Book Review: The Camino Inglés: 6 Days (or less) to Santiago

When I walked the Camino Inglés last summer, one of the guidebooks I used was The Camino Inglés: 6 Days (or less) to Santiago, by Susan Jagannath.  I enjoyed reading this guide on my Kindle App the night before each stage.  I often referred to it again before heading out for the day, and to look up points of interest.

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Film Review: Wayfaring

Wayfaring – A Jaunt Along The Camino de Santiago

Scott Herriott 2014 ‧ Documentary ‧ 1h 19m

Wayfaring This film follows Scott “Squatch” Herriott, an Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trail veteran, on the Camino Francés in the spring of 2013. He interviews pilgrims, albergue owners, hospitaleros (volunteers of the Camino), and a few locals who like to flirt with young peregrinas.

Squatch can be quite hilarious at times, as are some of the subjects he meets along his jaunt. There’s a scene with a couple who met along the Camino, and a very moving story of kindness that gave me goose bumps. It was a nice surprise to see Bay Area pilgrim Nancy Reynolds interviewed at an albergue! She’s well known for her enthusiastic Camino Experience presentations and guiding people across the Pyrenees.

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Book Review: Sunrises to Santiago

Sunrises to Santiago: Searching for Purpose on the Camino de Santiago
By Gabriel Schirm

SunrisestoSantiagoA fresh new voice is on the Camino book scene, and it can now be heard via Audible, narrated by the author himself. Sunrises to Santiago is a journey of a young couple who walked the 500 miles of the Camino Frances in 30 days, an ambitious feat.  Gabriel and his wife Amy lived in Spain for three years prior to their Camino and have a great appreciation for Spanish cuisine and lifestyle.

He leads with a solid introduction on the history and background of the Camino. Along the way they encounter a few of the unpleasant aspects of the Camino  such as  bedbugs, snoring and blisters. But the author reveals so much more along his journey, including heartfelt stories of the people they meet along the way, and questions about his true purpose in life. I could relate to both Gabriel and Amy on so many different levels. Whenever Gabriel veers into cynicism or self-doubt,  Amy drops some words of wisdom on the meaning of life. She is a guru! I loved hearing that she planned to start yoga teacher training after their Camino.  This is my plan after my Camino as well.

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Backpack Review: Osprey Sirrus Women’s 24

You may have seen my recent Camino Backpack Trail Test. I have tried many packs from REI over the last few months on my quest for a Camino backpack, but finally found one that is just right!

Update, July 2016: It was just right for my short Camino, but read my Backpack Review After the Camino for my thoughts about why I am sizing up for my longer Camino next year.

The Osprey Sirrus Women’s 24 Pack



OspreySirrus

Yes, this is half the size of the REI Traverse, but I won’t need 48 liter capacity on a short (10 day) Camino in late May.  I intend to pack extremely light because the Camino provides all the heavy stuff along the way, such as shelter, a bed, food, water, and plenty of pilgrim resources should I need something.  I am refining my packing list and will include that in a “Will it fit?” test later.  For now, I want to share what I like about the Osprey Sirrusfor she’s a real beauty with a smart design.

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Book Review: On The Primitive Way

On The Primitive Way: Two Texan Brothers Journey to Santiago de Compostela
by Landon Roussel

On The Primitive Way, by Landon RousselAs a Camino enthusiast, I have read a few books about the historic pilgrimage, but this one was different. Not only does Dr. Roussel show what the less-traveled Camino Primitivo route is like, but he also tells a personal story of his brother who had a lifelong struggle with addiction. After his brother had been released from prison, the two of them walked the Camino together. The narrative shifts between two timelines—the present experience on the Camino, and memories of his brother, some of which were painful. Dr. Roussel is a skilled storyteller, so he manages to pull it off without the reader getting lost in the two worlds. The transitions were easy to follow and it succeeded in being a real page-turner! Paperback and Kindle versions available on Amazon.com.

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Camino Backpack Trail Test: REI Traverse

This is a follow up review of the REI Traverse backpack I tried during my quest for a Camino backpack. I had ordered around ten different packs from REI and have taken full advantage of their return policy. I immediately returned the packs that didn’t fit, or those that had the top entry drawstring instead of a zip panel opening. The Traverse seemed like a potential keeper, especially when I compared  it to others, but I had to test it out to be sure.  I first tried this backpack on a 4-mile walk around Lake Merritt with 18 pounds of dumbbells and pillows packed inside.  I tested it again on a 5-mile trail hike on a hot day in the Oakland hills. Below is the video:
REI Traverse Backpack Trail Test

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DVD Review: Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago

Whether you are familiar with the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, or are just starting to hear its calling, this documentary should be at the top of your must-see list. Director Lydia B. Smith walked the 500-mile trail in 2008 and was so moved Camino’s magnetic power that she decided to walk it again, along with her friend Annie O’Neil. This time with an international film crew and a strong hunch that they would meet some interesting subjects along the way. The Camino provided.

Walking the Camino: Six Ways to SantiagoWalking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago follows six pilgrims on their journey from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago.  During the first days of filming, the crew fatefully encountered the pilgrims that would become the cast: Sam from Brazil/UK, Wayne from Canada, Misa from Denmark, Tomás from Portugal, Tatiana from France. These pilgrims and Annie from the USA all had different reasons for doing the Camino, and faced different challenges along the way. You get to see their real Camino experiences—from blisters and debilitating injury—to camaraderie and unexpected romance.   There are interviews with priests and hospitaleros who describe what the pilgrimage is about.  By the end of the film,  I really understood the camaraderie of people from all over the world converging on the same path.  The film has stunning cinematography that captures the beauty of nature— from  tiny dew drops on grass—to the majestic mountains of the Pyrenees.

Watch the trailer: Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago

I had the opportunity to see this film and meet featured pilgrim and co-producer Annie O’Neil  when it was screened in Berkeley earlier this year. I recently bought the DVD boxed set, which includes bonus material and two hours of unseen footage.

Walking The Camino Boxed Set

Fans of this film will appreciate the in-depth interviews with the cast. I particularly liked what Sam said about the Camino changing the chemistry of her body. She threw away all her medications, just started walking and all her symptoms went away. The boxed set is available for purchase and makes a beautiful gift for any Caminophile on your list. See more purchase options.

Clearly, I am a fan of this film and recommend it to anyone who is interested in walking the Camino. I am looking forward to Annie O’Neil’s new documentary Phil’s Camino. 

Book Review: Camino Chronicle by Susan Alcorn

Many of us remember clearly where we were on September 11th, 2001.  Author Susan Alcorn and her husband Ralph were on the Camino de Santiago when they heard the tragic news, fourteen years ago today.  Susan’s book, Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago, has a day-to-day account of walking the Camino Francés, which they had just started on September 1st of that year.   Continue reading