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.

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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.

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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:

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Camino Primitivo Stages

¡Feliz verano! I recently returned from an epic 40-day journey in Europe.  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 Rennie & Maggie Archibald, 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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Camino Inglés: Presedo to Bruma

Continued from Betanzos to Presedo.

By splitting the Betanzos-to-Bruma stage (28 km), the walk from Presedo was more manageable at 10 miles (16 km). However, it had the steepest climb yet, with an elevation gain of nearly 2,000 feet.

Leaving Presedo was pleasant. Even though it wasn’t raining, the air was cool and heavy with moisture. Perfect conditions for hiking the Camino.

I saw a fixer-upper, an orange slug, barking dogs, and happy cows, as I trekked southwest toward Hospital de Bruma. I took a few short video clips to capture the beauty and feeling of this stage. Continue reading

Camino Inglés: Betanzos to Presedo

Continued from Exploring Betanzos.

This day’s hike was short but sweet, because I split this most challenging stage by staying in Presedo.  As my tracked hike screenshot shows, it was 8.5 miles (14 km), but it was still  a challenging and hilly hike with a 1565 ft. elevation gain.

Shell marker in Betanzos

It was a Dirty Girl gaiter and skirt day.

The hike out of Betanzos was steep and went from cobblestone to asphalt to gravel, and eventually, dirt paths over rolling hills with farms.

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Camino Inglés: Exploring Betanzos

Continued from Pontedeume to Betanzos

Arriving in Betanzos

Arriving in Betanzos

The entrance into Betanzos, a medieval town, is through the arched stone walls and cobbled streets. When I arrived, I was completely exhausted. Fortunately, the albergue had a friendly hospitalero, an available bunk bed, and because it was a newer municipal albergue, everything, including the bathrooms, was in much better shape.

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