Cultivating Camino Community

For us pilgrims, the Camino community at home is often a necessity to keep the spirit alive throughout the year. Our chapter’s 2nd annual St. James Day Celebration in Piedmont, California, was a great example of how pilgrims come together to cultivate community. As a chapter coordinator, I find this annual event is my favorite to organize, not just because it takes place in my neighborhood parish. Rather, it has become a meaningful way to honor the reason for the pilgrimage, celebrate with friends, provide a blessing to departing pilgrims, and to introduce St. James to those who are curious.

It was a joy to bring both of my communities—parish and pilgrims—together for this special evening. The first part of the event was tailored for our pilgrim community with a potluck dinner and chapter announcements. I swear, our potlucks keep getting better each time!

There were Camino-inspired dishes, wine, tapas, paellas, caldo de Galicia, and of course, the superstar of the occasion, Tarta de Santiago. There were a few, actually! Continue reading

Santiago Highlights: The Cathedral, from Roof to Crypt

Continued from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Santiago.

This post covers some of the fascinating aspects of the cathedral, including the rooftop tour, holy doors, botafumeiro, crypt, as well as the rites of embracing the apostle, and attending a pilgrim mass.

Rooftop tour of the Cathedral

If you enjoy great views, I recommend the Santiago cathedral rooftop tour. I did the Spanish tour because that was the only tour available on my last day. When I return to Santiago in June, I will book the English-speaking version of the tour.

Model of the cathedral

Model of the cathedral

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Walking Day 6: Padrón to Santiago

IMG_8111Continued from Caldas de Reis to Padrón

Stage: Padrón to Santiago
27 km

For all the modern amenities the Albergue Corredoiras in Padrón has, it lacks in the coffee maker department. Groggy pilgrims were taking turns using a small Italian-style stove-top coffee maker.

Colorful decor and art

Cute kitchen, but they need more coffee makers

In the adorable-but-not-functional Ikea-like kitchen, I looked in every cupboard for a French press, hot water kettle, or even an American-style drip coffee maker, to no avail. I finally got my turn, made a stove-top pot of coffee, and shared it with the Aussies and they shared their milk with me. This coffee was enough to get me out the door. I knew I could get another caffeine fix later.

On my walk through Padrón there were detour signs. I did not think this would add much to the overall kilometers that day, but it ended up being the longest walk yet! Brierley’s guide showed 24.9 km for this stage, but my AllTrails app showed 27.4 km.

Detour Signs leaving Padron

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Walking Day 5: Caldas de Reis to Padrón

CCaldastoPadronontinued from Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis

Stage: Caldas de Reis to Padrón
19 km

After my fifth night in a municipal albergue, I was getting used to the routine of putting my earplugs in to sleep through the “snorchestra.” Municipal albergues are the cheapest accommodations on the Camino: I paid just five euros for the first three nights in Portuguese albergues, and six euros the last two nights after crossing over to Spain. That is just thirty dollars at our current 1.12 Euro-Dollar exchange rate (the best exchange rate I have ever seen!). There is a range of comfort to match every budget on the Camino. I chose to stay in municipal albergues for two reasons: (1) to meet other pilgrims on my short Camino, and (2) because that is one of the requirements of being a hospitalero (volunteer) on the Camino.*

I couldn’t help but wonder what pilgrim life was like on the other side, like staying in a private room with ensuite bathroom and real sheets. Sure I could tolerate the sleeping above a different snoring man each night, but I was getting tired of the odd bathroom situations. The albergue in Caldas had an awkward setup and was lacking in good shower and sink facilities. Everything was shoddy and wobbly. I was thinking about how this would have driven my husband crazy. He grew up working in his Italian grandfather’s hardware store and learned many skills from the tradesmen. He even fixed a toilet in an old hotel room we stayed at in New Orleans!

Albergues are all different, and some are a little on the grungy side. For the low price, you get what you pay for. Nonetheless, Caldas de Reis was a beautiful small village that I would like to return to someday and stay in the hotel with the private thermal baths. Below is a 360° video I shot on the old Roman bridge by the albergue and fountain.

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