In Spain people say “El camino comienza en su casa” – the beginning of The Way of St. James is your home. No matter where that’s at. Today, most pilgrims focus on the more popular part of the trail beyond the Pyrenees. But there are exceptions. Beatrice wanted to try to start at her house in Lausanne, Switzerland and walk all of the 2000 km by foot. By herself. In 87 days. We asked her about the big trip and the number of blisters she racked up.
Hi Beatrice! In three words – how was it?
It was GREAT!
What did a typical day look like?
I would get up, pack my backpack, have a small breakfast, fill my water bottles, enter my daily route into komoot and off I went – in any weather. On average, I hiked 23 km a day. When I arrived at my destination of the day I took a shower, washed my clothes, took care of my feet and wrote my diary. I let my friends know what I was up to through Twitter.
The most important thing you had with you?
Good hiking boots and the right backpack! The most important thing is not to bring too much. But you don’t need a lot of things, really. My backpack weighed 8 kg only – including the water.
Did you ever think about quitting?
Of course! Every time the trail became really steep (laughs). I had a real crisis after about 1000 km, two weeks before I arrived in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. It was a rainy day, it was mid October already and I was asking myself whether it would be too cold to continue. But the closer I got to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port the more joy I felt by just continuing to walk. During the really rough days, my family also helped me a lot and motivated me to continue.
The most beautiful place during the trip?
I had a special experience in Lauzerte in France. When the sun came back after a very rainy day, another pilgrim talked me into singing an Ave Maria in the middle of the street. And all of a sudden, people started opening their windows…
Your best memory?
The people I met. The wonderful encounters, good conversations, fun evenings in the hostels, cooking together. Helping each other and receiving help from others. But also the loneliness. Nature, the smells, the sounds…simply everything.
How many blisters did you rack up?
Two or three in the beginning, which did the opposite of motivating me. But there was only one way out: Clenching my teeth and continuing. After a while, the pain subsided and I could walk without any difficulty. In Spain, I didn’t have a single blister.
You used komoot throughout the whole trip. How did it help?
Every day I would plan my daily route. Often I found a better route than the original Way of St. James with komoot. I was positively surprised that komoot knew even the tiniest villages. Also, the elevation profile was much better than the guides I had brought.
What are you doing when you are not on a pilgrimage?
I retired early in order to have enough time to fulfil my dreams. I have opened my own little art studio where I paint, sculpt and give sculpting lessons.
In September you are planning to walk the Via Francigena from Lausanne to Siena. Are you addicted to pilgrimage?
I only know two types of pilgrims: The ones who go on a pilgrimage once and never do it again. And the ones that are infected by the “pilgrim bug” and plan their next walk before they arrive at their current destination. I believe I am the latter kind.