Bridesmaid Hair. And The Power of Yelp

So…. a few weeks ago I was in my friend Lindsey’s wedding.

It. was. awesome.

Kevin was a groomsmen, which made it extra awesome, because it was the first (and probably only) time that we’ve ever been in a wedding together. We had a blast.

The ceremony was at city hall, and the reception was at a beautiful boutique hotel right downtown. It was elegant and classy and fancy and we had a so much fun that I don’t remember most of it.

But that is not what this post is about.

This post is about hair.

Bridesmaid hair in particular.

My bridesmaid hair, at Lindsey’s wedding.

I’m very lucky that I’ve been blessed with a lot of awesome friends who for some reason have loved me enough to give me the honor of being in their weddings. And often as a bridesmaid, you and the other ladies decide to splurge and get your hair and makeup done.

However, committing to this is always somewhat of a gamble, because while a lot of hair and makeup stylists are amazing, a lot of them are… not. But you decide to take your chances, and show up armed with a lot of photos of what you want, and hope for the best.

And this usually works out. You usually end up looking great!

But sometimes the opposite happens.

Case in point: Lindsey’s wedding.

The woman that Lindsey had hired was fantastic.

Her assistant, who did my hair, was not quite so fantastic.

When it was my turn I took out my photo and told her that I wanted loose curls pinned back.

I showed her this picture:


Easy enough, right?

She looked at it and says “oh, super easy!” and got to work. 45 minutes later, and she was done!

She slowly walked me to a mirror to show me her masterpiece….

(Keep in mind, the photo above is what I asked for)

And this is what I got:









Needless to say, I was not exactly thrilled with the look, but because I am a total coward when it comes to confrontation and telling someone I’m unhappy with something, I said nothing. I just kind of mumbled an “ohhhhhh…..” and then ran upstairs where the other girls were.

As expected, they burst into laughter and proceeded to tell me that there was no way I could go out in public with my hair looking like that.

Long story short, I took out my hair, brushed it out completely, curled it all over again, and had my friend Gretchen help me pull it into a side ponytail.

It goes without saying that it looked infinitely better:


The hair ladies watched as we did this, but said nothing. No offers to help. No apologies.  No questions. Nada. It was awkward.

When the time came to pay, the assistant who had worked on my hair had already left. I asked the main hairstylist (it was her company) how much I owed, and I told her that as she knew, both the bride and I were very unhappy with my hair so we took it out and I redid it myself. She laughed and said “ohhhhohohoho” (she was French, that is my impersonation of a french giggle) and then proceeded to tell me I owed the full amount.

I was not happy.

So a few days later, I went to yelp and shared this disdain with the internet.

And what do you know… suddenly I get an email from the main hairstylist apologizing profusely and offering to refund me in the hopes that I amend or delete my yelp review.

I told her that if she refunded me I would happily change my yelp review.

She refunded me.

I deleted my review.

Happiness all around!

But this got me thinking…. this woman had all five star reviews until mine.

And once she refunded me, I deleted my review, and she was back up to her 100% five star rating.

So was my bad experience just a fluke? Or are most people essentially “paying off” their bad reviews in order to keep their reviews positive?

Man, the power of yelp.

Social media is crazy.

Have you ever been asked to change or delete a review?
And more importantly, have you ever had hair as bad as mine?!?

KateSeptember 24, 2013 - 5:52 am

Wow! I’ve never been asked to take a bad review down! To be honest, I wasn’t even aware companies asked for bad reviews to be taken down. It seems a little sneaky for a company to do that in order to keep their rating high.

I have however had plenty of bad hair experiences. I’ve been in three weddings over the course of 2 years and while 1 out of the three times my hair looked FABULOUS, the other two times it looked horrible! The first style, the curls fell out within two hours because she didn’t put enough hairspray in it (and I have wavy hair so curls really love to stay in my hair) and the other style was similar to your situation, I showed a picture of a beautiful updo and I got a side pony.

Oddly enough the one that looked amazing was the same photo you showed!

MargaretSeptember 24, 2013 - 6:04 am

There was actually a story on the news this morning about companies paying people to write positive reviews and that an extra star on Yelp! can equal 10% more business for a company. It’s crazy how much people rely on online reviews and how these reviews might not always paint the full picture…

On that note- I have been in 4 weddings in the last two years, and I have been lucky enough to love my hair every time! Last year for one of them, I definitely lucked out because I was one of 5 bridesmaids who was actually happy with how mine turned out.

