Camino de Santiago Life So Far

Well, hello! Greetings from a teeny tiny village on top of a hill in Spain with a population of 400. I’m on my third beer sitting on a bench in the sun, and the fact that I have wifi right now is absolutely astonishing. How are you?

I hsve so many stories to tell but I don’t even know where to begin. If I were to try to write out everything that has happened I would be writing for at least three hours, but I only have a few minutes so this will have to be a quick update.

We have been walking three days but it honestly feels so much longer. It has been incredible, but I now understand why it is called a pilgrimage. Dude, walking can be hard. Especially when you have done little to no training, such as us. We have had some ups and downs already, but I can honestly say that the ups have far outweighed the downs, and I am still so happy that we are doing this.

Our lack of training has become abundantly clear, as 70 year old women seem to zoom past me. The first day we walked 16 miles, and the second (yesterday) 15.5, and I think we overdid it. Well, I know we did. Our plan was to start slow, but we kept meeting people that were going so much faster and farther than we were, so we kept pushing through because that was what everyone else was doing, but the end of both walks we were miserable. We had gone just slightly farther than our bodies would have preferred, and it showed. Today we woke up with extremely aching feet and sore bodies and pain in places we didn’t know we could have pain, so we said “fu*k that” and decided to go at our own pace, which is what we should have done from the beginning. And we are already happier.

Today we walked almost eight miles, and when we came to a gorgeous village on the top of hill overlooking vineyards that would make Napa Valley hang its head in shame, we decided to stop. And it is wonderful. Our albergue overlooks acres upon acres of rolling green hills, and in about one hour we are having a family style meal with the owners and other guests of our albergue.

This is so much more our style, and it’s the reason we are doing this in the first place. To slow down, enjoy, and just do what feels right. If it takes us longer than everyone else, or if we have to skip a few parts to make it to Santiago in time, so be it. It’s not a race, which is something I have had to remind myself repeatedly over the past few days.

From the Korean film crew that followed us for a bit, to meeting the head of the Norwegian Chamber of Commerce and being introduced and blessed by a group of 37, to the crazy drunk French women that always leave later than us but soar past us while singing… the stories we have already accumulated in just three days are vast. And I cant wait to tell them, but instead of spending my night typing away I’m going to turn my iPad off and go and make new memories to share.

But so far, even the parts that haven’t been so great are so small in comparison to all of the other wonderful ones. And I am just so happy to be here.

Ive been trying to update on facebook and instagram at least once a day, so feel free to follow along there.

Otherwise, hasta luego friends! I hope you are doing well!

The town I am writing to you from today, Villamayor de Monjardin,

The town I am writing to you from today, Villamayor de Monjardin.

TheresaOctober 7, 2013 - 8:48 am

This is so amazing! I love seeing your Facebook/Instagram updates, can’t wait to hear more stories! And…that wine fountain, so awesome!!

LauraOctober 7, 2013 - 9:28 am

Love the updates keep them coming!!

Julie / BoundOctober 7, 2013 - 2:51 pm

I am SO beyond excited for you, and happy that you’re doing this. Love reading/seeing your updates along the way.
P.S. Have you read WILD? I was reading it on the plane yesterday and it made me think of you. Some topical going-on-a-long-hike reading if you want to be thematic 🙂

nicole marieOctober 7, 2013 - 8:20 pm

you have no idea how strange it is that i feel so much jealousy about this. never in my life would i have ever wanted to do something like this and now you have me starting to research it! so happy for you guys and keep at your own pace. you have enough of the rat race in the real world!

Pamplona Beginnings

After a slew of delays and small cramped flights and lack of sleep, we arrived in Pamplona almost exactly 24 hours from the time we left San Francisco. We were cranky and frustrated and exhausted, but we were here! We made it! We took a three hour nap and woke up feeling like new people.

It was 10 pm when we left for dinner and it was as if the night was just beginning. People were everywhere, and we decided to grab a drink and a bite to eat at Bar Gaucho, a popular pinxtos place made famous by Hemingway.


It had just stopped raining and we were sitting outside with our drinks and food and people watching, and suddenly this burst of happiness came over me and I looked at Kevin and said that I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt this content. It was day one and there we were, sitting outside with no plans and no place to be, and it was the first time in a long time that I felt like we were dong exactly what we should be doing. I can’t remember when I last had that feeling.

