Tag Archives: world nomad

Walking Across Spain (El Camino de Santiago): Week 3

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Continued from previous post Walking Across Spain (El Camino de Santiago): Week 2

 

31 May

Day 15: Honturas to Frómista (32 km)

I left early again, not on purpose, but because Ethan decided to sleep in. The first half of the 30 km+ day was great. I felt as powerful as ever! Soon, I began to feel my blister coming in. Also, I didn’t eat anything for breakfast so I was struggling on the last 5 km to Fromista. Ethan arrived at the municipal about two hours later, and Jon about an hour after that. I took a majority of the day to rest in bed. I did not like the way I felt on the last part of the walk. We’re halfway there, body; just hold up a little longer, then you can relax back in Nepal for two months!”

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I had to wear a buff over my face for part of the day because it was getting mighty buggy!

1 June

Day 16: Frómista to Carron (18 km)

Today I woke up and ate an apple and a donut for breakfast, which seemed to help this time. The back of my left leg was still a bit sore, but I was able to power through the 18 km day. The sun was relentless and I had sweat dripping down my back and out of my armpits. I’m gonna have to figure out how to deal with the heat tomorrow as it’s a 37 km day in the sun! I made a dinner from scratch: rice with caramelized onions and green peppers along with a cheesy chicken on top. I thought I did quite well. Gotta rest for tomorrows haul. It may be the hardest day yet!”

 

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2 June

Day 17: Carron to Sahagun (37 km)

Today was long and hot! 37 km! I stuck my stick so that it was sticking up out of my bag and hung my rain jacket from it. It was like a canopy that protected me from the direct sunlight. I was also able to read an entire novel as the path was straightforward and without many hazards. My group of three also got split up. I made it to Saharan while Jon stayed in Terradillos (it was too hot for him) while Ethan stayed in a town (don’t remember the name) about 18 km back! He stayed behind for unknown reasons. No worries, we shall regroup once we get to Leon in a couple days. This may be good for Ethan to get a couple days on his own, actually.”

The novel I read was called A Girl On a Train, the only book in English I could find in the albergue’s. I read a couple chapters the day before and read the rest on this day, under my mobile canopy.

 

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3 June

Day 18: Sahagun to Mansilla (35 km)

Today hurt like no other day. I was moving at a brisk pace when suddenly my left leg (which has been sore for the last few days) said “no more’’. I took a pause in Regioso to eat and rest up so I could finish the 35 km day. Only about 6 km to go! I had a renewed, God given, strength and regained a pep in my step as I quickly made it to the municipal in Mansilla. There, I reunited with two pilgrims I met yesterday, Jake and Dan, who arrived shortly after. I made us all a pasta dinner and then hit the hay. My body needs rest. Tomorrow I will have an easy 18km day and will meet up again with Ethan and Jon. After speaking to Dan, it’s my left Achilles that’s paining me. He taught me how to stretch it out. Hopefully, it will help.”

Today was the first day that I spent the night apart from everyone in my group. Weird at first, but a good change of pace for a moment. I’m sure the others could have used the separation as well.

4 June

Day 19: Mansilla to Léon (18 km)

Jake and I had an easy 18 km walk to the big city of Leon. There, I reunited with Ethan and Jon, and we went tapas crawling. Many pubs served tapas when you ordered a drink. Our albergue reminded me of a military war hospital. And it just so happened that the loudest snorers on Earth were in our room. The city of Leon itself was much better than Burgos, but it was still no Pamplona. At 9pm, our group went to the albergue’s monastery for a special pilgrims blessing. Most of the sermon was in Spanish, but the list of it was a blessing for us pilgrims for our continued perseverance and guidance for the rest of our walk.”

I’m not a very religious person by no means, but I felt that going to at least one blessing along this camino would be neat to experience.

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5 June

Day 20: Léon to Hospital (24 km)

Jake and I walked 24 km to San Martin, our intended destination for the day, but instead went further to Hospital; an outstanding medical town that was much better than the previous cities. However, the walk today was the ugliest in the whole camino so far—industrial pretty much the whole way. Once I got to Hospital, I messaged Ethan and Jon letting them know that I went an extra town further. They persisted and joined me later on. I made a dinner for the five of us (Ethan, Jon, Jake, and other Dan), a special pasta with veggies, a creamy carbonara sauce and lots of grilled chicken breast. I think I may have outdone myself this time. The total day was about 30 km.”

