Why I did the camino

People are understandably curious about the reasons why people start on this long journey. Below, visitors of our site posted their motivation of walking the camino.

Joanie Hess

Why I did this hike in the first place was really all about family— my own family, my extended family, my human family. I learned about the camino in a 5th grade reader (I attended a Catholic parochial school). It was a story about two children, one destined to stay in the then Spanish colony of St. Augustine Florida and the other to return to Spain. “Remember St. James and Spain,” the one bid the other farewell. On and off over the years, I came across articles about it and thought, someday I’ll do this myself! My fears, frustrations, sweat and toil doing this were offered for a brother who disappeared on Saturday, October 15, 1966. He was an 8th grade student who had just finished delivering papers on his newspaper route, stopped by home briefly and then went out again on his bike a 3:30 p.m. to meet his best friend. He never arrived. He and his belongings were never found. A proper police investigation was not done because a few days later, some classmates told the police they thought they saw my brother and ran after him “but couldn’t catch him.” So he was simply listed as a runaway. This was something he would not have done— he would not have run out on the family or his best friend. He was my good buddy as well. I was about 5 years older than he and had a minor surgery a few weeks before he disappeared. He would get ice packs for me, take my mail up to me and that sort of stuff. Like I said, he would have never run out on us like that. I knew from the start that this was foul play. The laws regarding responsibilities of the police for a missing child were very weak at the time, something that has since been partially corrected, although the handling of such cases in the United States has yet to be standardized. Several attempts were made to get the police to look at this case again, but to no avail. But thirty-some years later, I was able to get the police to reopen this case and their efforts led to him to finally be listed with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Virginia. Although I have little hope that this case will be “solved,” at least I know that stones are being unturned with ruling out that he survived whatever happened to him and DNA matches on remains that crop up and that sort of thing. Good investigators are working on this and their personal causes were added to my list of intentions that were placed at the tomb of St. James. My list from friends, neighbors, and co-workers was a rather long typed list. I hand-wrote wishes to extend blessings to people that I met along the way, genuine people who cared. Service workers and locals alike. Since my brother’s body was never found, no Requiem Mass was ever said for him and my walk was done en lieu of such. It’s been difficult due to lack of closure.

Leticia Gomez

I have been planning to do this walk for the last 10 years and was able to finally do it last year. I started March 4, 2007 and Finished April 4, 2007. It was everything I expected and more!!! I had horrible feet problems that almost prevented me from continuing El Camino on my 7th day of walking but I did and I am so glad I did!!! All the pain was worth it and would love to do it again!! I found myself, I found peace, I saw all the beautiful things that life has to offer and I met wonderful people!!!

Mirian Zucarello

I´ll be doing the Camino again in May 2008 leaving from Le Puy…I´m looking for companhy to cross the Pyrinnes….. Please, leave a msg at : mizu@bol.com.br

Joanie Hess

I walked the Portuguese route in July, 2006 and what follows is why I did this hike in the first place. It was really all about family—my own family, my extended family, my human family. I learned about the camino in a 4th grade reader (I attended a Catholic parochial school). It was a story about two children, one destined to stay in the then Spanish colony of St. Augustine, Florida and the other to return to Spain. “Remember St. James and Spain,” the one bid the other farewell. A sidebar explained the story of the Santiago pilgrimage. I remember being quite impressed with the story. On and off over the years, I came across articles about it and thought, someday I’ll do this myself! But it wasn’t until I was touring the Basque region in Navarra in 2000 that I ran into someone who actually walked the camino. A young woman about 25 years old, who was a tour-guide at the cathedral in Hondarribia, told me of her experiences doing the camino herself. Hearing her speak of it gave me hope of accomplishing this journey. So here I was doing it for myself.

