Canadian Wanderers on the Camino

On Valentine’s Day, we add another Camino Love story to the collection. Rob and his wife walked the Camino Francés in 2015. I knew him first as “Canadian Wander” on the Camino de Santiago UK forum, and like every Canadian I’ve met, his interactions are positive and friendly. He recalls his reluctance to the idea of walking, but, with the help of his adventure-seeking wife, Rob eventually became a Camino convert.  Enjoy!

Continue reading

Love: Chemistry and Commitment in Equal Measure

A Camino Love Story by James Portelli

James is a guest contributor to The Camino Provides, and also the author of  the new book Camino de Santiago: Microcosm of Life.  I walked the Camino Primitivo in 2018 with James and his wife Rituccia after visiting them in Malta. Their love for walking predates their encounter with the Camino de Santiago. But embarking on their first Camino signaled a new phase in the journey together, and resulted in the birth of XirCammini, a voluntary organization focusing on ancient Caminos in Europe. It is an honor to add their unique love storywhich  spans continents and decadesto the collection of Camino love stories featured on this blog.

Love: Chemistry and Commitment in Equal Measure
By James Portelli

Love is essentially woven into the route of the journey called life.

It is life’s greatest adventure. It is often at the root of our uphill struggles and is one’s walking sticks on a steep downhill or slippery slope. It is our support when we falter. Love guides one through the quagmire. It casts certainty at a crossroad, and yet, imbues hesitation and introspection where fools rush in.

Love is a waymark by the side of one’s road guiding us on the journey.

Love is in the youthful exhilaration when peaks are conquered and rewarded with panoramas of what lay behind and what lies ahead.

Some pilgrims on this journey are truly blessed and I count myself among them.  Love is embodied in our companion on this journey called life; a companion that walks sometimes with us and beside us, sometimes ahead, and at other times behind. Whether walking physically together or journeying apart, we are never absent in mind and heart.

Through love joy multiplies.

May 2016 Finisterre at the "0" km Waymark

May 2016 Finisterre at the “0” km Waymark

Continue reading

Pilgrims Share How They Pack for the Camino

I am delighted to feature another post by the vivacious red-headed wanderluster from the UK, Sheree Hooker, author of Winging the World blog.  She was one of 21 pilgrims interviewed about packing for the Camino by the Packing Goods website. You might remember Sheree from her guest post last month, Camino Reflections by an Awkward British Wanderluster. Read her tips below, one of which I disagree with (can you guess which one?). But this is a lesson about choice of gear—what works for some pilgrims, doesn’t necessarily work for others. When a pilgrim is planning what to pack for their first Camino, the options and advice can be overwhelming. In the end, it’s up to each pilgrim to decide what he or she will pack. Still, it’s good to take a sneak peak into the backpacks of other pilgrims!

How I packed for the Camino
By Sheree Hooker

Sheree at a Santiago entrance sign

Sheree at a Santiago entrance sign

Continue reading

Camino Reflections by an Awkward British Wanderluster

I’m happy to feature a guest post by fellow travel blogger Sheree, who recently walked the Camino Francés with her partner Tim.  The self-proclaimed “awkward British wanderluster” writes, “I don’t really know where I’m going, but that’s never stopped me before.”  I can definitely relate to being awkward and having a serious case of wanderlust! It’s an interesting take on the pilgrimage, and even more evidence that the Camino provides.

Camino Reflections
By Sheree

When my boyfriend Tim first told me that he wanted to walk the French Way of the Camino de Santiago, I wasn’t really all that surprised. Eight years before this declaration, he had suffered a spinal cord injury during a motorcycle accident and had been told he would never walk again. Luckily, after several months he took his first steps (for the second time) and began a new chapter in his life.

When Tim asked me to partner him on his Camino journey, I instantly agreed. At the time, I knew only the bare bones of what the Camino was about but as I thought that the decision would probably never come to fruition, I thought very little about accepting the invite. After a few months, it became evident that Tim was serious about undertaking the journey.

Continue reading

Celebrating Saint James Day

The Apostle James, the reason for the Camino pilgrimage, is celebrated throughout the world on July 25th, his designated saint’s day.  In Santiago de Compostela, Saint James is honored in a spectacular way on July 24th, with fireworks and a multimedia show in the Praza do Obradoiro. Below are some photos of this year’s show, courtesy of Robert Anderson, pilgrim from South Africa.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Check out this mesmerizing video:

Robert and Darren Combrink are currently walking to Finisterre to complete their epic Camino and fundraiser for Walking For Life.  Bravo guys! Buen Camino!

