One day in el Camino de Santiago

The pilgrims follow the Sun in the day, from East to West and follow the Milky Way (Via Lactea) in the night. They see the sunrise in the mornings and follow the Sun towards the West walking through pure, golden fields or crossing colourful mountains.

Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James, is a new life, a life inside your life where you have the chance of truly being yourself, a return to the basics of the human being, where you have the chance of paying attention to the small things that we always forget in our “busy-lifes”. You get up, admire the day, feel in touch with the Earth, breath, and observe yourself, your environment and people beside you. Then you walk, and think, and admire the day. You meet people in your Camino de Santiago and you really listen to them, you feel a connection with them, they are not strangers. You learn from them and care about them.

You feel hungry and think about how and where you will eat: under a tree, beside a stream of water or in the next village you will find. Probably you already have in your pocket some figs from a fig tree you found by the path or some almonds, cheese or sweet wine that a local just gave to you asking nothing in exchange. You feel tired but very healthy. The Sun is giving you strength.

You continue enjoying the day and Nature and observing everything that happens around you. If unfortunately some car happens to pass nearby you are shocked because you are walking now and you see the world at your natural pace and just the sight of such a fast, noisy and polluting machine is frightening. You think: “What are they for?”.

The Sun is dying now. It is time to rest and wait for the following day. In El Camino de Santiago you can choose where you will sleep: in the next village? in the small albergue enjoying a dinner of local food and nice company? Or maybe under the stars in the warm night? (just think of how often you have this possibility in your normal life).

And the following day the cycle starts again. You will choose how far you want to walk, you will choose your route, you will choose where you will stop to stare at something. This is the freedom that I mentioned earlier, the chance to be you, the chance to take care of the real important things.

In the Camino de Santiago de Compostela there is no competition but there is a communion with the Nature and other beings. Once you have been seduced by its charm you can’t even tell if you have been there just for a few days or for years.

A LASTING GIFT

Our Camino kept escorting us off the map. I refer not routes outlined in one of the Brierley guidebooks, but any lay of the land as to how a Camino is supposed to look. Our first day out (October 1, 2012) found us leaving my wife’s pack in a bus station. By the second day, we’d lost our guidebook, the worse because it was borrowed. The third day, we recalled (too far back for tired legs) walking sticks leaning over empty plates of tortillas in an aromatic cafe´. The fourth day the watch went. And so on, until the thin blue camera with the best photos of our life must have leaped out of a torn back pocket.

We were pobrecitos. Having left behind our plans and assumptions, uninformed by time and without images—St. James had politely removed them all and extended to my wife and me his invitation to walk into newness, freshness, the mystery of each of our days on this gran adventura.

Yet there were more ‘gifts’ of Our Lady of Compostella—the feeling of being as home as rocks in green Galicia, stunning embraces at the plaza below La Catedral de Santiago, the bonding of globalized hearts…and one last and lasting regalo.

Not far from our destination, a voice whispered far within our ears a message as clear as springtime arising, “It’s time for a Camino de Crestone.” That’s where we live, in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. Our little international mountain town of Crestone at the foot of sacred mountains, has since the ’70s drawn to its quaintness numerous retreat centers, spiritual enclaves, labyrinths, sweat lodges, prayer circles, medicine wheels and sanctuaries. Immediately, the Camino’s invitation to create another Camino became clear: The Camino de Crestone would be the world’s first interfaith pilgrimage.

Now, week-long pilgrimages take place between June and September in which pilgrims visit 15 spiritual centers—each like a bead on a necklace—enjoy 18 special presentations, plus an extensive audio tour, on this 36-mile educational intensive doubling as a spiritual retreat. Last year witnessed the inaugural Camino de Crestone—a life-affirming, life-transforming pilgrimage—with five more planned in 2014 (www.caminodecrestone.com).

Buen Camino! May all caminantes walk into their larger destinies, and may all of our lives be pilgrimages of exquisite gifts.

By William Howell

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Acknowledgements: William Howell, www.caminodecrestone.com
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Finisterre, fin del Camino de Santiago

P: Quisiera saber qué hay de cierto en un comentario que he oído hoy, y es que, una vez se llega Santiago de Compostela, hay que ir a tirar el calzado con el que has hecho el Camino de Santiago a Finisterre.

R: Bueno la tradición es ir a quemarlo, como símbolo de purificación y de renovación. El calzado o cualquier otra prenda de vestir que hayas llevado durante tu peregrinación en el Camino de Santiago, hay gente que lo quema en la playa de Finisterre, después de caminar desde Santiago de Compostela hasta Finisterre.
Pero, obvio, no es obligatorio, sólo es un símbolo de los tantos que hay en el Camino de Santiago. Sinceramente yo nunca lo he hecho. Eso sí, si quemas algo ¡cuidado con el fuego! que no se extienda y en no dejar residuos y basura en la playa.