My fears, frustrations, sweat and toil doing this were offered for my brother, Anthony P. Tumolo, Jr. who disappeared 40 years ago on one crisp October Saturday. He was an 8th grade student who had just finished delivering papers on his newspaper route, stopped by home briefly and then went out again on his bike a 3:30 p.m. to meet his best friend. He never arrived. He and his belongings were never found. A proper police investigation was not done because two days later, some classmates told the police they saw my brother and ran after him “but couldn’t catch him.” It was a story that would ring out a grain of truth because the whole school knew that my brother was the fastest runner. Twenty-some years later, one of the classmates confessed that they had made up the whole story to cover for the fact that they were late getting back to class because they were smoking and needed a story to account for the time. So the case was tightly shut and he was simply listed as a runaway. This was something he would not have done—he would not have run out on the family or his best friend. He was my good buddy as well. I was about 5 years older than he and had a minor surgery a few weeks before he disappeared. He would get ice packs for me, take my mail up to me and that sort of stuff. Like I said, he would have never run out on us like that. I knew from the start that this was foul play. The laws regarding responsibilities of the police for a missing child were very weak at the time, something that has since been partially corrected in most areas, although the handling of such cases in the United States has yet to be standardized. Several attempts were made to get the police to look at this case again, to no avail. But thirty some years later, I was able to get the police to reopen this case and their efforts led to him to finally be listed with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Virginia. Although I have little hope that this case will be “solved,” at least I know that stones are being unturned with ruling out that he survived whatever happened to him and that DNA matches to my mitochondrial DNA could be done on any remains that crop up and that sort of thing. Good investigators are working on this and their personal causes were added to my list of intentions that were placed at the tomb of St. James. My list from friends, neighbors, and co-workers was a rather long typed list. In addition, I hand-wrote wishes to extend blessings to people that I met along the way, genuine people who cared. Service workers and locals alike. Also blessings for all the good folks at American Pilgrims, GoCAMINO site, and those at the Confraternity of St. James site whose technical advice helped make my camino possible. And that’s my story. I hope to do another camino, using a different route this coming spring.

Mírian Zucarello

Todos os que fazem o Caminho de Santiago tem um desejo de “dar um tempo”, um descanso da mesmice da vida, do trabalho, do chefe, do cachorro, o que seja. E esta ruptura se dá por completo uns dias depois de iniciada a jornada. O problema está na volta. Eu levei 3 meses para me re-estabelecer em minha rotina. Sentia muita falta de tudo o que vivi ao longo daqueles mais de um milhao de passos, de abandonar aquela vida comunitária, as pessoas, as flores, a Espanha. E agora vivo nao na ilusão, mas na certeza de votar nas proximas férias a fazer o caminho novamente.

Abraço de Brasil, TODO SE CUMPLE

Marie Lambe

In December 2004, our local newspaper had an article about the Camino in the Sunday travel section. I read the article and was intrigued. I called my daughter, who had spent the prior school year studying abroad in Granada, and asked her about the Camino. She told me that she had heard of it while in Spain and knew a couple of people who had walked it. Then she said to me “You can do it, Mom”. That’s all I had to hear. I went online and bought books on the Camino and began to read. I cut out the article and put it up on my pantry door (it is still there). That Christmas, my daughter was home from college and told me she wanted to walk the Camino with me the next spring. We made plans, got our supplies and off we went. I had never left my husband alone for so long but he was fine with it. I did not know what to expect. I don’t know why I went but I knew that I had to. I couldn’t explain to my friends or family, I just knew that it was something that I had to do. We had lots of support and encouragement but I was 52 years old and in good shape but never had I attempted something so physically, and little did I know, spiritually and psychologically, demanding. I just had to do it. I just had to. We started on April 19, 2005 in SJPP and finished in Santiago on May 24th. It took us 34 days. There were days where I cried, days I was frustrated, days that I was overjoyed. The gamut of emotions was unexpected and unexplicable. Returning home was so very difficult. My daughter and I cried, and I mean sobbed, when we left Santiago. We didn’t want to return. 34 days on the Camino taught us so much. I wish that I had the time to go into this but those of you who have walked know what I mean. I heard someone say that there is the Camino you walk and the Camino you live. Living the Camino is more difficult than walking it. I think that is why I want to go back. There are so many lessons that are learned on the Camino but the routine of everyday life dulls the memory of those lessons. I want to return but alone next time. It was nice being with my daughter because we have a memory that bonds us forever. But I think that walking the Camino alone will give me a different perspective, one that I really want to experience. What called me to the Camino? I don’t know. Did it make any significant changes in my life? In some ways yes and other ways, no. I read once that the changes brought about by the Camino can take years to make themselves known. I don’t know about that. I think that if people want to change, it must be a conscious decision and the experience of the Camino helps those changes to come about. I think about the Camino every day. It is always with me. The memory of my experiences on the Camino, the people I met, the emotions I felt will never leave. Maybe that is what is meant by the Camino we live.

