Day Zero – Arrival in Saint Jean Pied de Port: The day Before the day

The 7th of April started early and I headed to the train station in San Sebastian with Carly, who had told me first to take one train to Hendaye, right at the border between Spain and France and then to Bayonne in France. From Bayonne I would take the last train to Saint Jean Pied de Port.. (All places mentioned is Basque country).

After a hug many thank you´s to Carly, and a few waves I was on my own. Subtle excitement began to grow as I sat in the train observing people coming in and out as well as the stations and landscape we passed. I was ready and felt good, I was where I was supposed to be and soon to begin a “real” journey walking, just like I had envisioned in my head, manifested as an image on the front cover of my book, hence my focus of my project Your Unique Journey, which focus is uniqueness and our journey in life, all soon to be pursuit in reality.

The two first train rides went smooth and when arriving in Bayonne, I had already seen people with backpacks get on the train to Saint Jean Pied de Port. The train to SJPDP was unfortunately cancelled due to water on the tracks, but a bus was substituted. It was here in Bayonne, I met the first pilgrims – some of whom I would meet many times along the path to Santiago. I had my first chat with an older American couple, where the talk began in what would become the usual start of a pilgrim conversation:

Where are you from?
How did you get to know about The Camino to Santiago?
Why are you doing it?

Jeff and Carroll were from the Seattle area in the USA. They got to know about The Camino mainly through the movie The Way. They wanted to do this to take time off civilization, be in nature and they had taken out almost two months to finish in Santiago, due to an expected slower pace.

My Pair of Reliable Friends pre-Camino

My Pair of Reliable Friends pre-Camino

Waiting on the bus outside, it was mainly people with backpacks but in all ages that had gathered. I initiated a conversation with another older looking man on my right, both of us overlooking the parking lot for the bus. He had a big seashell around his neck, a white beard, a hiking cap and looked kind. We talked for a bit and when the bus arrived and got on, he invited me to sit next to him right at the window seat in front just behind the driver.

I could not have asked for a better start on my journey towards the main starting hub on The Camino, because just a few initial questions got me the rundown of this historic pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella. Besides that, the history of how languages developed all over Europe, how and why different groups of nations and races of people looked the way they did and lived the way they did and much more… all of it was connected in odd ways of course due to natural evolution and development – which was fascinating!

What obviously was the main topic was the history of the pilgrimage to Santiago and how it originated. It was in short, due to not having a pilgrim destination anymore around the 700´s AD to Jerusalem, because the Muslims back then had taken it from the Christians. So the current arch bishop wanted to find another pilgrim destination. It became Santiago de Compostella but what was funny was the perceived myth about the whole thing, that he told me!?

He said, that the first person perceived to have taken the pilgrimage from France to Santiago de Compostella  was the current king of the time, and Saint James was the person the pilgrimage is made in the name of: “The way of St. James”, as he was the last apostle of Jesus’. His body was found, brought to Santiago and berried there, but he told me, that the time of the king’s pilgrimage, which was supposed to be the very first one, was done 100 years before the body of St. James was even found? So the reason for the kings pilgrimage, was NOT “The Way of St. James” because the body and real reason for the pilgrimage did not exist until about 100 years later!?

We first introduced each other’s names in the end of our conversation, but it was puzzling to hear Claus´s conclusion. Nonetheless I had more of a grin on my face than anything else. So, as funny as it sounds, on my way to SJPdP and this historic and religious and/or spiritual journey which has been walked for over 1000 years by millions, there is reason to believe that it is all based on a myth!? A little laughable, but at the end of the day, it did not really matter to me, but did drew another conclusion: “The reason for walking obviously does not matter, what you will get from it is the reason, yet unknown.”

Before we got off the bus, he told me about an albergue (a pilgrim hostel) named Casa Paderborn in Pamplona, that he knew about due to his past Camino experiences and told me to look that up and stay there when reaching the city that is famous for its bull run and Hemingway.