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6 June

Day 21: Hospital to Astorga (20 km)

I hate to admit this, but I’m ready to be done! They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, but I’m just about over walking and never plan on walking again. I shall invest in a Segway after this. Today’s walk was a short 14 km into a rather larger city: Astorga. Found a comfortable hostel near the cathedral and just planned on doing nothing all day. Just relax, Youtube, and nap. No matter how much the others wanted to ‘do something’’, Today was my day to do absolutely nothing. I had no desire to see the city. My only desire was to get to Santiago, get outta Spain and continue the rest of my trip to far more interesting endeavors (Nepal, Germany, Africa, etc). Had done kebob for dinner. Met twins from England.”

 

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6 June

Astorga Thoughts

So. Everyone that told me they’ve done the camino before, told me it was one of the best decisions they’ve ever made. Mainly because of the people they’ve met along the way that has made their camino extra special. It’s day 21 and I gave up hope on meeting those special people. TBH, most of the pilgrims I’ve come across are rather odd or just too old with nothing in common with me. Besides a handful of gems, my small group, I haven’t really bonded well with the people here as I usually do on my other backpacking trips. It could just be bad luck or bad timing on my part. Or maybe because most of these pilgrims are first time travelers and I just can’t be bothered with their noobness. I’ve met amazing people during all my travels, but no one here really wowed me, save for those gems I mentioned. Also, waay too many old people who have no shame when it comes to walking around in their tighty-whities, farting, snorting, snoring, etc. I’ll reserve my final opinion until I actually reach Santiago. So far, it’s been mediocre.

Just being honest. Keeping an open mind.


One more camino post!

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I’m Not Supposed to Be Here! (Qatar)

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Guys, I effed up big time!

I fully expected to be flying to Tajikistan, where I would begin to explore the ‘stan countries over the next couple of months. I had my hostel reserved, flight booked, and everything! As it turns out, I’ll have to save Tajikistan, and all the other ‘stans for a later date.

Here is what happened.

I rocked up to the Kathmandu Airport, bags in tow, passport in my pocket ready to go. I proceeded to the desk to check-in my big bag for my flight to Tajikistan. I had an 11-hour connecting layover in Dubai first.

“Your bags will go straight through to Dushanbe (that’s the capital of Tajikistan)” said the airport attendant. “Can I have your Tajikistan visa?”

“Umm…what?” I said, confused as all heck. I was certain I would get a visa upon landing in Dushanbe. I checked that shit.

“Your visa for Tajikistan?” she repeated.

“I don’t need a visa now,” I said to her with certainty. “I will get one on arrival.”

She paused for a moment.

“I’m sorry, I can’t let you board your flight without a visa,” she responded.

We battled back and forth (in a friendly manner), because I was so sure that I didn’t need a visa before going to Tajikistan.

“Can I log into your Wi-Fi and check?” I asked.

I handed her my phone and she input the Wi-Fi password. I stepped aside so she could assist other customers while I checked the visa procedures for Tajikistan online.

Turns out we were both correct. I do get a visa on arrival but only after I apply for it online first.

Oops.

I can’t stay in Nepal any longer. This was day 90 of my 90-day visa!

I apologized to the woman and asked her if it was still possible to go to Dubai. She said yes. I had an eleven-hour layover there, so maybe by some God-help-me-please miracle, I could whip up a quick Tajikistan visa and continue as planned.

Well once I got to Dubai, I was informed that America just dropped bombs into Syria which for some reason slowed the procedural processes down here in the Middle Eastern airports. Great.

I looked online to apply for a last-minute visa, but with no luck. I even spoke to airport staff to see if there was absolutely anything I could do. They wouldn’t let me on the flight because they were concerned I would be trapped in Tajikistan, since I didn’t have proof of a visa yet. The embassy in Tajikistan was closed and wouldn’t answer their phone. I tried everything until I lost all hope. I was stuck in Dubai without a flight out to anywhere.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid me. This was all my fault. No one else to blame. How could I be so careless not to realize? I’m usually so careful!