Empezando el Camino de Santiago en diciembre

P: Buenos días, yo soy un joven argentino y estoy planeando hacer el Camino de Santiago completo empezando la última semana de diciembre de 2012 y mi idea era hacerlo en un mes mas o menos.

Quería saber si me tengo que anotar en algun lado. Si saben de algun grupo que vaya en esa epoca y si es recomendable llevar camara de fotos.  Desde ya muchas gracias.

R: En esa época del año van pocos grupos al Camino de Santiago porque es nuestro invierno, no obstante, siempre encontrarás peregrinos en el camino. No es necesario que te registres de antemano, basta con conseguir la Credencial del peregrino en el punto de inicio.

Puesto que es invierno y las condiciones seran duras para cruzar los Pirineos no te recomiendo que empieces el Camino de Santiago en Francia, sino ya en la segunda etapa, en Roncesvalles, en el lado español de los Pirineos, para evitarte el cruzar las cimas de las montañas.

En el albergue de Roncesvalles podrás conseguir la Credencial del peregrino. Contáctales para asegurarte que el día que vas a llegar estará abierto y con Credenciales del Peregrino disponibles.

Ah, ¡llevate camara de fotos porque los paisajes seran espectaculares! y llevate ropa de abrigo porque hará frio.

Visa y reserva de hotel para entrar a España a peregrinar el Camino de Santiago

P: Hola! Soy mexicana y voy hacer el Camino de Santiago de Compostela con otros 3 peregrinos de Leon a Santiago de Compostela… Queremos empezar el 26 de junio del 2012… Ahorita a los mexicanos nos estan solicitando al ingresar a España comprobante de alojamiento durante el viaje… la mayoria de los albergues son sin reservaciones… ustedes saben cómo lo podemos hacer para comprobar nuestro alojamiento durante el recorrido del Camino de Santiago?

R: Primero de todo pedirte disculpas y decirte que lo siento mucho que mi país está incluyendo estas normas estúpidas. Me da pena que haya gente de otros países que quiera ir a hacer el Camino de Santiago y les pongan problemas para entrar a España.

Sinceramente no se mucho de estas cosas legales. Lo que te puedo decir es que en los albergues públicos del Camino de Santiago va a ser imposible conseguir una prueba de reserva. Lo que si podéis hacer quizás, es reservar un hotel una noche en Santiago de Compostela y alguna otra noche en un hotel en alguna de las ciudades grandes por las que vais a pasar como León, Astorga o Ponferrada, o Melide. Así aunque no tendréis prueba de reserva hostelera para cada noche, al menos tendréis una prueba de una noche reservada de cuando en cuando, y además todo el mundo sabe en España que por esas ciudades pasa el Camino de Santiago por lo que espero que puedan aceptar eso como justificante de que venís como peregrinos.

Lo único es que para hacer esto tendríais que calcular de antemano en que día llegaríais a estas ciudades con reserva en hotel, aunque supongo que si por algún motivo os retrasáis o adelantáis podréis llamar y hacer un cambio. Claro que reservando un hotel u hostal privado os va a salir un poquito mas caro que si os quedáis en un albergue de peregrinos, pero quizás es la única forma de solventar este problema. De todos modos seguro que hay habitaciones por 15 o 20 euros por persona. (Los albergues públicos de la Xunta de Galicia creo que costaban unos 5 euros por noche.)

Bueno no te puedo dar ninguna garantía de que el consejo que te estoy dando pueda funcionar, es solo una idea que he tenido yo al leer tu problema, pero quizás lo mas fiable es que llames a la Embajada y te asesoren mejor.

Que disfrutéis vuestro Camino de Santiago!!

Planning 3 weeks in Camino de Santiago

Q: I have decided to walk El Camino de Santiago (route Frances) in early September for 3 weeks – I would really appreciate if you could tell me where I should start – and what the best parts are to walk versus take the bus. Do you have any guidance on which place I will most likely be compelled to stop at and spend time? Thank you for your guidance…and for this website to help us future pilgrims in Camino de Santiago.

A: You could start el Camino de Santiago at the beginning (St. Jean Pied de Port) and then skip a week doing by bus the stretch between Burgos and Leon. Otherwise, if you don’t want to take the bus, you could start in Logroño and get into Santiago in three weeks. Read carefully our Camino de Santiago website because the maps (Camino de Santiago Maps) and information of each part of Camino Frances (Camino Frances Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) are all there. Read also the general Camino de Santiago Planning section.

If you want to spend a day sightseeing instead of walking: Pamplona, Burgos, Leon, and Santiago de Compostela are the most beautiful cities. But also there are plenty of towns and villages along el Camino de Santiago with an unbelievable art heritage.

5 días en el Camino de Santiago Compostela

P: Quiero hacer solo una parte del Camino de Santiago, ya que solo dispongo de unos 5 dias, comenzaria mañana miércoles y terminaría el domingo, ¿desde donde me recomiendas comenzar el recorrido?, yo en estos momentos me encuentro en Medina del campo y hoy quiero trasladarme para comenzar el Camino de Santiago mañana.