Rami Kattan

The local parish priest organized the cammino for a group of 48 pelligrins to make the last 100km only, I wanted to make part of it at first for many reasons, and I was still reluctant when I went and started it. But later when I was in the cammino reflecting on the sense of doing it, and attending the everyday mass the priest made in the open I understood the real meaning of the cammino and my role in it and in the life, and now 4 days after coming back from the cammino I feel a real change in my life, hoping I remain in this situation forever, and if not I know the cure which is another cammino and surely for a longer distance.

Thanks for Don Daniele who organized the cammino and for the group who acted as a physical and moral support for all of us to continue.

GRAZIE da tutto il mio cuore…

Vincent Kelly

Here in my native Ireland on holidays (I live in England) and regaling my relatives with accounts of my pilgrimages to Santiago I am working on family and other research in a local library. I decided to go to Santiago after much reading about Spain because I had got three Spanish-born grandchildren and I had started to learn Spanish. I was by then just 70 and I had remembered seeing Walter Starkie walking about Dublin dressed, as they said, like an add. for Sandymans port, complete with cape and wide-awake hat. His accounts of life in Spain interested me greatly and I was inspired to explore the Camino for religious and cultural reasons, including the improvement of my Spanish. The grandchildren were quite proud of Grandpa setting out with his rucksack at what they considered to be his old age. That was in 1994 and I had the most wonderful experiences along the way. It changed my life to realise that in many places the local people had nothing yet they shared it willingly in order to help me achieve me in my ambition. It took me 32 days, some easy, but many very hard slogging but rewarding ones. In a small bar in Navarra a local farm worker hugged and with genuine tears told me (on 2nd Sept 1994) that the IRA had declared an “alto de fuego”, a cease-fire. He, as a Basque and understood what it must have meant to me. I even had an interview on Burgos radio and I wonder what they made of my fractured Spanish. However, the experience was so great that my dear wife, now unfortunately no longe with me urged mt to do it again in 1997 when I was 73. And so I did and had two of the most uplifting experiences that a man could haveSo much so that I returned twixe to areas on the Camino that I felt the most at home in. it was on those bleak but wonderful atretches betwen Carrion and Ponferrada. Wonderful people. Time precludes any further reporting but if you have not done you must. I stillhave friends around the world with whom I communicate and we have a gret common bond – one that tells us all just how people of many backgrounds can bond together,where racial and social differences mattered not, even religious ones. I walked for several days with an intriguing orthodox Jewess.

Eleonor Cravero de Argentina

Hice el camino en junio de este año como regalo de mi jubilación. Este fue el motivo inicial. A poco de iniciado el mismo (en Sarria), comencé a advertir que no era sólo eso, que había mucho más que fui develando a medida que peregrinaba. Era mi promer experiencia en este sentido. El camino fue para mi una búsqueda y un encuentro. Uno se encuentra con el silencio, con sus debilidades, con sus fortalezas, con sus amigos y con sus enemigos. Es un encuentro con la solidaridad, donde se borran todos los datos superfluos y queda en andar con el otro y estar cuando lo necesite. Hay tiempo, tiempo para pensar, para ver, para disfrutar, para añorar … En fin es un viaje hacia uno mismo. Para los que no se decidieron, háganlo, es una gran inversión. Eleonor

Christiaan Beeuwkes

St Jean to Santiago. Arrived May 22-06; 32 days. Alone. Why did I go? A year ago I walked across England (Coast 2 Coast) and enjoyed, besides the company of my friends, the countryside, the hosts with whom we stayed, the exercise and of course the pubs at the end of the day. One of the C2C friends had previously walked the Camino and was very encouraging. While I am somewhat envious of those who have a religious faith (it must be comforting to have someone/thing to turn to in joy and dispair) I remain a skeptic! None-the-less I resolved to be open to communication from St. James et al, should He want to talk to me. However I can’t say that He did. At the bus station in Santiago I mentioned this to a Dutchman who was dismayed that I had no faith. “Why haven’t you been visited by a Camino Angel?” I asked how I would know. “Well, for example, it’s when you have lost the path and someone comes along to show you the way.” “Oh yes,” I replied, “many times. Why just at my last Albergue before Santiago I was all set to step into the shower and I couldn’t find my soap. I called out for help and right away two people came forward with soap and shampoo!” “Ah, so you see, said the Dutchman; they were Angles from God!” I thought about this as I showered and wondered why God hadn’t helped me more directly by just showing me where my own soap was rather than making it necessary to trouble these people. Oh well. Another reason for going was that I wanted some separation from a troubled marriage; perhaps I would have some clarity on that by the time I had finished. Well I certainly pondered that and many other significant issues over hours of walking. I do know that I developed a strong feeling of my insignificanse in this world and so I resolved to be more humble. I do feel enriched by all that took place. Would I go again? Absolutely!!