Alright Daniel, just book a hotel for a few nights while you wait for a new visa, then book a new flight to Tajikistan.

Dubai is not a bad place to be; it’s just expensive as shit. But then I thought… You know what? I’m gonna treat mah’self!

Soft luscious beds with big fluffy pillows and fast Wi-Fi doesn’t exist in Nepal so I decided to book a hotel that had all of that and then some. The hotel I booked just outside of the airport was a lot more expensive than I needed it to be, but after spending three months in the mountains, I’d say this was well deserved.

Another thought occurred to me.

Daniel, you don’t HAVE to go to Tajikistan. Really, you are free to go ANYWHERE in the world you want!

The more I thought about it, the more it appealed to my thirst to see the world. I decided to save the ‘stans for another time and spontaneously head to Eastern Europe to backpack there, beginning with Romania which has been a country I have wanted to visit for a long time.

Some friends that lived nearby in Qatar saw that I was in Dubai and half-jokingly implored that I come visit them while I was here. A flight from Dubai to Doha is only about 50 minutes. It’s also relatively cheap. And I’ve never been to Qatar before. So why not? With that I booked a flight to Qatar. From there I had a flight booked to Bucharest, Romania a few days afterwards.


Qatar

A week ago, if someone told me I would be spending time in Qatar, I wouldn’t believe them. I did not expect to be here, especially on such short notice, but thanks to the magic and enthusiasm of my international friends, anything is possible. And so here I am, in Doha, Qatar!

My friend Yasmin picked me up from the airport.

I met Yasmin while in Mexico a couple years back through our mutual friend Sam (whom I visited recently in Bali). She was happy to have me here! We rode to another friend of ours’, Katie, whom I met in Guatemala around the same time. (It truly is a small world, folks!) Both Yasmin and Katie are teachers in Doha, but previously they both taught in Mexico City. When they taught here during the day, I was free to explore the city much to my anticipation! I knew nothing about Qatar besides the fact that it’s comparable to Dubai in terms of aesthetics and build. One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the heat.

It was hot as shit!

I was supposed to be in the moderate temperatures of the Tajikistan mountains, not a Middle Eastern desert! I took it in stride and walked all along Al Corniche (Doha Harbor) towards the main souks.

Doha is what I expected it to be: a big city that prides itself on suave architecture and man-made everything, just like Dubai.

Many of the hot spot buildings I walked to (in intense heat, I might add) were remarkable in design and not as touristy as one would expect. As a matter of fact, I barely saw any tourists, as far as I could tell, in this tiny hot-oven of a country. Most of them I found in the main souks. This particular souk had a diverse selection of restaurants, specializing in specific international menus such as Turkey, Lebanon, Italy, and even Iraq.

A good amount of the city was under construction, in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup that little ol’ Qatar will be hosting, so walking around wasn’t quite as straight-forward as it should have been.

Yasmin also invited me out to a birthday celebration dinner with her friends in the city. We had Mexican. I LOVE Mexican! It’s been awhile.

Still, I had an underlying sense that “I wasn’t supposed to be there in Qatar”. It was bizarre, yet cool at the same time. This Quest to the Seven Continents can truly lead me anywhere.

Later on, I met up with another friend of mine by the name of Renata, whom I met way back in the day in Tanzania (2012). She’s also teaching here but in an international school further away from Yasmin’s.

Renata wanted to show me around as well and took me to Katara, a happening area on the other side of the city. There I had THE BEST hummus of my life in a restaurant called Mamig near the bay, along with a dazzling backdrop of Doha lit up during the night.

It’s been about four days. I came here rather unexpectedly and didn’t want to stray around too long. I must continue! Yasmin had a flight to Egypt around the same time I had my scheduled flight to Romania, in the stupid hours of the night/early morning, so we shared an Uber ride there together.


Now, one of the most common questions I get during my travels is:

“Dan, how do you know so many people, almost everywhere in the world?”

