And so, to Canterbury. It seems fitting that I should be spending the summer of 2022 here, in what was once a major pilgrimage destination, while training for another go at the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain. There’s good, ancient pilgrim karma here.
I’m staying at the same beautiful Airbnb that I stayed in back in 2020. Canterbury is a nice little town and the manageable summer tourist-season crowds are a welcome sign of post-pandemic economic recovery. I have a relaxing view of the river and a wildlife area from my balcony, yet I’m within easy walking distance of all the local amenities and sights.
Canterbury is also a nexus of national biking and hiking trails, making it ideal for my training purposes. The (so far) mild English summer was also one of the reasons I selected this town.
The question has come up: isn’t one Camino enough, why are you doing it again? Well, the perfectionist in me wants to do it again while applying all the lessons learned from my first trek in 2019. And I suppose I think that I’ll be better able to appreciate the experience, absent so many of the unknowns of the first time. Finally, it was a fantastic, life-altering experience; who wouldn’t want to do it again?
Briefly, my training includes weight work in the gym most mornings and hikes most afternoons. I’m slowly building my hiking distances and have the luxury of being able to experiment with a range of gear and strategies. The Camino is not a marathon – my average daily walk in Spain will be but 12 miles – but it does require mental and physical toughness to do it day after day for more than seven weeks, through sun and rain, heat and cold. I’m building that here and I’m all in. My next Camino begins August 29th.
Although England is behaving as if COVID is over, case counts are really climbing here. Same for Europe, with the French openly referring to a “7th Wave” now. I’m aware that my two vaccinations and two boosters may not protect me, so I’m taking a very conservative approach: I still wear a mask indoors in public (yes, including at the gym), I still only eat at restaurants with outdoor seating, and I still practice social distancing. It will be a challenge in the communal settings of the Camino hostels.
Over the next month or so, I’ll be back-filling my posts here. If you want to see what we’ve been up to for the last nine months prior to coming to England, check them out. Marti and I were in Barcelona, Cyprus, Greece, Paris, and the U.S. during our travels. Cheers.