Alex – USA / Spain

I first did the Camino in 1999. I had been living in Madrid for 3 years working in a corporate marketing job and I was ready to go home (the USA). I decided to do the Camino for a few reasons:

– Reflect and think about my time and life in Spain – Figure out what I wanted to do once I got back to the States – Get to know Galicia and see rural Spain. – Enjoy my last summer in Spain

Like so many others, the Camino changed my life!!! The Camino changed my outlook on a personal and professional level. 2 years later I was back living in Spain, and now I own a small tour company of, what else, the Camino!

If you’ve never done the Camino before, believe what you read on these posts. There is something VERY special about the Camino – it is an AMAZING experience!


I just returned home (USA) from the Camino. We thought we were going on a walking vacation! Instead, it was a wonderful renewing experience. Though a protestant, I went to mass a couple of times, and was blessed by Father Andres outside of Melide. I’d love to do the whole Camino, but I think I’ll take one of the less popular paths if so. The French Camino was crowded, eventhough it was only the beginning of May, and Santiago was jammed. That, of course, cannot be helped.

Paul King

Reasons are spirituality, Catholic/Christian heritage, and a possible geneaological connection based on my last name– Konig/King.

Pilgrims historically put down their bags and raced up the last hill before Sanitago–Monte de Gozo. From there, the spires of the cathedral were visible. The first pilgrim to spot the spires would declare, “I am the King,” in whatever was his language. From this, many pilgrims took this as their surname (not, of course, the only origin of the name). (See James Michener’s “Iberia.”) My Konig ancestors (“o” with an umlaught) were from the Hotzenwalt, Strittmatt, in the Black Forest. A local historian said the pilgrimmage was common for people from local hamlets. Finding about this in 1994, I became interested. This also conincided with my later return to the Catholic Church and its Tradition.

I leave Apr. 27 2006 for a second segment of the Camino from Burgos to Leon, and will finish with a third segment from St. Jean Pied de Port to Pamplona, and then Leon to Santiago.

Stjepo Martinovic, Zagreb, Croatia

Once I promissed to myself I’ll find a suitable time and go to Santiago, perhaps driving to Barcelona and then walking the rest of the Camino… But, various obligations have prevented me for years… Then, suddenly I had a chance, while visiting Vigo on business, to go to Santiao by train – and this I will never forget! I spent just a few hours praying and meditating in the cathedral – as I had to go back to Vigo, to fly home the following day, but I promissed to my self I will really go on foot some day… when I retire, if not at some earlier moment. It is an experience nothing can match to…

Lynne Roberts

Mmmmm, the first time I walked the Camino was in 2001 after I finished my degree. I’d had 4 years of sitting on my bottom and decided a month long ‘walk’ would do nicely. It did. 30 days from St Jean to Santiago IN JULY! Two years later I went back and walked from Roncasvalles to St Domingo. This year I’m going back to walk from Pamplona to Burgos. You gotta go at least once, but many people go back again and again. Bon Camino!

Carlotta (Palermo, Italia)

Ho fatto il Cammino perchè da un anno mi chiamava. Ho percorso il Cammino di Santiago per imparare a camminare nella vita

Brendan – Denver, Colorado, USA

I have done it twice. Once in Summer 1998 alone and another time in Fall 2003 with my wife.

I did it the first time to see if I could. It is not often people in the USA take time off and just go at a leisurely pace. It seems we always have a goal. My goal that time was to go out and give it a try. It was amazing.