Alongside comments similar to this:

“I can’t travel like you because I don’t know people all over the world like you.”

Simply put, all of these people I know are people that I have met in the past years of travels and I have kept in touch with them (not all of them, of course) via social media apps. Many of them I met while volunteering. I met quite a lot while backpacking. Lots of them are friends of friends. Some of them I met in rather peculiar ways.

Interesting fact: the only reason I keep a Facebook is to keep in touch with all of these people I meet, otherwise I wouldn’t have one. The friends I made in Costa Rica, my very first solo trip, forced me to make an account! I’m glad they did.

These travel buddies always come through when I’m in a strange land. There is always someone there I know who is around and that wants to meet. Yasmin and Katie saw my predicament in Dubai (via FB) and invited me over to Qatar.

But as far as Romania goes, or Eastern Europe for that matter, I don’t know a single soul that lives there (I think) and instead will be backpacking freely through the country, as much as my heart’s content.

Let’s see what Romania has to offer! It will probably be good.

I'm Not Supposed to Be Here! (Qatar)

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Guys, I effed up big time!

I fully expected to be flying to Tajikistan, where I would begin to explore the ‘stan countries over the next couple of months. I had my hostel reserved, flight booked, and everything! As it turns out, I’ll have to save Tajikistan, and all the other ‘stans for a later date.

Here is what happened.

I rocked up to the Kathmandu Airport, bags in tow, passport in my pocket ready to go. I proceeded to the desk to check-in my big bag for my flight to Tajikistan. I had an 11-hour connecting layover in Dubai first.

“Your bags will go straight through to Dushanbe (that’s the capital of Tajikistan)” said the airport attendant. “Can I have your Tajikistan visa?”

“Umm…what?” I said, confused as all heck. I was certain I would get a visa upon landing in Dushanbe. I checked that shit.

“Your visa for Tajikistan?” she repeated.

“I don’t need a visa now,” I said to her with certainty. “I will get one on arrival.”

She paused for a moment.

“I’m sorry, I can’t let you board your flight without a visa,” she responded.

We battled back and forth (in a friendly manner), because I was so sure that I didn’t need a visa before going to Tajikistan.

“Can I log into your Wi-Fi and check?” I asked.

I handed her my phone and she input the Wi-Fi password. I stepped aside so she could assist other customers while I checked the visa procedures for Tajikistan online.

Turns out we were both correct. I do get a visa on arrival but only after I apply for it online first.

Oops.

I can’t stay in Nepal any longer. This was day 90 of my 90-day visa!

I apologized to the woman and asked her if it was still possible to go to Dubai. She said yes. I had an eleven-hour layover there, so maybe by some God-help-me-please miracle, I could whip up a quick Tajikistan visa and continue as planned.

Well once I got to Dubai, I was informed that America just dropped bombs into Syria which for some reason slowed the procedural processes down here in the Middle Eastern airports. Great.

I looked online to apply for a last-minute visa, but with no luck. I even spoke to airport staff to see if there was absolutely anything I could do. They wouldn’t let me on the flight because they were concerned I would be trapped in Tajikistan, since I didn’t have proof of a visa yet. The embassy in Tajikistan was closed and wouldn’t answer their phone. I tried everything until I lost all hope. I was stuck in Dubai without a flight out to anywhere.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid me. This was all my fault. No one else to blame. How could I be so careless not to realize? I’m usually so careful!

Alright Daniel, just book a hotel for a few nights while you wait for a new visa, then book a new flight to Tajikistan.

Dubai is not a bad place to be; it’s just expensive as shit. But then I thought… You know what? I’m gonna treat mah’self!

Soft luscious beds with big fluffy pillows and fast Wi-Fi doesn’t exist in Nepal so I decided to book a hotel that had all of that and then some. The hotel I booked just outside of the airport was a lot more expensive than I needed it to be, but after spending three months in the mountains, I’d say this was well deserved.

Another thought occurred to me.

Daniel, you don’t HAVE to go to Tajikistan. Really, you are free to go ANYWHERE in the world you want!

The more I thought about it, the more it appealed to my thirst to see the world. I decided to save the ‘stans for another time and spontaneously head to Eastern Europe to backpack there, beginning with Romania which has been a country I have wanted to visit for a long time.

