Oveido

Saint Jean Pied de Port to Hendaye then Hondarribia to Oveido

This section wasn’t strictly the Compostela/ Camino. One of our hosts who only allowed you to stay if you carried your pack the whole way told us it would be fine to do this by train, but while we intended to take it a bit easier we walked.

The weather was extraordinary. An early summer had hit the region. No snow and brilliant blue skies and 28 C (75 F). In Biddarray on the first night, we went to Hotel Ostape (amazing. We did take the golf cart down the drive) and I even went swimming. Lush green pasture, rugged mountains and people that seemed to think we should speak Basque. Certainly, if you strayed a meter over the border they no longer spoke French and we hadn’t got our Spanish phrase book yet.

Aubrac

Le Puy to Saint Jean Pied de Port

This section, on the Le Puy Camino, took us to the wind swept plains of the Aubrac. Cold, I got frostbite on my nose which took weeks to heal but no snow and so we were able to cross through one of the worst marked sections. Thankfully we had a GPS and a thermos.

Le Puy Camino

Le Chemin de St Jacques – Cluny to Le Puy

It seemed we were destined to walk the Camino. Well, in retrospect. I had six months long service leave and we had a house in France. Okay we could have stayed and enjoyed the local food, wine and terroire but from the first time we saw the scallop shell on a lamp post in Tramayes, which our house is on the outskirts of, we were hooked. Enough to do a one day course back home that told us the dos and don’ts of the Camino, to buy some books and watch a video or two.

Sunset on el Camino

Camino de Santiago Poem

We trained for months to walk the trail
Got all the guide books in the mail
We knew that we would never fail
el Camino de Santiago.

Hiking and smiling

Le Puy to Santiago on Bad Shoes, Meeting Good Friends

I was three weeks into my Camino from Le Puy when I first considered giving up. On a cobbled road outside an organic snack shop in rural France, I pulled out a rickety iron chair set out for patrons and started taking off my shoes. Slowly, slowly, using both hands, I lifted them off my feet and peeled off my socks. I hadn’t fully understood the severity of my predicament until my feet were out of my shoes, which were far too tight and damp.

Camino Frances

Camino de Santiago Frances Overview

On July 8th of this year, I set out from St Jean Pied du Port to walk the infamous Camino Frances. I had a return ticket booked for five weeks later and I dreamed of finishing my walk at the Atlantic Ocean in Finisterre. As I packed my bag before my departure I was excited for the unknown. I was excited for the physical and mental challenges that lay ahead of me.

To be honest, I really did not know what to expect. Friends, colleagues and different internet blogs gave me an insight into what they experienced but for me I set off on a very wet and cloudy day across the Pyrenees not knowing what The Way would bring.

Tortilla

I Walked the Camino de Santiago as a Vegan and you can too

In May and June, (2012), I walked along with my husband, the Camino de Santiago as a vegan as well as sugar and gluten free. I spent a good amount of time before leaving on the internet looking for information about being vegan on the Camino…but to no avail. So, I decided to keep notes of what I ate during our trip to help others with this challenge. Because I have a minor problem with wheat and other gluten products, I was also very conscious of the details of how I remained this way for 99% of my Camino. I have been a vegan for about 15 years.

Oseira Monastery

Ruta Via de la Plata, A Very Rough Guide

Many are aware that the Camino de Santiago is an ancient Christian pilgrims route with Santiago de Compostela as its final destination.  What most folk don’t realise until they’ve been and walked the Way, is that it’s only one of many pilgrimage route to Santiago.

Each Camino de Santiago has its own name; thus the most popular route which enters from the SW of France is known as the Camino Francès.

Finisterre

Westward, to the World’s End

We have come to the end of the world, my shadow, my backpack, my blisters and I.

For here at Cape Finisterre, this wind-whipped westernmost spit of Spain, European travellers once came timidly to stand at the end of all known lands and gaze at a horizon that held behind it horrors and mysteries beyond imagining. Here, in the Middle Ages, before the great Discoverers set sail into the unknown, their world ended.

Villa in Spain

Camino de Santiago – Hermit or Not?

I met Mathias a day or so before Pamplona. He looked very strange with his dreadlocks, tiny rucksack and guitar. He almost had the homeless look about him, but he was young, perhaps mid-twenties.

