Voices on the Camino – 2020
It has been the strangest of years for all of us. We’ve steered a gentle course over the past few months opting to take the safe route until we come out the other side. Our policy has been to work with existing ‘pods’ of people rather than create groups from individual inquiries as we would have done in the past. What we lost in out on in numbers, we more than made up for in the quality of the few groups that we hosted in the latter end of the summer. This month’s blog is written by the people who have shared the path with us in 2020. They capture what our Camino is all about in ways we never could. Those who visit want something a little different. Waterford provides the perfect backdrop to make this happen.
“We did a one day gentle Camino with Phil and Elaine in July. We initially arranged this for my dad who’s nearly 70 to give him a little day out. Little did we know we were all going to absolutely love it, from my nephew who’s 15 to myself and my sisters all in our 30’s… we had such a fun day. The tour itself was so relaxed, we got to see so much even with the plans changing slightly to suit the Irish weather. It was memorable from start to finish. Aside from the beautiful scenery, Elaine and Phil made everyone seem so at ease we could all just be ourselves and enjoy every minute. We laughed all day!!” (Liz, Blanchardstown)
“The Waterford Camino was an experience I did not expect. I thought I was going away for a few days holidays with the girls but it was much more than that. I came back a more relaxed person. I would like to thank you both for an amazing 4 days. I have been on a lot of holidays over the years but these 4 days I will never forget. I will always hold on to the memories of the stunning places you brought us to and the nuggets of history really brought these places to life. The whole experience gave me an inner peace and made me appreciate family and friends. I hope to do another Camino with you both.” (Breda, Celbridge)
“In September 2020, we had the pleasure of spending a weekend away in Waterford organised by Waterford Camino Tours. It was such an amazing action-packed weekend. It was perfect in every way; we walked a number of sections of the Waterford Greenway, mountain trekked to Mahon Falls, had ice-cream on Tramore Beach, jumped in off the diving board at the Guillamene, swam with the seal in Portally Beach, walked the coastal path in Dunmore East, dinners, lunches and drinks, and finished off with lunch on a boat with the lovely Brendan from Dunmore Boat Trips where we caught lobster and released them back to the sea. While fitting so much into 2 days, there were plenty of moments of pure relaxation where we soaked up all the beauty around us. It was no trouble to Phil and Elaine to cater for gluten-free meals at all cafes and restaurants we stopped at along the way. They couldn’t do enough for us. They are a wonderful couple to be around and it was my absolute pleasure to spend the weekend with them. I am looking forward to doing the St. Declan’s Way Camino with them next Spring.” (Audrey, Dublin)
“Without question our weekend with Waterford Camino Tours was one of the most enjoyable, inspiring, fun and thought-provoking experiences in my life. 3 weeks on and I am still on a ‘high’, enjoying even more my hikes and time in nature and excite about my plans to expand my career horizons in a new, fulfilling direction. We went to Waterford as great friends and we left with an even closer bond strengthened by shared experiences, adventures, inspirational stories and anecdotes, lots of laughter and even a few (joyful) tears. I would highly recommend the Waterford Camino for anyone who wants to re-new, re-focus, re-energise, re-connect through inner connection and time in spectacular scenery and nature. Oh yes and the food and craic is mighty. This is a recipe for wellness and happiness. Get in on the secret sauce…” (Sinead Gaynor, Gaynor Training and Development Limited)
“Well what can I say about our Waterford Camino experience. From the warmest of welcomes given to our group from Phil and Elaine to our sad farewell on the Sunday evening to meet again in the future! We walked, sat, chatted, laughed and were still together so many times throughout the weekend. What better way to spend your weekend travelling the beautiful treks of Waterford surrounded by the beauty of nature and listening to such inspirational thoughts and words so appropriately gathered by Phil. We cannot forget the plentiful coffee and cake, wonderful lunches, exceptional boat trip with tapas and meeting the lovely locals of Tramore, Dunmore East and Kilmacthomas. We all need days like this and I for one am planning on making it an annual event!” (Cathy, Dublin)
“I left the busy city behind and met people I didn’t know
But this was brave for me, but I sought something different, something new
A myriad of options appealed but a beach walk invited me most
We gathered, were welcomed and set off on our way
We didn’t introduce ourselves, I liked that, we stopped at points of interest
Our host, a font of knowledge, was informative yet unassuming, passionate but with pace
Suddenly I was intrigued by those around me, we each had a story
Our voices were swept by the wind to a busy blue sky
Soon we smelt the salt, right there and then time moved from mood to moment
The sand was warm and comforting, the breeze was cool and kissed our faces
I was awake, I was aware.