Some friends that lived nearby in Qatar saw that I was in Dubai and half-jokingly implored that I come visit them while I was here. A flight from Dubai to Doha is only about 50 minutes. It’s also relatively cheap. And I’ve never been to Qatar before. So why not? With that I booked a flight to Qatar. From there I had a flight booked to Bucharest, Romania a few days afterwards.


Qatar

A week ago, if someone told me I would be spending time in Qatar, I wouldn’t believe them. I did not expect to be here, especially on such short notice, but thanks to the magic and enthusiasm of my international friends, anything is possible. And so here I am, in Doha, Qatar!

My friend Yasmin picked me up from the airport.

I met Yasmin while in Mexico a couple years back through our mutual friend Sam (whom I visited recently in Bali). She was happy to have me here! We rode to another friend of ours’, Katie, whom I met in Guatemala around the same time. (It truly is a small world, folks!) Both Yasmin and Katie are teachers in Doha, but previously they both taught in Mexico City. When they taught here during the day, I was free to explore the city much to my anticipation! I knew nothing about Qatar besides the fact that it’s comparable to Dubai in terms of aesthetics and build. One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the heat.

It was hot as shit!

I was supposed to be in the moderate temperatures of the Tajikistan mountains, not a Middle Eastern desert! I took it in stride and walked all along Al Corniche (Doha Harbor) towards the main souks.

Doha is what I expected it to be: a big city that prides itself on suave architecture and man-made everything, just like Dubai.

Many of the hot spot buildings I walked to (in intense heat, I might add) were remarkable in design and not as touristy as one would expect. As a matter of fact, I barely saw any tourists, as far as I could tell, in this tiny hot-oven of a country. Most of them I found in the main souks. This particular souk had a diverse selection of restaurants, specializing in specific international menus such as Turkey, Lebanon, Italy, and even Iraq.

A good amount of the city was under construction, in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup that little ol’ Qatar will be hosting, so walking around wasn’t quite as straight-forward as it should have been.

Yasmin also invited me out to a birthday celebration dinner with her friends in the city. We had Mexican. I LOVE Mexican! It’s been awhile.

Still, I had an underlying sense that “I wasn’t supposed to be there in Qatar”. It was bizarre, yet cool at the same time. This Quest to the Seven Continents can truly lead me anywhere.

Later on, I met up with another friend of mine by the name of Renata, whom I met way back in the day in Tanzania (2012). She’s also teaching here but in an international school further away from Yasmin’s.

Renata wanted to show me around as well and took me to Katara, a happening area on the other side of the city. There I had THE BEST hummus of my life in a restaurant called Mamig near the bay, along with a dazzling backdrop of Doha lit up during the night.

It’s been about four days. I came here rather unexpectedly and didn’t want to stray around too long. I must continue! Yasmin had a flight to Egypt around the same time I had my scheduled flight to Romania, in the stupid hours of the night/early morning, so we shared an Uber ride there together.


Now, one of the most common questions I get during my travels is:

“Dan, how do you know so many people, almost everywhere in the world?”

Alongside comments similar to this:

“I can’t travel like you because I don’t know people all over the world like you.”

Simply put, all of these people I know are people that I have met in the past years of travels and I have kept in touch with them (not all of them, of course) via social media apps. Many of them I met while volunteering. I met quite a lot while backpacking. Lots of them are friends of friends. Some of them I met in rather peculiar ways.

Interesting fact: the only reason I keep a Facebook is to keep in touch with all of these people I meet, otherwise I wouldn’t have one. The friends I made in Costa Rica, my very first solo trip, forced me to make an account! I’m glad they did.

These travel buddies always come through when I’m in a strange land. There is always someone there I know who is around and that wants to meet. Yasmin and Katie saw my predicament in Dubai (via FB) and invited me over to Qatar.

But as far as Romania goes, or Eastern Europe for that matter, I don’t know a single soul that lives there (I think) and instead will be backpacking freely through the country, as much as my heart’s content.

Let’s see what Romania has to offer! It will probably be good.