My wife had heard the stories and seen the pictures and was interested in seeing it for herself. It was great to do with someone you love. To really share the experience.

I hope to do it again, soon!

Cumpli el camino 2 veces. La primera vez en 1998 cuando me fui solo. Lo hice con ganas de ver si lo podia. El camino en vez de Santiago la meta.

La segunda vez mi esposa y yo caminamos. Fue increible compartir todo con ella.

Espero hacerlo otra vez en unos anos!

Buen Camino!

Gail Ross – Writing from Scotland

For many years a voice had been calling me to the Camino. Books I came across just sang to my soul, walk! walk! walk!. So after great debate about could I do it, could I leave my family for six weeks and the usual fear trigers, I decided that I would give it a go. I didn’t read too much of anyone else’s stories, it has to be your journey. Listening to others sometimes put you off and their fear and their experience will not be yours. Remember it is your Camino. I walked alone and am so glad I did, I felt the peace, had to make my own decisions, let my spirit and God guide me the right way, to the right place at the right time. By the way I was never let down, I always found somewhere to rest my head and somewhere to eat.

It is an incredible journey in terms of scenery and culture but what a wonderful spiritual adventure. My life will never be the same. Fear not, do it, but do it your way!!

Paul lanchbury

I walked the Camino to find myself and to give myself chance to think about the things that really matter. I look back with great fondness and feel proud of my achievements. The journey was filled with richness and the experiences were unique. We still talk about the tough days and wonderful days on the camino, but it made our relationship unbreakable. Best wishes to everyone and I hope you all found yourselves or just had a good time.

I injured my foot 2 days into the walk, but self determination ensured that I finished the journey. People still ask me about the walk and the experiences. I’m still trying to explain.

Maybe that is the point ??? It changed my outlook on life and I remember a Dutch woman saying to me two days walk from Santiago.

” Why waste your life with things that make you unhappy?” She was damn right…The Bullshit stopped and I’ve never looked back.

Judith Brooke

I wanted to do something extraordinary to celebrate the beginning of a new century. And just as I was thinking about this a friend told me of her journey on the Camino. I knew then, that was what I was going to do. I am so grateful that I joined the many thousands who have travelled this incredible trail. I met so many fine people and enjoyed the hospitality of Spain. My first day was hard and I wondered if I was doing something sensible. But I pushed on and each day I knew this was a worthy journey. I am proud that I managed to walk across the plains and up and down the hills in the sizzling heat of July for 18 days. Now whenever I do something at home that feels difficult, I remember that I got through the Camino by placing one foot in front of the other. I didn’t go for religious reasons, but when I was finished I had brightened my spirit. I hope that all who are thinking about the Camino, will take on the challenge and do it for whatever reason, but finish it. The self-pride is overwhelming. You will know very early on the Camino, if you are physically prepared and your shoes are the best you can afford. So do your training well in advance and test your shoes. Life on the Camino is difficult enough without having damaged feet and overstressed muscles or injuries. Never pass a fountain without filling your container as you never now what lies ahead. Take from home energy foods that will keep you going if you have misjudged your next stop.

Roger-Marc BARBIER

With my friend Angel from Casteldefells (Spain), and me from Narbonne (France)we walk again from Leon to Santiago . We meet Renate from Amsterdam on the first day near the Virgen del Camino , the same place where Angel and me 5 years ago we meeted us !!!! Renate was pregnant and came from Pampelona . So all 3 together we finish on the 9 october 2004 . It was another time a wonderful experience and also not easy for the foot !!! But something is so good on the Camino , that I want to walk again . When ? Through this words I want to express all my regards for all the friends we meet this year and also the time before . Special for ROSA and Laura from Logrono If you walk with us on the same time , write me , please , and Bon Camino in your life …. Thank you Rosa , you was my hope and sun ! Roger-Marc

Nick Crawford, minneapolis minnesota

hi, i was 22 and sick to death of college. Me and a friend decided to go on may 6th, we left two weeks later on may 19. My suggestion is leave early in may and avoid the late summer crowds. in may and june may of those kids you will hear about are still in school an can not bother you. also i recommend throwing all your shit away and just have fun. dont worry the camino will provide! sleep outside when you can, dont bother with sleeping in rooms with 50 snoring men. Dont shower to often it gets tedious. laugh, drink, meet fellow pilgrims. dont take it to seriously! dont let the old people bother you. pilgrims come in all shaps and sizes! be prepared for the time of your life. I often find myself dreaming of walking down the road on my way to santiago. Be prepared for a hard adjustment when you get home.