R: Te doy dos opciones, si quieres llegar hasta la catedral de Santiago de Compostela te recomiendo que te vayas a empezar a Sarria, en la provincia de Lugo, desde allí es posible hacer los 100 ultimos km del camino y obtener el diploma de la Compostelana en la Catedral.

Otra opción mas fácil es que simplemente tomes un bus a Astorga (yo creo que en Medina del Campo hay abundancia de buses hasta Astorga y no debe de tardar mas de 2 horas) y llegar hasta donde te de tiempo. En cinco dias desde Astorga puedes hacer la Cruz de Ferro, toda la bonita comarca del bierzo y la preciosa ascensión a Galicia.

Yo elegiría la opcion 2 a no ser que tengas una especial devoción o promesa por llegar a Santiago de Compostela.

Planning the last stretch of Camino de Santiago

Q: I have only very recently started to think about walking a part of the Camino de Santiago. Until today my plans were nothing more than some sketchy imaginings but after discovering your website and talking to a friend of mine who has walked it before I think it is something I would really like to do.

From your website I loved the photos from the last stage of El Camino de Santiago in Galicia so this is the part of the journey I would like to try.

I live in Ireland so could easily fly to either Santander or Santiago de Campostela. Given that I would like to start in Herrerias (and do stages 27-32 as outlined on your website) which of these would be the better option for a destination airport?

The stretch of El Camino de Santiago that I am looking at is 195km according to your website. I am aged 32 and am healthy and fit but up to now have been not a huge walker – do you think it’s reasonable to underatake these six stages in six consecutive days. I have looked at flights (both Santander and Santiago de Campostela) that arrive on a Thursday and leave one week later on the next Thursday. This means I would need to walk Friday – Wednesday.

I also wanted to ask your advice about the best time of year to go. At the moment I’m looking at dates in mid June.

Apologies for the multitude of questions but I am feeling very excited about this undertaking. Thanks for all your help. I look forward to hearing from you.

R: Thanks for your email and sorry for the late reply – I get alot of emails about el Camino de Santiago.

The choice between Santander airport or Santiago is completely up to you. It is probably easier to connect with the last stages of the camino from Santiago, but from Santander you could get a bus to Leon and from there a bus to your starting point. It’s really up to you. Santander is a nice city if you want to spend a couple of hours there before getting your connection. Prices of flights tend to go up in the summer also, so one option might be cheaper than the other.

Bear in mind that the stages I have set out in the website are not set in stone. There are other places to stop along the way and you can improvise as you go along. I think that 195km over 6 days is a big undertaking, especially if you are not used to walking. It would be a good idea to do some hiking to prepare and to get used to walking long distances with a rucksack. If you live in Dublin you could spend a few weekends walking in the Wicklow mountains to build up your stamina.

June is generally hot – though in Galicia you always have to be prepared for showers! Many Spanish people will do the camino in the summer so if you go in June you should expect crowded hostels, especially on that last stretch. If you are happy to walk in the heat, then there should be no problem. Otherwise, I would suggest going a bit earlier or later in the summer, September maybe.

I think that is everything. Don’t feel you need to stick to the stages I have outlined, it is just a guide of what I did. If you feel tired you can stop earlier or if you feel strong, you can go further, it’s up to you.

One more thing, pack as light as you can, you’ll thank me for that advice.

Best of luck and buen Camino.

Weather in Galicia: Camino de Santiago in spring

Q: Thank you for this helpful Camino de Santiago website! Four of us are planning on starting our Camino de Santiago on Sunday, 29 April, 2012, from O’Cebreiro. Rain is predicted in the weather forecasts. What I want to know is how much rain to expect? Does it rain constantly, all day? Or does it usually rain for a while then stop? Thanks so much for your help!

R: Weather in Galicia is quite unpredictable and the only certainty is that it is quite wet and fast changing. So you could have four seasons in one day. Galician weather is Atlantic similar to weather in Ireland and Brittany although with stronger sun in summer.

With regard to your question, it can certainly rain nearly the whole day, sometimes in Galicia there is this thin and slow rain of small drops that lasts for hours. But as I said it’s very changeable so after a while you might have the most beautiful sunshine. Actually in the past months there have just been a dangeous spell of drought in Galicia.

So don’t be afraid or discouraged by a rainy forecast for your Camino de Santiago, just carry appropriated rain gear just in case. Galicia is just an incredible beautiful Celtic region and many people say it’s even more beautiful under the rain.

Camino de Santiago Blog

Este es el primer post de nuestro recien estrenado blog en español para nuestro sitio web sobre el Camino de Santiago, por lo que lo deberemos tomar como nuestro lanzamiento oficial. Por ejemplo, podríamos subir a este blog la respuesta a una pregunta interesante hecha a traves del forum del Camino de Santiago para darle mas visibilidad o cualquier noticia relacionada con El Camino de Santiago, etc. Bueno, feliz “blogueo” desde el equipo del la web de El Camino de Santiago.

The pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela