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.

Morning

Getting up

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.

Tom packing up to go in an albergue

Walking through town before sunrise

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.

Roz's foot with a custom blister  bandage made of a plaster with sports tape to hold it on

Breakfast

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.

Tea, coffee and pastries for breakfast at a cafe in Italy

Tom with a map and a coffee, planning the day's route

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.

The walk

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.

Route markers for a walking trail in Germany

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.

Sign warning of hazards on a walking path

Pilgrim trails

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.

Stops

There was a fine balance between wanting to make progress and resting enough. We tended to take 3 breaks a day, including lunch.

Loo breaks

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

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.

Roz poking her head out of our tent at a campsite

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

Bedbug management

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:

The backrest of Tom's rucksack which should be straight but is now curved into an s-bend

And how Roz’s second rucksack met a sticky end:

Roz's rucksack, having melted a bit in a 40 degree wash

Washing clothes

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.

Tom hanging up the washing outside our tent

If we were really lucky, the town we were in had a self-service laundrette. Tom really geeked out about them.

Other rituals

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.

Our legs propped up against the wall after a day of walking

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.

Typing up a blog post on Roz's mobile

Phew!