I looked at Kevin said and “travel to me is like meth to Walter White. It makes me feel alive.” He laughed but agreed, because it’s true. I feel the most alive when I’m traveling.

We haven’t even been here a full day but we have already met some amazing people. At the Madrid airport a woman came up to us and inquired about our backpacks (which I’ve quickly learned are a dead giveaway of pilgrim status). We started talking and as luck would have it, she lives in Marin, which is just a stones throw away from us in San Francisco. Her name is Loretta and she walked half the camino last year and is walking the other half this year, starting from Logrono. Her stories made us both so excited for what these next few weeks have in store for us.

Later that night in Pamplona we were sitting at a bar having perhaps too much to drink and listening to an old man play Beatles covers. We were both wearing our one “evening outfit” and we had just complemented ourselves on not looking like pilgrims when a man came up to us and asked if were doing the Camino de Santiago. So much for that theory.

We started talking and the guy was awesome. He was not on the Camino but told us that it has been a longtime goal of his and that he hopes to do it next year. We ended up talking to him late into the night, having fantastic conversations about so many different parts of life. We felt like good friends after just a couple of hours. He is extremely successful and his motto is to look for not just “win-win” situations but “win-win-win” situations. He told us that his most successful companies and business relationships have all come about when he went into it with the attitude of trying to help someone else first and foremost, and in a way that they can pass on to others. So this makes it not just a win-win for him and the person he is doing business with, but also hopefully for everyone else after that. He told me that he spent many years of his life looking out for himself first, and all that resulted in was a couple of failed marriages and extreme levels of stress. Once he changed his outlook on how he approached work and business he was not only happier but far more successful.

I told him that I had just quit my job to do this trip and he declared “FANTASTIC!!!” and gave me a high five and said that my life was just beginning. And I was inspired.

On our walk back to our hotel Kevin and I joked that even though we haven’t even started walking the camino yet it was already working its magic.

We woke up early this morning, jet lagged and hungover, but still so happy to just finally be here. And maybe I’m just on a high right now because our trip is just starting and I’m with Kevin in a city I’ve never been in, and all we have to do today is eat and drink and relax, but I feel so good about what we are doing. And while I know the next weeks are not going to be all roses and butterflies, and that we are probably going to encounter more than our share of shitty days, right now, I just feel so happy and at peace.

As of now I am regretting not bringing a laptop, because I am typing this on my iPad mini and it is taking me about four times as long as it should and it is extremely frustrating. I feel like I’m not communicating as well as I would with a keyboard – typing via touch screen makes it so difficult and this post is ridden with typos and grammatical errors but it’s to hard to try and fix them. So it is what it is.

I’m also wishing I brought some makeup. All I brought was some cover up and mascara, and getting ready to go out with just those two things has been very strange. I look in the mirror and feel so plain, so boring, so not myself. But I’m sure once we start walking it will feel normal. And hey, if those are my biggest complaints, I think I am in good shape.

We start walking tomorrow morning.

Until next time!


MoOctober 4, 2013 - 9:39 am

I can’t believe you blogged- I’m so impressed! I hope the butterflies stay with you for the next 6 weeks. Lots of love xoox

TheresaOctober 4, 2013 - 10:03 am

I was so excited to see a post from you! You’re already having such an amazing time, I’m so jealous! Meeting new people is the best part about traveling. This post made me smile, someday, I WILL have an adventure like this! You and Kevin have inspired me to make it happen! Enjoy every minute.

RachelOctober 4, 2013 - 10:28 am

So glad you are there and loving it! It sounds and looks amazing – I can see why you’re feeling content. I love the story from the guy you met. So many life lessons already!

KariOctober 4, 2013 - 10:55 am

That is amazing and so wonderful! I’m so jealous your are at the same bar Hemingway sat at (I’m a huge Hemingway fan). It sounds like you guys are off to an amazing start and have already met awesome people. Cheers to you both and keep us posted:)

eileen ragan | leaner by the lakeOctober 4, 2013 - 11:06 am

Was so excited to see your photo pop up in Instagram this morning! Sounds like you’re off to an amazing already inspirational start. And you’re totally spot on about the makeup – or at least I think you are. Once you get going, it will be weird to think about putting it on anymore. Happens to me every time we go to the lake house for a week 🙂

Happy and safe travelling!