We walked together from the bus until arriving at the official pilgrim office in SJPdP, which issues the official pilgrim passports and helps you feel welcome and set up for the time to come as well as a bed for the night – I elected to start the following day. On the way there, he gave me some advice, which was to follow my own pace.  It was also here, that by donation you could receive the most important symbol for a pilgrim; the sea shall to attach to your backpack. There is a story to this too, because this is the modern way of showing you are a pilgrim. Back in the day, the sea shall was the proof that you had walked the pilgrimage all the way to the coast or “the end of the earth” and brought this back as the item to prove it with. A few people I was with choose to do this as well.

Since Spotting the First Indicate - it was like it had Begun

Since Spotting the First Indicator – it was like it had Begun

(Since spotting the first Camino path indicators – it was like it all had begun)

(The No. 39 – was the official pilgrim office that issues the pilgrim passports, sea shells, that welcomes you and help you get ready)

 

That way!

That way!

 

 

After finding my bed for the night, it was time to find a cap, a guide book and look around SJPdP – a beautiful and eclectic village with such charm. The roofs of the houses, the landscapes of the mountains around and the river that ran through underneath the many bridges, made it such an elegant place.

 

Ready to go...

Ready to go…

 

In addition I met the first pilgrims in the dormitory and talked throughout the day with Nick from Canada, who always had wanted to walk The Camino and Alfredo from Spain who was riding a bike to Santiago. We all had dinner that evening and talked thick and thin about The Camino, the Basque country where Alfredo was from, and much else… the magic had begun – bonding with fellow pilgrims.

The Narrow Streets in SJPdP

The Narrow Streets in SJPdP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After dinner, a walk with Nick around the village and up to a castle on a hill overlooking the entire village, turned into an idea to search for some of the places where the movie The Way had been filmed. The very albergue where we slept was in fact in the movie as well as a couple of the places where the main character walks around, one of them; across a bridge beginning The Camino.

Albergue ONLY for Pilgrims!

Albergue ONLY for Pilgrims! (This Building was Used in The Way – Where Tom Tells the Policeman, That he Wants his son Cremated)

The Bridge you can Spot is the one Tom Walks Across in the Movie The Way

The Bridge you can Spot is the one Tom Walks Across Starting his Camino in the Movie The Way

Looking over the village and mountains – we were trying to spot the road to begin tomorrow and also the big mountain we had heard so much about. Carroll that I met in Bayonne, told me that the week before there were two feet of snow up there and therefore closed off – Yikes!

At the same time, I was amused by being here and felt ready to begin this journey.

Views Over Saint Jean Pied de Port

Views Over Saint Jean Pied de Port

After the wandering, it was time to turn in and be-friend the pilgrim life style officially, for the first time, by sleeping in the same room with 20+ people. The same subtle excitement, that was with me on the train, was even more present within me now and it was not easy to calm down completely, knowing that tomorrow it will all begin and go straight up the 1400+ meter high mountain; Col de Lepoeder towards Roncesvalles.

 

 

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Camino Preparation

Yes, lets get it out of the way; “it has been a long time.”

I want to begin this blog by saying something, that will be an unusual and odd way to begin a blog. Especially when it is about something that has had a huge impact on my life in more ways than one and in addition have an urge to share it with the world…

The next many weeks – I would love to dive deep into how it was for me to walk The Camino to Santiago de Compostella and beyond and explain all that I can about it.

But the thing is this: I have concluded, based on my experience that it is impossible to explain to anyone what it really means to walk The Camino and have them fully understand. The simple reason is, you have to do it in order to be able to understand it. So to make sure, that I am not wasting your time with this impossibility I have decided not to write any blogs about it……

 

Anyway… enough with the sillyness! Let´s take the first steps towards Saint Jean Pied de Port and then the long journey across the Northern part of Spain. BUT… keep in mind the above, because it is the truth. You have to do this to fully understand, but I will do my absolute best to give you an idea to work with!