We didn’t need to sing, we had music in our hearts
Our souls were now tuned by the salty touch of empowerment.
Alarms wake us, cities call us, like the tide being tugged towards the moon
I become aware of all I forgot to value. I’m glad I have, for me.”
“It was an absolute pleasure doing our lovely walks and listening to your knowledge of the local history. We really enjoyed it and left us with a peace and a sense of wellbeing with the world. We saw beautiful places and we all came home refreshed and relaxed. You couldn’t have looked after us any better. I haven’t stopped talking about our Camino with you since we came back. Can’t wait for the next one.” (Angela, Leixlip)
“I have been thinking back on all the wonderful days we’ve had thus far with the Peace Choir and all the memorable places we’ve been. It has been such a great voyage. All were a Camino of sorts and the memories are a great source of comfort in these difficult times. I’ve really experienced the strength and support there is in numbers and yet how we are all so individual. The Camino we did during the summer was a very enjoyable day despite my physical limitations at that time. With the encouragement of Phil and Elaine, I was able to let go of the struggle of trying to keep up. I accepted instead where I was and it took me down a different path with another group of fabulous people. I truly had a magical day. With warmest wishes and gratitude.” (Mary, Tullow)
“Saving the best ‘til last, our final day sees us fall head over heels for the Comeragh mountains, or more specifically, our guides, husband and wife duo, Phil and Elaine of Waterford Camino Tours. We take on a gradual 4km climb, from the base of Crough Woods up to the Mahon Falls, where bleating sheep and shaded hillsides open up to an amphitheatre of age-old rock, the star of which is the cascading waterfall… closing my eyes and allowing the water to lap gently around my toes it is very much an ‘eat pray love’ moment. I feel centred, still. And this is to the core of what this wonderful couple do. In their own words “it is not about covering vast distances; it’s more taking the time to soak in the beauty and peace of all that we pass along the way.” Guided by this power couple, we then laughed our way along the old railway line which runs against the towering backdrop of the Comeragh mountains and opens up the stunning vistas across the Celtic Sea… it was very much the company that made our experience all the more enjoyable. We’ve even promised to go back to sample the plethora of walking trails Phil and Elaine offer.” (Denise Smith, Travel Writer ‘Sunday World’)
When you’ve the right companion on the journey, you’re home before you know it! We’ve never been called a “power couple” before, but, right now, we’ll take it! We all need words of encouragement from time to time. No matter how strong or how assured you may be, there will be moments in life when everything does not flow as favourably as you would like. Read the signs and be ready to adapt. It’s amazing the power of a kind word. It can lift you up and help you to appreciate what matters most. We’ve been privileged to walk our Camino with really sound people. They lead us in ways they do not even realise. For that we are truly grateful.
We have our plans in place now for 2021. We see the domestic market as key to our business over the coming year with the International market opening up again hopefully from Spring 2022. Our website www.waterfordcamino.com has recently been re-modelled to reflect our unique offerings for 2021. We are excited about the year ahead and are delighted to have many Irish groups already signed up for our signature St. Declan’s Way Camino that we will launch next Spring. For further information, email Phil and Elaine directly on firstname.lastname@example.org