KariSeptember 24, 2013 - 6:55 am

That’s too bad! Getting your hair done is always a gamble. I hate paying someone a ridiculous amount of money for an up do and then being so disappointed in it. If the stars can get their hair to look that good, why can’t we?:) Your hair ended up looking really cute, though, once you fixed it. That’s a tricky thing about Yelp. I would rather get my money back, too, but then you feel bad for the unsuspecting people out there. You did the right thing, and I’m glad you didn’t have to pay for that crappy style:)

WhitneySeptember 24, 2013 - 7:41 am

I can’t imagine being told to take a review down, but I’m glad you got your money back. I had a situation last spring where I got my hair colored and my roots turned out this awful orange color. The stylist tried to tell me it was a reverse ombre (my ends were still dark brown.) I went in to see the manager and she tried to tell me it was what I asked for. I said screw it and bought a box dye in dark brown. I’ll never be scared to speak up again though.

JulietSeptember 24, 2013 - 8:45 am

Ha ha, I can totally relate. I once asked for a low sleek ponytail. Instead, I looked like the girl from Napolean Dynamite. It sucked. The lady was so proud of her work that I paid and ran out, calling a friend on the way home and begging her to fix it. Another time my hair looked like I had four perfectly ugly donuts on my head with red eyeshadow and pink lips. Wtf? She told me it was a “soft bridal look.” That was my practice appointment for my wedding hair. I ran.

StephanieSeptember 24, 2013 - 9:34 am

WTF is right. I had a similar experience when I was a bridesmaid a few years ago. I took in a photo of a simple side braid that wrapped around and became a side pony. I do an unpolished version of it myself so how hard could it be? It ended up looking like a 10 year old did it and she used so much product in my bangs they looked greasy and oily before I even left the salon. I ended up re-doing the pony and pinning back the braids … and had to pay full price.

Speaking of which, I’ve heard of quite a few people that have been asked to take down bad reviews they wrote on Yelp. I’ve also heard that businesses can pay Yelp to take them down if the person who wrote it decides not to. I don’t know how entirely true that is but it makes me a little skeptical of the “all 5-star” business on Yelp now.

LauraSeptember 24, 2013 - 10:46 am

I had the most awkward encounter when looking for an officiant for our wedding. We found someone on Yelp (because we are not religious so officiant was not high on my list) who had wonderful reviews. Well I emailed him and he told me he would cost $900! So I was like um noooo thank you. Turns out my sister in law who was getting married in May (6 months before me) had hired him as well and he was charging her $450. So I emailed him back and asked why the price difference and he told me it was due to the time of year. Her in May me in October.
Long story short I went on Yelp and gave him 3 out of 5 stars due to his pricing. Because when I go on Yelp this is something I want to know. And he emailed me all upset!! So I deleted my review and called it a day. AWKWARD!

Lisa @ Two MartinisSeptember 24, 2013 - 12:07 pm

Well, I’ve never been asked to take a review down but I guess that’s because I don’t write many reviews… especially negative ones! But I am now very interested in whether many companies do this to keep their ratings high. Very interesting!

Also, good call on changing the hair style 🙂

LindseySeptember 24, 2013 - 12:32 pm

Hahahha! This still makes me laugh. Both of our bridesmaids hair experiences have come full circle – the same thing happened to me and Molly at your wedding – except we couldn’t use yelp since they didn’t even speak english :).

It just a bummer that it’s always the assistants that suck 🙁 I am just glad yours looked good in the end and you got your money back 🙂

On another note, I think it’s lame for businesses to ask for a customer to delete a post, instead they should comment off of the post with an apology or ask the customer to explain the situation if it’s been amended afterwards like in your case.

Love yah!

JeniSeptember 24, 2013 - 9:16 pm

Wow what a story! And it was teri le of them to put you guys in an awkward situation. i would have just not paid them. My wedding was just a few weeks ago and we had a horrible experience with a florist (when I ordered bulk flowers for my friends to put into centerpiece jars themselves, the flowers arrived uncut and unwashed!!) my plan is to call them to complain, and if they don’t resolve it (or compensate me), I will definitely write a bad review.