Meanwhile, closer to home

All over America, pilgrims celebrate St. James Day in different ways. Bay Area pilgrims started on Saturday, July 21st with an urban Camino in San Francisco. The 12-mile trek began near Ocean Beach and continued through the Sunset neighborhood on Santiago Street, up to Mt. Davidson (SF’s highest peak), through the Mission district to St. James church for a mass and pilgrim blessing. We ended the day with tapas, paella, and sangria at at Spanish restaurant. Here’s the video created with MapMyHike and Relive Apps:

For those who missed it, you can follow our footsteps and do this walk any time. And this coming weekend is when he church is actually celebrating Saint James Day!
July 28, noon – 3 pm meditation stations.
July 29, 10:30 mass, followed by BBQ.  Here’s a snapshot of the bulletin announcement.

Saint James Catholic Church is located at: Guerrero St & 23rd St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Feast of Saint James Day Potluck & Blessing

On Wednesday, July 25th, our NorCal APOC chapter hosted a Feast of St. James Potluck at Corpus Christi church in Piedmont, with a presentation about Saint James and a blessing for departing pilgrims. I wanted to have a special event in the East Bay, and my parish was the perfect place to have it. The church is located on Saint James Drive, after all!

Double click on photos below to see larger version and read captions.

The Camino Provides Patch Special: 7 for $25

I decided to extend a special deal on patches through July 31.
St. James Day flash sale: Buy 7 patches for just $25 and get free shipping!

It is fun to give patches to friends and pilgrims on the Camino or back at home as a way to commemorate their Caminos. See all patches at Etsy.com/shop/caminoprovides. 
UPDATE: If you missed out on this special, it will be offered again next July for St. James Day. The best deal now is the Buy 12, get 3 free, mix and match, free stickers.

Message from American Pilgrims on the Camino

Below you will find a message from the APOC Board of Directors:

Continue reading

Camino Primitivo Stages

I wanted to do something special for my 50th year, and this three-part trip is what I came up with. First, my mom and I enjoyed our 8th annual mother-daughter trip; this time we chose a tour of Sicily and Malta. Second, I had a free week before meeting up with my Camino buddies in Oviedo, so I visited Bay Area friends who retired in Ponferrada, Spain.  I also served as a part-time Hospitalera and taught yoga for pilgrims at the Albergue  San Nicolás de Flüe. And last, but certainly not least, I spent two weeks walking the Camino Primitivo with a wonderful group of pilgrims from Malta. 

Continue reading

Camino Love Story: Michelle & Andreas

Our Camino Love Story

by Michelle & Andreas

Statue of Mother Mary atop the foothills of the Pyrenees, just outside of Orisson

Statue of Mother Mary atop the foothills of the Pyrenees, just outside of Orisson

Most, if not all, of our friends know how our Camino Love Story came about. With that said, we absolutely love retelling it and reliving each and every mesmerizing step along the Way of St. James as it led us to this very beautiful moment of our becoming one on May 12, 2018.

Continue reading

Camino Inglés: Arrival in Santiago

Continued from Sigüeiro to Santiago.

When I started my walk from Sigüeiro, it was sunny and warm, but by the time I reached Santiago, the sky was grey and it felt like it would rain at any moment. This was exactly like my arrival in Santiago last year after walking the Camino Portugués. However, I was in a completely different state of mind this time, having learned a great lesson. I had prebooked a room so I wasn’t desperately trying to find a bed for the night. This time around, I didn’t care if it poured; I was going straight to Praza do Obradoiro by the Cathedral.

I headed right for the center of Praza Obradoiro and felt a euphoric sense of joy rush over me. I made it. My second Camino. And I was so high on life! Below is a video of my arrival.

Continue reading

Camino Inglés: Sigüeiro to Santiago

Continued from Bruma to Sigüeiro.

Santiago or bust! This was the seventh, and final, day of walking the Camino Inglés. And I was just getting warmed up! Until I have enough time off work to walk a longer Camino, these shorter variations satisfy the calling.

First stop, Restaurante Cortés, across the street from Pension Andaina. I sidled up to the bar and ordered a café con leche.  Sometimes you get a sweet treat when you order coffee, but this time it was warm churros and cake!

Generous breakfast tapas on the Camino Ingles

Generous breakfast tapas on the Camino Inglés.

Continue reading

Camino Inglés: Bruma to Sigüeiro

Continued from Bruma, where two Caminos converge.

What comes up must come down. Sure, it was a longer stage of 16 miles (25 km), but I was in for an easier walk on this day because it was mostly downhill, as the graph below shows.

I was out bright and early (for me at least) because I stayed in a municipal albergue and pilgrims need to be out by 8 a.m. On my way out of town, I was hoping the Casa Graña was open for a café con leche. I had forgotten to get a stamp in my credential the night before. They were totally closed, but I spotted a cute bunny hopping around their patio. Here’s the video of the Bruma Bunny.

Continue reading