LauraOctober 4, 2013 - 11:35 am

So exciting!! I think you look lovely with just mascara! So excited to hear about your adventures. I think over time it will become a lot easier to blog from you iPad you just need to get used to it!

Timm BennettOctober 4, 2013 - 1:21 pm

I love you guys and am inspired

Nicole MarieOctober 4, 2013 - 1:39 pm

I’m so happy for you guys. I know that exact feeling of being so jetlaged and sitting in a plaza eating tapas and drinking Spanish wine and having this amazing feeling of peace ( and some fear of the unknown ahead) but just brig in awe of everything aroun me!

Can’t wait for the next update!

LindseyOctober 4, 2013 - 10:00 pm

Congrats guys! You are going to have an amazing time! Your betting website is finished if you want to share it and it’s mobile friendly.

Love you!

Accidental LondonerOctober 5, 2013 - 1:55 pm

Just came across your blog recently but will be following your Camino progress with fascination. Excited from behind my laptop screen for you! Have a wonderful trip and well done for being so brave and doing something that helps you remember what matters in life and what makes you happy.

Camino de Santiago Bound!

In a few short hours Kevin and I will be boarding the first of our three flights to Spain. It was over a year ago that we decided to maybe do this Camino de Santiago thing. And now it’s here. Crazy crazy crazy!

I got a lot of questions yesterday about how much we’re walking and where exactly we’re going to be stopping, so if you’re new here, here’s some basic info:

Kevin and I are walking the Camino Frances route of the Camino de Santiago. We are starting in Pamplona, which is about 450 miles to Santiago. To get to Santiago in time we need to average about 15 miles a day (I’ve been saying 13 miles a day based on our guidebook but I just did the math and I just realized the guidebook was wrong. GREAT!). If you want to learn about the route we are following and the towns/cities we are stopping in you can do so here.

To make this a little more fun, our friends Lindsey and Jesse have decided to turn our trip into a gambling affair, and they have put together a bet on how many miles we will actually walk. We bought FitBits to track our progress, and Lindsey has access to our logins so we can’t cheat. She’s going to put together a tumblr with updates as well. If any of you reading want to join in, just email Lindsey at and she will send over all the info.

From Lindsey:

K&S have awesomely agreed to track the total miles they are going to walk (with a FitBit or something similar) and allow all their loved ones to bet on the number of miles they actually walk 🙂 SO let’s make some money off of our friends soul searching journey! If you are interested in betting here are the details:

**Bets are $10. Email me with the total number of miles you think they will walk and your name and you can paypal me the money.
      -yes you can bet as many times as you would like – it’s $10 per bet.
      -whoever is the closest to the actual miles walked wins the pool – over or under counts
      -if there is a tie, the pool will be split between the winners
      -K&S will not know the numbers people are betting
      -20% of the proceeds will go to the Sunsar Maya so it’s a tax write off
       and we are helping little underprivileged children
       -I am working on a tumblr page so betting members can see updates and talk shit
       to each other or send words of love and support to K&S 🙂

So by now you must be asking how far is the potential route? Well they are walking from Pamplona to Santiago. Following the Camino Frances route, that is 718 km, which comes out to 446 miles over the course of about 30 days. So if they walk all stages of the camino without skipping or taking any taxis or buses, they would walk 446 miles. However, they have the option of taking cabs or buses at anytime which could shorten their walk – or hell they may get lost and add extra miles – hehe.
Only miles walked on the trail with a backpack on will count. Therefore, if they get to town, put their packs down and then walk around town to eat and drink – those miles will not be counted towards their total walked miles.


I think the pool is around $200 right now, but the more money the more fun, so if you want to send in your own bet just send Lindsey an email.

Also, Sunsar Maya is a non-profit started by our very good friend Jehan, who divides her time between living in San Francisco and working at the orphanage her non-profit supports in Nepal. She is awesome so I’m extra excited that her organization is going to get some money, even if it’s only a little.