That being said, I think the review should be the last resort. Sometimes vendors make mistakes and I think this offers them a chance to correct, which also should be praised.

You looked gorgeous without done-up Barbie hair anyway!!


Guest Post Over at Back East Blonde

Hi friends!
Today I’m over at Back East Blonde talking about
San Francisco apartment etiquette.
Fascinating, right?!
Please hop on over and say hello!

And for those of you that are stopping by
from Nadine’s lovely part of blog land,

Please pour yourself a large glass of wine
and make yourself at home.

If you haven’t figured it out yet,
my name is Serena and this is my blog.

Herein you will find my attempts at pretending proving
that you can still be cool even when you’re old(ish).

I recently announced that I’m going to be
leaving my job in order to walk
500 miles across Spain with my husband.

You might think embarking
on such a lofty athletic venture
would mean that my husband and I are
all outdoorsy and like to work out and stuff.

And to that, I say

We are not outdoorsy.
Nor do we like working out.

Our main inspiration for this trip is the food and wine.

Just kidding.

(not really).

If you’re interested in learning more,
you can do so here,
and you can find some horribly awkward photos of me here.

If you need a good laugh,
I highly recommend that post.
It’s worth it,
I promise you.

Thanks for stopping by,
and I do hope you’ll say hello :=)

Happy Thursday, friends!
Only one more day until the weekend!

EmilySeptember 19, 2013 - 1:19 pm

Hi Serena! Stopping by from Back East Blonde! I loved your post and I am LOVING that you and your husband are dropping everything and heading to Spain! I’m sure it’ll be quite the adventure. Hopefully you’ll keep posting so I can live vicariously through you!

Newest bloglovin’ follower!


KateSeptember 19, 2013 - 4:23 pm

Hello there! I really enjoyed your post on Nadine’s blog! I look forward to perusing your blog and joining you on your Spain adventure!

WhitneySeptember 20, 2013 - 8:56 am

Haha your apartment etiquette is hilarious. Suburban Ohio apartments mean not knowing your neighbors or saying hello ever.

Camino shoes and Online Shopping Addictions

Since Kevin and I are not exactly experienced in the world of outdoor activity, pretty much everything we are bringing on our trip is something that we have had to buy brand new. We’re not people that have trekking backpacks, walking poles, quick-dry wicking t-shirts, buffs, gore-tex rain jackets, or anything of the sort. We barely even have running shoes, so we most certainly did not have any hiking boots.

As any experienced hiker will tell you, the absolute most important thing when it comes to preparing for a hiking/walking trip is your shoes. Good shoes and you’ll be prancing along happily like Joanna Rohrback. Bad shoes and you’ll be limping in pain after one day and cursing the world.

Because I’ve done an exorbitant amount of research leading up to this trip, I was incredibly worried that I wasn’t going to find the right shoes. Because let me tell you, the bad shoe horror stories that I have read about on the Camino message boards are plain out terrifying. Stories about huge bloody blisters and plantar fasciitis and collapsed arches and all sorts of other horrifying things I’d never heard of before. Just from walking.

And then there are all of these shoe “rules” to follow, like buying shoes a size too big so that your feet have plenty of room to swell, but making sure they are not so big that your feet will move around and get blisters. Or getting insoles that are extra cushioned but still tough enough to be supportive, but not too supportive because then your arches get messed up. Or that in addition to wearing sock liners with your wool socks (and god forbid you wear the wrong socks!), you need to cover your feet with vaselin each morning and then line your shoes with a panty liner for extra padding (I’m serious – lots of people do this!). Not to mention that you’re supposed to get your shoes as early as possible, so that you have months and months to break them in.

So all of this is to say, having the right shoes is important.

And I was very paranoid that I wasn’t going to find them.

The first time we went to REI, I was not that impressed with the selection. I tried on many pairs but nothing felt “perfect” so I went home and did some online research. And after reading review after review after review and getting even more confused, I said “eff it” and just ordered every single one that I thought might be a contender. Which came out to be 14 different pairs.

And so a couple of days later, Kevin arrived home to this:


Thank god for the Zappos return policy.