We are in our mid 60s and live in New Zealand. In 2003 we walked from Le Puy to Conques.In 2004 went back to Conques and walked to Pamplona. This year we intend to return to Pamplona in early September complete our pilgrimage then continue on to Finestere.What will the pressure be like on accommadation in September- we experienced no difficulties in France at that time of the year and it was October before we into Spain last year. We have found this wonderful experience particlarly the other pilgrims, their warmth,good humour and friendship and their patience in coping with our poor French and even worse Spanish. For me probably the greatest liberation was for a while living a life without possesions. We had little with us but everything we had we needed. The rythme of the day is almost like meditation and I felt reluctant to return to the real world butlike Peter after the transfiguration we needed to come down from the mountain and return to our responsibilities and too many possesions.


Medjugorje,Bosnia-Herzogovina. I visted the Marian Shrine 2001 and witnessed miracles beyond scientific rationale. I studied Our Ladys messages of praying (daily mass, Bible, rosary) and fasting (bread and water on Weds & Fri). I came to believe in the Sacrament of Confession and Jesus Real Presence in the Eucharist after witnessing events I could not explain. I relearned Purgatory exist. Suffering and offering to God has a purpose.It led me to do the Camino. I spoke no Spanish and totally depended on God’s Providence. go to Medjugorje.com to learn.

Greg and Lynie Tener

Together we walked the Camino de Santiago from Pamplona to Fisterre and back to Santiago in May 2004. Undoubtedly, this was the most amazing experrience of our lives. We walked in all weather conditions including hail, sleet and hot sunshine. Blisters plagued our feet throughout but it seemed that this was almost a necessary part of the journey. Our greatest memories have to be the moments we shared with fellow pilgrims along the way. The discussions were intense and the comaraderie was genuine. We will never forget angus and Mickey and Hans. Of course there was the Spanish ladies and Wil. Then we loved to scorn the “daytrippers” and the french lady who regularly took the bus and found accommodation long before we did.

I still can’t put my finger on it, but something special happens on the camino. It may be spiritual, it may just be intensly human. Whatever it is we will never forget our month of May 2004.

Hola, Emilio Ayestaran, Fla USA

it is a privilege to scan throughout these motivating and reassuring comments.I have completed te Camino Primitivo, Oviedo, Lugo, Friol, Sobrado,Arzua, Santiago, Finisterrae. I highly recomend it, solitud aplenty,bautiful landscapes, beautiful warmsth people, paisajes y paisanajes I did share Cloister life in Venta de Banos y Sobrado dos Montges,.I do share all the reservations about the people taking adventage at the Albergues. I am privliged to work a little bit at winter to afford an alternate place at those occasions. At almost 70 years old, and hiking about 30 kms a day enjoing every step and sigth, it is somewhat agravating to be refused entrance in the Albergue at the end of long day.Quizas`esto sea parte de el Camnino. En la Primavera, hice el Camino de la Plata, Mozarabe, y de san Joao, pero eso es tema para otro dia, Camino duro,solitario, quizas tedioso, but also rewarding, Merida, Caceres, Plasencia, Salamnaca, Zamora La GRanja de Moreruela,Ourense, Santiago y Fis terra. I will be happy yo share experiences. Any how, warmth regards best wisher, ultreia, aurrera, vale:Emilio Ayestaran.


I am 21 years old and I recently cycled the Camino May 12th to June 12th 2004 from Pamplona to Santiago. I am an Art History major at UNC Chapel Hill concentrating in Medieval Art in Northern Spain and received a grant from my department to make the pilgrimage. I went with my best friend, which made the journey all the more meaningful.

It was the most amazing experience of my life and I can’t wait to do it again. I think about the Camino every day. I wish I was back there every day. I know that the Camino will be a major part of the rest of my life because I can’t imagine a minute of my life without it.