Anyway, I’m going to try and blog as much as I can while I’m on the way, but because I am only bringing my iPad mini, I’m not sure how often that will be. However, I will most likely be checking in on social media every time I have wifi, so if you would like to follow along you can do so here on instagram or here on facebook.

Adios friends! Wish us luck!


Megan C. StroupOctober 2, 2013 - 8:14 am

I am so excited for both of you and this amazing journey you’re about to take! Now following on Instagram so I can keep up with your adventures. 🙂

BrittanyOctober 2, 2013 - 8:46 am

Have fun!! Sounds like you are going to have a great time. I cannot wait to hear all about it when you are done. Good luck 🙂

Eileen Ragan MulloyOctober 2, 2013 - 12:34 pm

safe travels to both of you! so excited to tag along on instagram! cherish every moment!

nicole marieOctober 3, 2013 - 8:42 am

safe travels!!!


Tomorrow morning Kevin and I start our three flight trek over to Spain. After 18+ hours of travel we should  be getting to Pamplona sometime Thursday afternoon. We will take a day to get our bearings and adjust, and then we’ll start walking Saturday morning.

Holy shit.

We’re as prepared as we can be at this stage, I think. Yesterday I laid out all our stuff for the next six weeks and it was shockingly bare when I saw it all laid out side by side. You’re only “supposed” to bring 10% of your body weight, which would give me less than 11 pounds to work with. And since my bag itself weighs almost 4…. well, you do the math. It means I get to bring next to nothing.  I’m basically bringing 3 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, and then an “evening” outfit which is a tunic dress thing. That’s it.

Not pictured are our sleeping bags (sprayed with permethrin to prevent bedbugs!), toiletries, walking poles, and my iPad, but everything else is laid out in that little picture. My life for the next six weeks.

Well, for the next four weeks, at least. You better believe that once we get to Santiago I’ll be running as fast as I can to the closest Zara.

Yesterday after just a couple of hours of cleaning the house and packing my feet started to hurt. Yes, my feet were aching simply from CLEANING THE HOUSE. I fear this does not bode well for my future walking.

However, part of this may have had to do with the fact that at the wedding this past weekend (which was AMAZING!!!!) I may have consumed a bit too much wine, and I started to do my little shimmy shoulder dance that I tend to do when I’m intoxicated.

Unfortunately for me, this resulted in the following:


My left ankle has been feeling a bit wonky and achy ever since.

Wearing 4+ inch heels to an outdoor wedding a mere three days before we are supposed to walk 500 miles. I’m a smart girl, let me tell you!

I also attempted to test out my walking poles this weekend (which I mentioned I have yet to use), and my friend Derek (the groom) told me I looked like Walt Jr. So uh, that’s awesome.

Anyway, I’m trying my best to not worry about all of this stuff because 1) there’s not a lot I can do about it, and 2) everyone that has done the camino keeps telling me that “the camino will provide” and to trust in that. So that’s what I’m doing.

Kevin said the more he learns about the Camino the more it sounds like some sort of psychedelic trip. There are a million Camino legends and everyone you talk to that has done it before will tell you things like “don’t plan, for if it’s meant to be part of your way, it will happen” “if you trust, the camino will provide” “the camino gives you what you don’t even know you need” “pick an intention and the camino will help it flourish!” and similar sentiments.

It’s a little more hippy dippy than I’m used to, but hey, I’m going with it! One of my hopes for this trip is that I get some clarity on what exactly it is I want to do with my life. I’ve managed to get really good at figuring out what I don’t want to do, but I’m still not so sure what I do want to do with this life of mine. And so I hope that if I start the Camino with the intention of self-discovery and exploration and clarification, the Camino spirit will work it’s magic on me, too.

After all, it’s a lot more fun to think of it like that than just a really long walk, right?

Either way, I can’t wait.

P.S. Thank you so much for all of the encouraging comments on my last post. It was exactly what I needed to help calm my nerves. Kevin refers to all you lovely people as my “support group” and it’s kind of true. So thank you again!

LoraOctober 1, 2013 - 10:57 am

Bon Voyage!

Jenn from Much to My DelightOctober 1, 2013 - 11:00 am

I think it is SO amazing that you are doing this!! It sounds like a completely life-changing spiritual experience and I bet you will learn more about yourself in the next 6 weeks than you could over the next ten years. Bon voyage, safe travels, and enjoy this really special time in you and your husband’s life.