And okay, I admit I might have gone a little overboard, but this way I was able to try them on and walk around and compare and take as long as I wanted and not feel like the REI people were getting annoyed with me. And in that pile of 14, I found my shoes. (Go me!)

Kevin made fun of me about this to no end, but a few weeks later, after a third REI visit in which he still hadn’t been able to find any shoes that felt right (and whining about it constantly), I decided to take matters into my own hands…

I can only imagine what UPS must think of us…

And you know what? It worked.

He finally found the perfect hiking shoes, all thanks to my online shopping hiking shoe research wizardry.

Through this process of camino research and online shipping, I’ve become a pseudo-expert in the world of ultralight outdoor gear (which is hilarious if you know me). Lightest windbreaker? That would be the Patagonia houdini. Possible shin splint prevention? Check out some compression calf sleeves. Best leak proof hydration reservoir? Try the Platypus Big Zip. Want non-synthetic clothing that doesn’t smell but wicks well? Welcome to the world of merino wool.

And being able to buy pretty much everything we need for the Camino without having to step foot into an outdoor sporting store has been awesome.

But here’s the problem…

I’ve now become a bit, er, obsessed, with the online shopping.

Particularly with Zappos. I mean, FREE one-day shipping? FREE returns? What’s not to love.

But it’s started to get a bit out of control, because on almost any random night, this is what our apartment looks like:


I never knew a pair of socks could bring me so much joy…

I now buy pretty much everything online. Everything. Dish soap, toiletries, underwear, electronics, clothes. It’s like I have forgotten real-life physical stores actually exist.

When I come home from work I think to myself “ohhhh I wonder what will be awaiting me tonight!” and excitedly check the mail. And if nothing is there, I get sad.

Oh friends. My name is Serena, and I am an online shopping addict.



Kaitlyn @ Shoot the BreezeSeptember 17, 2013 - 7:28 am

Oh, I would totally order a zillion pairs of shoes off Zappos to find the right pair. Sometimes I find in-store customer service smothering and just really need time and space to decide on the right shoe. (And they are SO important!)

I hope you’ll do more posts about preparing and packing for your trip. I’m finding it really interesting!

KariSeptember 17, 2013 - 8:04 am

That is hilarious!! I love it! That sounds like the best way to shop–by trying everything on in your own living room. Glad you found the perfect shoes. Not having comfortable shoes would be the worst thing. What brand/style did you end up going with?

TheresaSeptember 17, 2013 - 9:15 am

haha you sound like my best friend, she is an online shopping addict! I always put stuff in my cart but never hit “buy”…As for the socks and such. I’m sure you’re done shopping, but in case you want my two cents. I’ve done quite a bit of hiking/backpacking at I’ve found Asolo’s to be the most comfortable shoes (keens were a runner up). And for socks, I love Smart Wool, the REI brand hiking socks are also good. And I’m obsessed with all things Patagonia! I can’t wait to hear stories from your trip. It’s going to be so amazing!

StephanieSeptember 17, 2013 - 10:02 am

This is hilarious! I would totally do the same thing, too. I hate going into stores and dealing with judgey sales people when all I want to do is try on everything in sight at my own pace and maybe wander around in it a bit to see if it feels right. Much better to do that in the privacy of your own home. 🙂

WhitneySeptember 17, 2013 - 10:12 am

I’m glad you’re addicted to online shopping. You and your kind keep me employed 😉

nicole marieSeptember 17, 2013 - 10:20 am

i would go insane frekaing out about all the correct gear and comfort issues… and ps. i am now adding the camino as a bucket list item…. until you’ve started talking about it, even while living in spain having friends do it and being up north and seeing people do it, i was soooo against it and chalked it up to a nightmare but now i really want to do it

Julie / BoundSeptember 17, 2013 - 10:31 am

Switch the search to booties, publish your results, and I will be 100% supportive.

MoSeptember 17, 2013 - 2:17 pm

If I could buy ALL the thing on line I totally would. I HATE shopping. But then, I hate shipping returns as well, which presents a problem.

eileen ragan | leaner by the lakeSeptember 19, 2013 - 10:45 am

Oh gosh, I’m with you on this one – Zappos is wonderfully dangerous! Thrilled to hear your found your dream gear – that’s such a huge deal. After reading WILD where her shoes hurt the ENTIRE hike (!!) I’m happy you got something you know will work!