But first… we need to begin before it actually began, which was with a seed. Invisible seeds are sometimes planted in our heads and it is first when it has either grown or similar seeds are added, that the real significance of them becomes clear. The first and main seed was planted in the beginning of November 2011, when I watched the movie The Way. (Watch the Trailer Here) It was first in the summer of 2013 that the next seed was planted when meeting a girl in Massachusetts, who said she was going to walk it the same summer.

From there it took some talks with a friend who reminded me about The Camino and that it would fit will with my name as Journey Navigator and book Your Unique Journey. The “final” seed was planted and re-planted consistently due to finding and reading a certain book. One day I was in my former American basketball coach´s home in Denmark and I looked around his little library. Looking specifically for Paulo Coelho´s books, as I wanted to get into his stuff, and knew he would have them in English if he had any of them.

Interesting how Worlds Collide

Interesting how Worlds Collide

I picked out one, named The Pilgrimage – thinking, that the title resembles my field and interest of “journey stuff”. It was first when I began reading it, I realized it was exactly about The Camino, and during the read I finally just said to myself “I am going to do this”. This was during the first couple of months this year 2014 and it seemed, it from that point on was set in stone, that I was going to walk 800+ kilometers across Spain starting in early April.

Up until that point acquiring the necessary equipment and prepare myself mentally was my task. I had been in Denmark for over 8 months and from arrival back last summer my energy as many times before had slowly spiraled downwards. It was time to finally take a stand; to leave Denmark with the focus of living somewhere else and start a new life with motivation and confidence in believing that this time it was one-way forward. I have carried so much S#!% inside the last 2½+ years, that I saw The Camino to be that bridge between the negative and depressed past towards something new and better! This was basically the motivation for going.

Through the last month in Denmark, I grew my excitement and readiness to go and I found other things, which was positive in terms of this walk and why I believe it changes lives as it does. Through studying personal development, some psychology and how our mind etc. works for quite some time, I really liked that the journey would last at least around 30 days and possibly more. The reason was, that a deep ingrained habit within us usually takes between 26-40 days to dissolve or change, and I saw this as a sign; taking this long walk would definitely have the potential to alter something significantly due to the distance of the journey and length of time.

Besides the mental part, I prepared myself on the equipment side of things and it came to be 10kg worth in total. (The recommended weight to carry is between 6-9kgs for woman and 6-12kgs for men)

All I brought on the Journey to Santiago

All I brought on the Journey to Santiago

Description of items in image:
– 33L backpack, 1L water bottle, sleeping bag, hiking shoes, hiking pants with zip off, my signature travel shorts, light weight running clothing, a solid wind jacket, a sweat shirt, travel towel, inflatable sleeping mat, two long wool undershirts, two light weight outdoor shirts with sun protection, 3 pairs of wool socks, a hat and a pair of Vibram five finger shoes.

I had also branded myself up to promote my business and project with a few Journey Navigator T-shirts, Your Unique Journey Belt, a few of my books to pass out, a key ring with my two logos to attach on my backpack and my own Journey Navigator pen. In addition, as an avid writer I brought three notebooks and a voice recorder which sums up what made up my backpack of tools and items brought on this voyage.

 A flight to Malaga was booked for the 2nd of April, and my official start day of walking I estimated would be around April 7th. The immediate plan was to go there and leave the majority of my stuff during my time on The Camino, with a great friend’s mother, who lives in Malaga.

I only spend one full day in Malaga on the 3rd of April and headed off with the fast train all the way up north to San Sebastian the 4th. Here, I visited an English friend for the weekend, before I would head to Saint Jean Pied de Port, as it was fairly close.

A Beautiful Weekend in San Sebastian

A Beautiful Weekend in San Sebastian

The weekend was spend in company with Carly, I met on my way up to Broome from Perth in Australia over 3 years ago. She lives and works in San Sebastian now, which is a coastal city out to the Atlantic- a pretty and vibrant place. Being there was a nice way to prepare myself for the journey ahead, as I only had the stuff I would use on The Camino, so I got a chance to familiarize myself with the 10kg backpack and equipment.