KariOctober 1, 2013 - 11:17 am

I’m so excited for you guys! I can’t believe you are able to pack so light–that is awesome and definitely makes me rethink when I bring two duffle bags for a two day trip:) Have the best time. I’m sure it will have it’s share of ups and downs, but it’s just really cool you guys are doing this. Can’t wait to hear all about it!

MargaretOctober 1, 2013 - 11:28 am

Good luck!! I’m so excited to hear about it- and am hoping for frequent Twitter/Instagram updates!

StephanieOctober 1, 2013 - 12:03 pm

Safe travels! I can’t wait to hear all about it when you get back. I’ve already told Eric to “keep it in mind” for my 35th bday (which is way closer than I’d actually like it to be …).

LauraOctober 1, 2013 - 12:07 pm

I am so excited for you and I cannot wait to hear all about your adventure! This is truly once in a lifetime!

nancy @ adore to adornOctober 1, 2013 - 12:47 pm

Have a wonderful and safe trip! Thinking of you and in the end, all that ends well is well! =D

LaurenOctober 1, 2013 - 1:00 pm

Serena!! Good luck on your Camino! I know it will be an adventure of a lifetime for you and Kevin!! I cannot wait to hear all about it when you get back! Also, I am loveing the dress you wore to Gretchen’s wedding.. it is beautiful! Have so much fun and I will see you on the flip side!

AngieOctober 1, 2013 - 1:42 pm

It’s Flynn 😉 Looking forward to following you through your adventure.

nicole marieOctober 1, 2013 - 9:23 pm

holy crap!!!!!! ahhhhhhh
so excited for you guys!! it’s going to be amazing and such an incredible memory and life altering experience. safe travels friends! instagram a lot but be present and in the moment 🙂

Lisa @ Two MartinisOctober 1, 2013 - 9:34 pm

Safe travels!!!! I’m already inspired just by your packing! I cannot wait to hear about your trip!

Carmen VecchittoOctober 3, 2013 - 6:57 am

I am so thrilled that you are doing this. I am sure you will learn a lot about yourself and what you want out of life, especially since you have set your “intention” of doing so. This is so bold! It takes a ton of courage! I am totally impressed and I can’t wait to see pictures and read more blog posts along the way. You are going to blog along the way, aren’t you?

Way to take life by the reigns and plunge right in!

Anxiety Be Gone!

I woke up with a lot of anxiety this morning. I’m sure this is just a culmination of being super busy the last few days trying to wrap up loose ends with work, drinking every night this week because of social activities, and not sleeping so well because of the combination of the two, but it’s already 10 am and I still haven’t been able to shrug the ridden with anxiety feeling off. Our trip is so soon and I’m getting worried that there is just not enough time to get done everything we still need to get done.

For the last week I’ve been frantically trying to get together all of the last minute stuff we might need, and as far as packing goes, I think we’re good. Like I said before, I’ve become an absolute expert in outdoor gear, and I’ve spent more time than I care to admit researching things like wine, food, and hotels, so in the planning aspect, I feel okay. But I still have that fear that as soon as we leave I’m going to realize I forgot something huge and freak out.

And then there’s the whole physical part of it all. The fear that Kevin and I are massively under-prepared for the physical part of the Camino de Santiago has been slowly taking over my psyche. As I mentioned before, we haven’t done much training. And as in much, I mean we’ve done three longish hikes. That’s it. We bought walking poles a couple of months ago and we haven’t even taken them out of the packaging nor figured out how to use them yet. Way to go us!

For months I have been saying to myself (and others) “it’s just walking! how hard can it be?” but as evidenced by the horror stories on the Camino de Santiago message boards, it can be very hard. Blisters, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis…. there is a whole long list of things that can happen to your body from prolonged walking and make you unable to continue. And I so don’t want to be one of those people that halfway in has to stop because I didn’t train enough leading up to it.

But in one week Kevin and I will be landing in Pamplona, so at this stage there’s not a whole lot I can do about it. And worrying isn’t going to change or help anything.

So instead I’m going to take a deep breath, trust that it’s all going to work out, turn off my computer, and hop in the car with Kevin to drive to Ojai for the wedding of two of our favorite people.