KateAnnSeptember 19, 2013 - 1:37 pm

I used to have an eBay habit, so I know the thrill of coming home to boxes. You should sign up for EBates. There are no tricks, you don’t get spammed with email and they pay you to shop at stores you’d shop at anyway. If I need something online, I go through the EBates site, buy it and then get a check in the mail. It really is amazing.

ShelbySeptember 20, 2013 - 8:16 am

ummmmm you’re funny! also this is my life. like aaactually my life. like why would i go all the way to walmart for toilet paper when i can have that crap shipped to my house you know? genius. also, how much more awesome is online shopping when it’s clearly a necessity haha. I’m so jealous of your guys’ upcoming trip! buy a calculator watch, seriously. you’ll thank me when your knee deep in currencies that aren’t the good ol’ USD.

Megan C. StroupSeptember 21, 2013 - 10:38 pm

Zappos is the best! I always get rain boots and such from their site so I can return them if they don’t fit. 🙂

[…] the end of the day, I have decided to follow in the footsteps of a 2013 pilgrim and simply order some of each from Zappos, which has free shipping both ways! I admit, I feel […]

[…] the end of the day, I have decided to follow in the footsteps of a 2013 pilgrim and simply order some of each from Zappos, which has free shipping both ways! I admit, I feel […]

Elizabeth Gilbert, You’ve Done it Again

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve at least heard of the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. My guess is that most of you have probably read it.

In my experience, people seem to have a “love it or hate it” relationship with this book. I happen to fall in the “love it” camp (although I will admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the film). I know a lot of people out there found Elizabeth Gilbert to be an annoyingly self-absorbed narcissist, and though I do understand why people thought that, I myself never did. I loved the book and I loved her. I thought it was such a wonderful story about self-discovery and travel and life and love.

So when my friend Julie told me that Elizabeth Gilbert had recently wrote an article about a walking trip she took through Provence, France, and sent me a link to it, I eagerly clicked over to read it. I devoured every single word.

And I fell in love with Ms. Gilbert all over again.

Because it captures so perfectly why it is that I am so excited for this trip that Kevin and I are embarking on. This walking tour of Spain. This pilgrimage. This journey. This whatever it is that you want to call it.

She writes about luxurious dinners of foie gras and escargots, and lunches of camembert and wine under olive trees, and nights spent in fourteenth-century sheep farms, and stopping in a teeny tiny village and purchasing the best cheese she’s ever tasted from a woman in a teeny tiny market, and how having your days consist of walking and eating and drinking made her feel like each day had “the exact right number of hours in it.”

But what she really captures is just how amazing it is to arrive somewhere by foot:

Despite our navigational challenges, we promptly realized how much we loved this. Because moving through a country at the pace of a walk is an incredibly intimate way to experience a place. What we encountered during our six-hour hike was simply…everything. Every single iris blossom, all the inquisitive local dragonflies and dogs, the chickens who crossed the road nervously, like characters in a joke. We smelled everything, too—the cow pastures, the mustard fields, the wild rosemary and thyme that grew thick in the hills….

There is something about entering an ancient town on foot that’s radically different from entering the same place by car. Keep in mind that these old French towns were all designed by people on foot for people on foot. So when you walk in, you’re approaching the place as it was intended to be approached—slowly and naturally, the way Dorothy came upon Oz (spires rising in the distance, a sense of mounting mystery: What kind of city will this be?). When paved roads were introduced about a thousand years after these towns were built, the macadam sliced artificially across the landscape, stabbing fast into these old parishes at the most convenient (for cars) angles. We, on the other hand, walked there high and alone across the mountains. Then the mountains turned into fields, the fields morphed into a cherry orchard, and the orchard gently spilled us toward Gordes—a city on a hill that, cinematically, we approached from above, from an even higher hill. From the moment we first saw the distant church spires until we stood upon those church steps, we walked for almost two hours, as evening approached and the town unfolded its gorgeousness before us. We arrived there the way people were always meant to arrive: awed, tired, grateful.

The view walking into Gordes

And it is because of experiences like that that put me over-the-edge with excitement about what this trip has in store for us. About what it will be like for Kevin and me to walk into teeny tiny villages and stay in monasteries and take siestas under trees and gorge ourselves on paella and wine and conversation.

