the owner was
Bedbugs can be a problem in any accommodation but particularly on walking routes that have lots of people passing through. That meant we always followed certain rituals when we got to our room.
We put our rucksacks a good distance away from the bed.
We checked mattresses for bed bugs, especially the seams and underneath. We checked bedframes too.
If we ever thought we were staying in a place with bed bugs, we took all our stuff to a laundrette and put it through a hot drying cycle. This is how the backrest of Tom’s rucksack ended up bent out of shape:
And how Roz’s second rucksack met a sticky end:
When we had to wash our clothes, we did it almost as soon as we arrived so they had time to dry.
Some Dr Bronners soap and a sink normally did the trick.
If we were really lucky, the town we were in had a self-service laundrette. Tom really geeked out about them.
Each night, we always showered and lay on the bed with our feet up against the wall. Our friend Mary taught us the last trick to help even out the circulation in our legs.
We also looked at the next day’s route and booked the next night’s accommodation.
We sometimes found time to write a blog post or two too.