It did not take long before April 7th arrived and in the early morning I headed to the train towards Saint Jean Pied de Port. Finally it was the day before the day…..

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Next blog is coming up within a week to 10 days!

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A Note Before The Camino Experience

I don´t have to say, that it has been a long time since you have read and/or seen a blog from me. I know, that professional marketers and people who promote the heck out of all kinds of stuff, might not find my strategy of blogging one time in 6-7 months and then do it, only once more before being off line for 5-6 weeks the most effective way of making people able to follow a blog.

The fact of the matter is, that there has not been a lot of inspiration and experiences to share…

until now… even though it all is way ahead of me; A new adventure is upon me, and on April 2nd, I will be leaving Denmark yet again. The immediate plan is first to go to Malaga in Spain, for a quick spell and to just leave the majority of my possessions, before I will head north to walk The Camino to Santiago.

All I am bringing on the journey to Santiago.

All I am bringing on the journey to Santiago.

The first time that the inspiration about this historic pilgrimage entered my life, was when I watched the movie The Way in early November 2011 with a former girl friend. It is interesting, because since then, and especially over the last 9-10 months a lot of hints from people and situations lead me to finally decide, that this pilgrimage will be an important experience for me.

Description of items in image:
– 33L backpack, 1L water bottle, sleeping bag, hiking shoes, hiking pants with zip off, my signature travel shorts, a light weight running clothing, a solid wind jacket, travel towl, sleeping mat, two long wool undershirts, two light weight outdoor shirts with sun protection, 3 pairs of wool socks and a hat.

I have also branded myself up to promote my business and project with a few Journey Navigator T-shirts, Your Unique Journey Belt, a few of my books to pass out, a key ring with my two logos to attach on my backpack and my own Journey Navigator pen. In addition, as an avid writer I have brought three notebooks and a voice recorder which sums up what will make up my backpack of tools and items to bring on this voyage.

The route will begin in Saint Jean Pied de Port, in the South of France and end after 500miles/800km in Santiago in the North West part of Spain, which I see as a bridge between what, I in my past, want to leave behind and embrace looking forward to all the great opportunities on the other side of that bridge. It is no surprise to many who know me well, that close to the last three years has been the toughest period of my life. It has been so destructive and difficult, that I at times was in such a mode where living was not experienced and death was a more lucrative thought.

I want that period of time to be be wisdom-reminder, that our journey in life brings us through deep valleys and help us become more aware and sensitive to when we need to pay attention to what does and doesn’t  serve us.

The Camino experience will be a journey, that resembles life´s longer journey. As you might know, it is said, that any habit takes between 26-40 days to change, and what I like about the length of the pilgrimage to Santiago is, that it will at least take around 30 days in total. I am interested to see what this will mean, and how different I will come out on the other side given the length as well as many hours spend walking every day. Maybe the reason why this is a profound experience, for so many, is the change in yourself, that happens because of the mix between the length and intense time spend with yourself and that the result is the realization that the resemblance to ones actual life becomes clearer through it?

How about I let you know, what my answer to that question is after.

Many wants to follow me on this quest, in terms of what I experience, how the landscape looks, stories about all the fellow pilgrims I will meet along the way, and much else, but I have decided that I will be off line during the time on The Road. I will, however, document anything I feel like and share it with you after my arrival to civilization and the virtual universe, so look forward to that!

Leading up to the adventure of The Camino, I have asked myself the question; what will happen and what will I get out of this journey? – I have thought about the possible outcomes like, letting go of pain and the darkness in the past, personal insights, the opportunity for networking, interesting conversations and experiences with fellow pilgrims and on the list of thoughts go… but there is no defining answer. It´s like, that in the horizon of this answer, there is an imagery of something that is pure, and very clear, yet far from being concrete.