So please, if you have any interest in travel or food or France, I urge you to click over and read it for yourself. All seven pages of it. Devour it. Because it’s that good. She writes in a way that, quite simply, makes my heart happy. Which shouldn’t surprise me, considering that she is, as Julie called her, a “writer beast.”

And with that, I wish you a very happy Thursday.



eileen ragan | leaner by the lakeSeptember 12, 2013 - 6:44 am

Immediately reading that this morning. BTW – Last night to started the first half of The Way and am really enjoying it. The scenery is just so beautiful!

STephanieSeptember 12, 2013 - 6:59 am

I am behind in commenting – SO excited for you and Kevin’s journey and can’t wait to live vicariously through you. What an amazing trip and experience it will be. I’m going to Seattle in a couple weeks . . .that’s sorta like the same thing, right? Also, I LOVED Eat, Pray, Love when I read it – I purposely never saw the film because I didn’t want it to ruin what I felt about Elizabeth Gilbert and what I felt about that book.

Looking forward to reading about all of your adventures – have a GREAT trip!

MoSeptember 12, 2013 - 11:03 am

Ok- so I fell into the camp of really liking the book, but not really like Elizabeth Gilbert. I will admit, however, that she is a “writer beast”. Those paragraphs are just beautiful and capture the experience in a way that not even pictures could do. Kudos to her.That bitch 😉

Lisa @ Two MartinisSeptember 12, 2013 - 1:59 pm

Ah, Elizabeth Gilbert. Have you read her book, ‘Committed’? I absolutely love it.

KariSeptember 13, 2013 - 7:48 am

Thanks so much for sharing this! I loved reading about her experiences. It totally made me want to go on one of these walks, too. The last part of her story was so true. It’s hard to find a place that isn’t rushing to step into the future, but is holding on so tightly to the past. Instant gratification has really done a disservice to us. Don’t get me wrong,I love the fact I can get anything in the world delivered to my door, but it kind of takes away the romance of it all. I’m so excited for your adventure and can’t wait to hear all about it:)

AngieSeptember 16, 2013 - 12:07 pm

Thank you for sharing this. I totally had mixed feelings about Eat, Pray, Love, but am currently in a love it phase. I will check out the article.

JeniSeptember 24, 2013 - 9:23 pm

Serena! This is such an amazing idea and I cannot wait to read about you and Kevin’s adventures!

Roy and I had originally planned our honeymoon to be on the Tour du Mont Blanc – have you heard of this? It’s a bit more “rugged” than Gilbert’s one in Provence but the idea is that you sleep/eat in little towns along the way. Alas wedding planning stress took over and we ended up just recuperating by have a 2-weeks-in-paris honeymoon instead.

But you should look up that trek!

“So what’s your plan?”

As soon as Kevin and I started telling people that we were going to walk the Camino de Santiago, a slew of questions flooded in, most of which revolved around how exactly one “does” this. For example:

Is this something you have to sign up for?
Is this a tour?
Do you do it with a group?
Is there a schedule you have to follow?
Where do you stay?
Have you already booked your hotels?
Are you walking for a cause?

The answer to all of these questions is, very simply, no.

You don’t have to sign up for anything. We are not doing a tour, though there are some tour companies out there that will organize it for you, should you be so inclined. We’re not walking with any sort of group, though we certainly hope to meet others along the way. There’s no schedule to follow. You stay in what are called albergues, which are basically hostels that are only available for pilgrims (those walking the way). We haven’t booked a single hotel except for our first two nights in Pamplona. We’re not walking for any cause – this isn’t like the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer – we are walking just for us, for the experience.

Basically, the plan is that there is no plan. There is a route that you follow, and a list of places that pilgrims can stay along the way, but other than that, you just show up, get your Pilgrim’s Passport, and start walking.

There are many different routes that lead to Santiago, but the most popular one (and the one depicted in the film The Way) is the Camino Frances. There is no “official” start to it, but most people start in St Jean Pied de Port, a small town in France, right in the Pyrenees. Originally Kevin and I were planning on starting there too, but since we really wanted to try to keep our walking to 30 days, we decided to start from Pamplona, which will cut out the first three days (and also save us from the trek over the Pyrenees) and should keep us within our goal of making it to Santiago within four weeks.

