It took some time to sift through the hundreds of photos I snapped walking the Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James), but finally narrowed them down to my favorites. I’m not great with words, so I hope these photos paint a picture of my experience. For anyone thinking about walking the Camino (or biking, horseback, or even travelling via donkey), I encourage you to do so. I had some trepidation initially, especially as a single female (safety issues and all), but the Camino was an incredible life experience that I will never forget. If you travel solo, you’re never alone on the Camino (unless you choose to be).
While there were a few things that I did not particularly enjoy along the way — oh, like the horrible, perpetual snoring (that my ear plugs could not even drown out), the three consecutive days of torrential downpour, and the aches and sore muscles that I’m still trying to recover from — overall the Camino was a very positive and memorable experience. Met some amazing people from all over the world. Loved that I would meet a person or group of people, walk with them for a day or two, then part ways. Then a few days later, out of the blue, they would pop back into my life like old friends. I felt physically challenged, healthy, and invigorated. I saw beauty — landscapes, mountains, rainbows, cathedrals, monuments, etc.
Did I figure out the reason that I felt the need to walk the Camino? No, but I would do it again. Did I figure out the meaning of life? No. Find myself? Not really, still a bit lost in this journey we call life. Did I become more spiritual or religious? No to that too. But I did find inner peace, if just for a brief moment. At home, I often feel anxious about the future. I never feel content with myself. However, on the Camino, I was able to shut off my brain. Enjoy the moment. Feel happy. Leave my emotional baggage behind. Just “be.” Something I hope to better incorporate into my life back here in NYC.
What I really enjoyed was the simplicity of life while on the Camino — get up, have coffee, walk, stop for breakfast (tortilla and more coffee), walk some more, stop for a snack (and more coffee), walk some more, check into the albergue and get (Camino) passport stamped, shower, wash and hang my clothes, rest, dinner, wine (no vino, no Camino), sleep, and repeat.
The only thing that I had to worry about was finding a bed at night (and bed bugs, which thankfully I did not encounter).
Hope you enjoy the photos and feel inspired to one day walk The Way of St. James.
If you decide to take this journey, pack light. Just the essentials. If you think you may not need something, don’t bring it. Your body will thank you later. You can always pick up things along the way (or discard/donate things). Wear comfortable shoes (and break them in ahead of time). Good quality socks too. Luckily I did not get any blisters, but did develop shin pain (probably because my pack was too heavy). Again, pack light. Oh, and get really good ear plugs.
It all started in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France (Tuesday, September 8, 2015)…
Walking over the Pyrenees, from France into Spain…stunning, magical, and physically exhausting (~6 hours uphill the entire way). Pure adrenaline kept me going.
Roncesvalles (made it to Spain)
My first group of Camino friends (from Germany, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Italy).
Monumento peregrino (Alto del Perdon)
Fuenta del Vino (Bodegas Irache)
Camino friends from Germany and the United States.
Torres del Rio
Viana (arrived on the day of a town festival)
My French ami (buddy)…We walked many days together; a very friendly, chatty man. He moved ahead (somewhere around Rabanal) as I slowed down, nursing my leg (shin pain). But as fate would have it, as I was making my way into Santiago, he spotted me (he was on his way back to his home in France that day). We exchanged hugs and farewells. It was a pleasure my friend, merci 🙂
Rioja wine country
On my way to Santo Domingo…
Grañón (and a magnificent double rainbow that lasted six hours).
Taking a little rest…
Sometimes the way wasn’t always clear…
Me and my Canadian friend (lady in hot pink). Never got a chance to say goodbye. Was certain our paths would cross again, but sadly they never did. I didn’t take any photos of her/us, just this one of our shadows. Who knows, maybe we’ll meet again someday?
Somewhere along the ‘dreaded’ Meseta…stark, arid landscape that went on for days, and made for some very long walks.
Cute, remote Hontanas
Camino friends from Sweden, Portugal, and Korea.
Consulting the guide…
Sahagun, the Arch of San Benito (Arco San Benito).
A typical breakfast — tortilla and coffee…I don’t want to see another tortilla for a very long time.
Elvis Bar, Reliegos.
Dinner with Camino friends…
Leon (arrived on the day of a medieval festival).
Hospital del Orbigo.
Crossing the bridge into Hospital del Orbigo with my Italian friends, Ciao!
La Casa de los dioses Canitna
Puerto Irato Cruz de Ferro
Made it to Galicia, almost there…
My favorite Camino meal — octopus, pimientos de Padron, and a glass (or two) of the local wine.
Lots and lots of Galician cows…
Rain, rain, and more rain…
30 days later (29 days of walking, 1 rest day, 3 days of torrential rain, 1 day of tropical storm-like winds, one bad leg, and a bout of what I suspect was food poising) made it to Santiago de Compostela 🙂
Not quite done yet…
The end of this journey, the beginning of the next. To be continued…