We talked and I found out he was German, but had not lived there for several years. He had left, moving to Spain to work in a tourist resort, something that he ended up hating. So he became a hermit – that was the short story that I got, I am sure there was more.

Train station house

First Fears at St Jean Pied de Port

This is the view that most pilgrims first get of St Jean Pied de Port as they get off the train. I remember it quite clearly, I was wondering what was ahead of me. I had not read much about the Camino before heading off there for a month, my flat mate and college friend had been my sole source of information.

Gorilla

Camino Pilgrims Should Be ‘Entrepreneurial’

“You want to be as entrepreneurial as possible,” I advise aspiring pilgrims. And I often get quizzical looks with this advice. Entrepreneurial? What in the world is he talking about?

Let me say right away that this has absolutely nothing to do with anything so crass as actual pursuit of money (Given that I’m American, I thought that was a necessary disclosure!). No, what I’m referring to is a pilgrim’s actual mindset. Because the question I receive time and again is, ‘Who do you decide to hike with’? And for those of you who have read my Camino narrative, The Best Way, you are aware that I consider the astoundingly diverse cast of characters that populate the Camino de Santiago–especially the Camino Frances–to be the greatest part of the entire Camino experience.

St Jacques

The Compostela Trail in Brittany

Brittany formed an important stage on the journey to Compostela for medieval pilgrims travelling from Ireland and southern England or even further afield. The main points of entry were Le Conquet on the Atlantic coast in the west, and on the Channel coast, St-Pol-de-Léon and Locquirec in Finistere, Paimpol in Côtes d’Armor and Mont St-Michel, which is now in Normandy but was once within the Breton boundary before the course of the river Couesnon changed.

Roof tops in the hill

Back at My Desk After Walking Le Puy to Conques

We finished our short walk on the Le Puy Camino, Chemin de Saint Jacques, last Sunday evening – I was glad to get into Conques as my feet had been killing me the whole way.  This is not a route for walking shoes, boots should have been the choice, I know now.

shoe sculpture

Walking into Santiago de Compostela

I walked into Santiago de Compostela, the same way that thousands of pilgrims have done before me. The biggest surprise was being there so quickly on the day I arrived. We walked through Monte del Gozo, only stopping for lunch, and continued down into the city. We had made plans to meet with another pilgrim and they had sent us a text message telling us where they were staying.

Jakobsweg

Rabanal del Camino, Spain

The four of us (Bob, Rowena, Chard and me) have now completed more than half our tour of duty here in Rabanal.  We are scheduled for departure one week from today and are all a bit nostalgic about it.  We agree that the experience has been good for each of us and take great pleasure from the fact that the vast majority (maybe all) of the pilgrims passing through our doors have left us with smiles on their faces and warmth in their hearts.

Charlemagne set

The Charlemagne Chess Set

Charlemagne was King of the Franks and the first Holy Roman Emperor. Born in 742 AD, he was a medieval king renowned for his accomplishments and charisma. For forty-seven years, King Charlemagne ruled most of western and central Europe.

Scenery

Hooked on the Camino

I wonder if there if something that for many of us we do not get from our daily life.  I have met and talked to many people who have walked the Camino Frances more than once.  Walking the Camino Frances is a fairly big commitment in the way of time and money.

I got thinking on this yesterday while out hill walking in the Wicklow Hills.  I notice a Santiago de Compostela badge attached to one of the walkers back packs.  I asked, as I have a tendency to do.

backpack

Dara Haskins

Dara Haskins was my friend. He died, on the 18th Aug 2005 aged just 30, while I was walking the Camino in 2005. It was due to him that I found out about the Camino. He used to go on about this bloody walk in northern Spain. To me it did not sound like fun, but hell. The idea of walking every day for weeks, no room to myself, sharing in hostels with many others – not a way I thought to spend a precious summer. Eventually he convinced me. I had many misgivings about the whole idea, but I set off to start from St Jean in southern France. My life has changed as the result of this and, I suppose therefore, because of Dara. It does sound strong to say life changing, but for a cynic like me it has been.

Backpack

Foot Care on the Camino

The first time I walked the Camino I had no idea about foot care, I had never walked for more than a few days before and that had been when I was much younger. I walked a couple of long walks in my boots before heading off on the Camino and I got some blisters on the heals of both feet, they healed and left some hard skin around the heels, but I never though that would cause me a problem – it did – and a very bad one.

Scroll to Top