During the early part of my travels, I learned to have faith in the unknown, to know that things will always work out and be okay regardless of the situation. Much to my dismay, that seemed to have been more or less destroyed over the last 2½+ years, but I see this upcoming adventure as the chance to reclaim what I learned… and the only way in doing so and to get to know if that it will give me that, is by taking one foot in front of the other, beginning in Saint Jean Pied de Port until I reach Santiago de Compostela.

Until I do, and until I am back online to share it all with you, wish me “Buen Camino” and in return I will send you good and encouraging thoughts from The Road with my wish for your journey in life, which is that, “if you want to go somewhere you have not gone before you have to do something you have not done before.”

All my best,
Gideon

Until next time...

Until next time…

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Brothers in Arms – Together in Denmark

Please, check out and LIKE Ben´s Facebook page, Here!

All my best on your continued journey!

Gideon

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Following your heart: Is that a choice?

As some of you may know, I have written a book and if you have it, you might have gotten to the last chapter, which is about following our heart.

In recent time I have had a lot of thoughts about this idea of following our heart and also if it really IS a choice or simply something we follow because of what we feel.

I have had many conversations, written about it and studied much within the concept and it seems to me, that I at least have come to my own conclusion that choice is very relative to say the least, and might not be other than a grand illusion in our life and in the universe at large.

Some days ago my youngest brother came to me and wanted to ask me a question. He asked me, if I believed we have free choice as human beings. He had seen a video with a science experiment ; where there was a guy hooked up to some equipment and put in a scanner that could measure and see what was happening in the persons brain. The person was laying down and all he had to do was to click a button on either his right or left hand. The person in charge of the experiment was able to predict 6 seconds in advance, what choice he would make every single time. Knowing full well what the person in the experiment would do or choose at all times. Scary isn’t it? My brother was a little scared of that. He has a great desire to understand, which I can clearly understand, in terms of if we have free choice or not. Because if we believe that we do have free will and we actually don’t, then we live in an illusion and that is way scary! ( The Video-link is right here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-i3AiOS4nCE&feature=youtu.be )

For instance, let´s say we don’t have free choice. What might come to mind next might be, that our life then must be destined. I don’t like the word destiny, because it sounds like our life is doomed before hand and it has a destructive connotation to it.

From the information I have gathered through studying in addition to my life experience, there is something to it, but I don’t see this as a destiny, but what the Buddhist tradition refers to as Dharma.
They say that a bird has a Dharma as well as a tree and it comes down to that everything in nature has its way and when we live out our Dharma, we live a fulfilled life.

Following our heart is a way to describe Dharma I believe. When we follow an emotion about something that we are passionate about, something that gives us direction because we love to do whatever it might be, I don’t believe that this is a choice. Depending on what words and perception you use, I see this as a heartfelt emotion that we follow, but also something that might be pulling us or guiding us in a direction that has fulfillment as the “end”-objective.

So when we follow our heart that is not a choice, what is it we are guided by? What is it that pulls us in this direction that we are headed?

When talking about energy as electricity, electricity can only go from a higher to a lower vibration to work and not the other way around. According to scientists within the study of quantum physics, everything is energy, everything is vibrating, and everything is essentially ONE with everything on the most fundamental level. I believe this is a way we can see, that whatever this greatness and vastness of energy that we are all one with is, if that is pulling us, it must be because we people on this planet is on a lower level of vibration and energy, than whatever is bigger than us. It therefore naturally guides us towards that higher vibration of energy that has many names, but I choose to use the word fulfillment as that word in this blog.

The point and answer I am trying to make in regards to the title-question if following our heart is a choice, I don’t believe it is. I do believe that while we know this, that our consciousness that we have as human beings makes us able to experience life and what we follow as something new and exciting. When we do, the more we do and the more we get into alignment with this Dharma of ours, we are simply following our hearts way towards fulfillment as a human being and I don’t think we want to have a choice in that matter.

I personally believe it is about following it…

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Back Home

Check out Landmark here: www.landmarkworldwide.com

See me on the far left.