And just typing that sentence made me feel better.

It will all work out, and life is good.

Me and the gorgeous bride-to-be a couple of months ago in Hood River, Oregon.
Happy Thursday friends!
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MichelleSeptember 26, 2013 - 10:21 am

Everything WILL be okay and everything will turn out exactly as it should. Even if that means you have to cab it, who cares, you’re in Spain!! I had the same feelings of “what if I forget something hugely important?!” – – and guess what, not one thing came to mind after we left that I needed. In fact, there might even be things that you’ll realize you never even needed in the first place. You guys are going to be great and do great! 🙂 Enjoy the wedding! See you monday 🙂


ritaSeptember 26, 2013 - 10:36 am

it is what it is – and all you can do right now is breathe. job changes are one of the most stressful things a person can go through – as is moving, which you are sort of also doing. i was totally overwhelmed when i quit and i let it get the best of me. just take deep breaths, maybe do some yoga, and get enough sleep this week – camino real will be what you make of it, whether you do the whole thing or just part, it’s the experience and the journey that matter! so cheesy, but so true.

MoSeptember 26, 2013 - 10:39 am

You guys will be just great. It’s going to be the best thing ever. Have a great weekend celebrating Gretchen and Derek AND your freedom from Winston!

eileen ragan | leaner by the lakeSeptember 26, 2013 - 10:51 am

Sending you so many anti-anxiety vibes! I’m having a similar sort of “what am i getting myself into” anxiety at the moment as my 10k race is this Saturday. I feel like I’m at the whim of my body and the weather and how my running shoes will feel. We’ll see and I know it will be fine, but it’s scary to not know!!

listening to feel good music ALWAYS helps me through times like this. Hope you enjoy your weekend away 🙂

Julie / BoundSeptember 26, 2013 - 11:05 am

You will be great!!! The best part about it is that it IS just walking, and you can stop and rest anytime you want. If you have to stay an extra day somewhere to recover, I bet you can make it work. Plus it’s like the biggest adventure ever, so you’ll have massive adrenaline from doing something new!

JessicaSeptember 26, 2013 - 11:37 am

Don’t stress it, girl! 90% of things we worry about don’t happen- or something like that! You got some killer shoes and are going to be just fine! I’m super pumped for you guys! XO

Lisa @ Two MartinisSeptember 26, 2013 - 1:17 pm

Preparing for a trip gets me super anxious, too! Sometimes I wonder why I even bother going on vacation… (but then when I’m actually there I’m like ‘ohhhh, yep, this is why’) When we left for our honeymoon (volunteering/safari/European city) I was super concerned we wouldn’t have any of the right stuff, but it worked out perfectly! I’m sure you’re way more prepared than you think and that you will have the most AMAZING experience ever!!

AngieSeptember 26, 2013 - 1:24 pm

So excited for you and Kevin – relax and enjoy! Several years ago I did the 4 day Machu Picchu trek and hadn’t even done 1 long hikes and I made it (you just have to tell yourself that you will make it). I know 30 days is a lot longer but you are on your own schedule – so you rest when you need to. I will say please make sure your shoes are broken in – that you can still work on and the hiking poles you’ll figure out 😉

nancy @ adore to adornSeptember 26, 2013 - 2:13 pm

I would guess that anxiety is part of the process? If you weren’t, you’d be a superhero! You and your husband are amazing for even doing this. Things will work out and things will be as they are. But you’ll experience this together and have the memories forever! =D *envious*


nicole marieSeptember 26, 2013 - 3:31 pm

hahah welcome to my life for about 3 month before moving to spain. so much anxiety! but you’ve prepared everything you can, you’ve educated yourself and the only thing more you can do is experience it and i’m sure there will be a lot of things you learn a lot the way that no interent forum or research could have prepared you for.

no matter how much you prepare it’s going to have tough parts but you know what worst comes to worst you hop on the train and ride it to the next town for a break. definitely no shame in listening to your body and taking a short cut once/ twice /several times/ the whole way.

have fun this weekend!

Megan C. StroupSeptember 26, 2013 - 9:37 pm

Good luck with the final preparations! And just remember, no matter what happens on the trail (blisters, missed reservations, whatever), it’s going to be a FABULOUS experience!!!!