I definitely recommend using net sacks for keeping your clothing sorted. We used plastic and the "eau de pilgrim" gets overpowering after a couple of weeks. The net sacks allow for ventilation and they are less noisy than plastic.
Learn as much Spanish as you can. Though most (not all) pilgrims from non-English speaking countries do speak English, and you can make yourself understood to most business proprietors, our experience was so enriched by Cullen's ability to converse with the locals and the Spanish pilgrims in their language.
My boots were 1 1/2 sizes bigger than my normal shoe. I would definitely go with 2 sizes bigger to accommodate the one foot that is bigger than the other (this is probably true for most people). I believe this is the reason I had trouble with the toes on my right foot. It is definitely the bigger of my two feet.
Pilgrim etiquette - Like anyplace else, there are people who don't behave well. Don't worry about it.
What We Liked Best:
- The simple life.
- Running into familiar pilgrims.
- Making new friends, especially Dieter, Becky, Christine and Billy, Ants and Rebecca, Kaija, Patricia and the three amigos, Tomas, Enrique and Luis!
- The big sky of the Meseta.
- The hospitaleros in CastroJeriz, who put on a Quemada ceremony, sang "Amazing Grace" in Spanish while preparing the Quemada and sang Auld Lang Syne in Spanish as we walked off in the morning down the deserted street.
- The Pilgrim's mass at the convent in Astorga and the priest asking us to carry the prayers of the sister's to Santiago.
- Starting each day with our Pilgrim Prayer.
- Introducing other Pilgrims, especially our Kiwi Kids, to the Sol y Sombra.
- The great, swinging incense burner at mass in the Cathedral de Santiago, knowing so many others, over so many years experienced the same thing.
- The appreciation the old Spaniards show the pilgrims and their calls of "Buen Camino".
- Last, but certainly not least, the Spanish Bars where you know you're going to have a great cup of coffee.
Most Surprising (in a not so good way):
- The number of meals (Pilgrim meals and meals of the day) which included french fries as a side dish.
- The number of Spaniards, old and young who smoke cigarettes and the enormous amount of cigarette smoke in bars and restaurants.
- The villages that seemed deserted, as if no one was living there.
- The significant number of dogs kept on short chains.
- The amount of manure on The Way..cow, dog, bird.