When we get to Pamplona we’ll have to pick up our pilgrim passports, and once we have those, we’re pretty much good to go. The pilgrim’s passport is the document issued by the cathedral authorities in Santiago, and is needed as proof of your pilgrimage. It needs to get stamped at least once a day, and in order “to prevent abuse of the 1000-year old spirit of hospitality of the pilgrimage, access to the refugios is restricted to those carrying such evidence of their pilgrim status.

Albergues (sometimes called refugios), are basically hostels for pilgrims only. I have no idea what they will really be like, but I call them “old-people hostels.” You show up, show your pilgrim’s passport, and then stay in a room filled with other walkers. They usually cost between €5 -€10 a night. A family style meal is usually offered, in which you eat and drink and dine with your fellow pilgrims, and you’re only allowed to stay one night. Sometimes the albergues are located within monasteries, like the below:

Other times they are in newly remodeled buildings, like this one:

Casa de Abuela in Los Arcos

Our tentative plan is to stay at a hotel every third or fourth night, so that we can have some privacy and be able to catch up on personal hygiene stuff, among other things. You know, things like leg shaving and bed sharing and what not. I don’t know about you, but I am an incredibly slow leg shaver, so there’s no way that I’m going to be able to do that in a communally shared shower space. I also like to take luxuriously long hot showers, which isn’t really hostel etiquette.

Nor is walking around in your underwear, which is another thing I quite enjoy.

For the most part, there’s an albergue or hotel at least every three miles, so how long you walk and where you stop is entirely up to you. Most people walk an average of 13 miles a day, and that’s our plan as well.

However, we’re also allowing ourselves the freedom to just do what works for us. Which means that maybe one day we’ll only feel like walking five miles. And maybe another we’ll feel like walking 18. And if it’s pouring rain all day and after about two miles we’re tired of being muddy and cold and wet, we have no problem calling it a day and taking a taxi to the closest town.

Since neither of us have ever done a trip like this before, we really won’t know what it’s actually going to be like until we start. Our “training” has consisted of some weekend hikes, the longest of which has been seven miles, so it might take our bodies some time to adjust to being able to walk 14 miles a day consistently. And we’re okay with that.

So like I said before, our plan is that we don’t really have a plan.

And that is kind of the most exciting part about it all.


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JessicaSeptember 10, 2013 - 7:58 am

I love the “no plan” plan. Then you can’t get disappointed or let down. You make the rules. And I’m glad you are staying a hotel some nights too- you know for hygiene reason and sexy time. Ha!

LauraSeptember 10, 2013 - 10:51 am

This is seriously so incredible!! I want to crash your party!

ChelseaSeptember 10, 2013 - 1:30 pm

I totally meant to comment on the last post. While I assumed you were pregnant, this is way cooler! It’s such a cool thing to do, and I’m excited to read about your adventure. Also, yes to real hotels for leg shaving. I’ve got a lot of leg, and it’s a lengthy chore! I love that you guys don’t have a plan. I don’t know if I could set aside my planner and just wing it!

eileen ragan | leaner by the lakeSeptember 11, 2013 - 1:51 pm

WOW was this post fascinating to read. I basically dropped everything to read it. This sounds amazing and courageous and perfect for a big getaway trip. You’re going to learn SOOOO much about eachother and yourself and your bodies. So exciting! Keep on sharing!

Megan C. StroupSeptember 13, 2013 - 11:39 am

This is so amazing! I actually have it on my bucket list (which is actually on my blog) to walk at least 10 miles of this trail. I don’t know if I’ll ever do the whole thing, but that would be great, too!

I found your blog through the Bay Area Bloggers group on Better Blogging Network. I just moved to the South Bay and am looking for some Bay Area bloggers to follow, and when I saw your blog I thought, “Well, I love food and wine and San Francisco – I should read more!” Looking forward to reading more of your posts. 🙂

NicoleSeptember 15, 2013 - 7:55 pm

This sounds like such an incredible trip! I would love to do something like this…no plans except what is needed for safety. You may have inspired me to put something like this together for myself! I am interested to know how it all works out.


AngieSeptember 16, 2013 - 1:00 pm

This sounds so amazing! I am excited to hear more about your trip.