See me on the far left.

The awesome crew!

The awesome crew!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time...

Until next time…

 

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Brothers in Arms at Walden Pond

Replica of Thoreau´s House

Replica of Thoreau´s House

Replica of Thoreau´s House From a Distance

Replica of Thoreau´s House From a Distance

Thoreau had a  way of Putting his Words

Thoreau had a way of Putting his Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A writer that wanted to live as simple as possible

A writer that wanted to live as simple as possible

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rocks on the Left are supposedly the rocks that used to be the chimney.

The Original Place of The House by the Pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Moving on From Vermilion

 

IMG_0236

Check out the Whole Life Expo Conference, Here!
Mister White Movie Trailer, Here!

Vincent Genna´s Links:
Go to his Facebook profile, Here!
LIKE his Facebook page, Here!
His Website: http://vincentgenna.com/

LIKE Pay it Forward Radio´s Facebook Page, Here!
Go to Kathy Bacon´s Website, Here!

Order my books through Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
You can also order a signed copy right, Here!

Thank you all for your support!

My best on your journey,
Gideon

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The Journey Continues Up North



Get a signed copy of my book, Here! 

Or get it on one of the two Amazon-pages:
For North & South America, Here!
For Europe & other places go, Here!

Sign up on my Pay it Forward List, Here!

Go to the Whole Life Expo, Here!

Go to Vincent Genna´s Facebook Business and LIKE it, Here!
Go and Friend him on Facebook too right, Here!

Thanks for your continued support!

Thank you for being part of my journey,
may you be well and safe on yours.

Gideon

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Update From Orlando

Hi all!

Yes, I will try my way with a written blog this time. Not sure how it will go and if you all will get through it, since I have made you accustomed to video blogs, but I guess we will have to see! 🙂

First of all I want to ask you for a favor… Go to the following website and vote on this great organization called CAT, which stands for Chicago Adventure Therapy, Here!
That will help them in a huge way when it comes to developing and expand their program that helps youth in great ways!

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“Chicago Adventure Therapy works with under-served Chicago youth using outdoor sports to build life skills. In 5 years we’ve worked with1,000 young people facing myriad risk factors including poverty, homelessness and gang involvement. One young woman said, “I have learned to be a better person at home in the streets and everywhere else I go. I recommend this program to anyone who is struggling.” We want to help our young people earn internationally recognized certifications that will make them employable in the outdoor industry. To do this successfully we need to expand our fleet of boats.”
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Secondly, the update on the journey is that I am settling in, in the outskirts of Orlando. I am spending a lot of time with my good friend Ben, getting to know him better, the way he lives, meet his friends, spend time on his boat and have some good conversation. In about 8 days I will head to Ohio as I am going to Vermilion in Ohio because I was an exchange student there about 10 years ago. I am attending a wedding with my American sister from the family I stayed with that year. I look forward to be a part of such a family gathering and to be back in the town I consider home.

I then have a conference to go to in Chicago in early June, where Vincent Genna, who wrote the foreword to my book is speaking. He has invited me to be part of his program towards the very end, so that will be interesting and important to getting myself and my book out there, and my first opportunity to maybe speak for more than 100 people.

After that first weekend in June in Chicago, I am actually unsure about where life is taking me at the moment. I guess it is one of those times where I will see where the flow of life takes me.

Throughout it all, it is about networking, get my book around, I will be on 4 interviews, speak before a live audience 1-2 times probably and all in all establish what I do as a foundation for the future. I look forward to this journey within the main journey and I look forward to share what happens with you all.

Be sure to sign up on my mailing list on my website and receive a free chapter of my book: www.journey-navigator.com

Thank you so much for following me and supporting me in my life – I hope I will have the chance to contribute to your life, if I am not already am doing so.

Let me know at anytime how I can help you on your journey, I will be happy in doing so in any way it is possible. Simply write me an email at: gideonnielsen@gmail.com

My very best on your journey,
Gideon

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