Some tips for Future Pilgrims:

– If you are a young female, go with someone!!! Do not make this trip alone. – If you plan to cycle, be very mindful of hikers and remember to alert them when you are on the trail coming up behind them. Thank them for moving, those packs are heavy and hard to move quickly with. Also, yell loud b/c the packs block sound coming from behind them. – Also cyclists, be ready to sleep on the floor, pay for a hostel, or keep moving onto the next town. Hikers get first priority and you may be told to wait until 7 or 8 at night for a bed. (maybe bring a tent, although it gets very cold at night) – Finally, if you plan on cycling, be prepared!! Make sure you know how to fix pretty much EVERYTHING on your bike and that you have to tools to do so. – When you’re packing, take everything you plan on bringing and cut it in half. I can guarantee you will only need 2 changes of clothes and maybe something to wear while those clothes dry. – BRING SUNSCREEN!! – Keep a journal and bring a book to read. – If snoring bothers you, bring earplugs. There are some LOUD snorers and you’re all sharing a room most times.

maria lucia

mi comentario es que el camino de santiago es un gran camino porque yo lo hize y se lo que se siente me gustaria ver cuanta gente se anima a ir aun que esten casados o sean muy perezosos tendrian que ir a hacer el camino de santigo y comprarse una tarta de santiago que porcierto estan buenisimas.La semana pasada pense que aunque este casada y tenga hijos podria ir para que mis hijos y mi marido sepan como es

Bill Clune

I am a 65 year old man from New Zealand, I walked the Camino from 19 May to 22 September 2004, starting in the Black Forest, Germany. Like Piers, I found so much more than anticipated on my Camino and value the experience as one of the most satisfying of my life. In the solitude of the French trails I learned Forgivness, first for myself then others; I learned to have Faith through the many and very small difficulties one meet underway. In Spain, I almost missed the message; it took me two weeks to learn that the Camino was not about me, but others. The most importiant lession was to find an unconditional Love for my brothers and sisters walking with me and by extension all that I met. We all learn that each walks his own Camino, even when we share the same road on the same day. We all have hardships, sarrows and pain.

This is what I learned and when returning home my life was richer, fuller and much happier than it had been when I left. I wish you all a ‘bon Camino’ and much happiness. Love, Bill

Reynaldo ILETO

I am a 57 year-old Filipino teacher working in Singapore. Together with a Japanese friend, we walked from Leon to Santiago on August 18 to 31. It was a wonderful experience from a physical as well as religious point of view, and I agree with most of the positive comments on this site from fellow peregrinos. As others have also noticed, however, the last 100 kilometers were a bit disappointing due to the many walkers (mainly Spanish youths) and cyclists who were just having a fun day trip, talking loudly, rushing to their destinations for free accommodation, etc.. It was towards the end of August, vacation time for most. Sometimes it seemed as if the notion of pilgrimage had been entirely lost. Astonishingly, very few of the people I conversed with had religion in their minds! Furthermore I noticed that, contrary to the universal spirit of Christianity, the camino de Santiago seemed to be an event mainly for Europeans, in contrast to the Muslim haj where pilgims from all over the world converge. Being a Filipino of brown complexion with some Chinese features, a number of times I did not feel welcomed even by fellow peregrinos on the camino. The general public needs to be taught or reminded that Christianity knows no ethnic/racial boundaries. Alas, perhaps this “terror war” we hear about day in and day out may be making Westerners suspicious of alien looking peoples. There were, nonetheless, a number of villagers, peregrinos, and albergue managers who went out of their way to welcome a fellow peregrino from the “oriente”, especially when they learned that I was from “las islas Filipinas,” a former Spanish colony. To them my heartfelt thanks for living up to the true spirit of the camino. I will be there again, in a year or two.


Just got back from the Camino [did Pamplona to Santiago]. Unfortunately I have to agree entirely with the comments made by Sarah and Guerrero. As far as I could see the majority of “pilgrims” cared only about getting their free bed for the night. A typical day for a typical pilgrim consists of a 2-3 hour stampede in the darkness [after waking everyone else up at 5am], then a 3-4 hour wait in a queue outside a refugio. People were actually proud of the fact that they had arrived first in the queue!! In Galicia you also have the hoards of “day trippers” that make it impossible to enjoy the camino -it’s like driving to work in rush hour. Most of the time we preferred to walk in the midday sun or to walk all day, just to have a bit of the camino to ourselves. [On the last day we walked 58km just to get the thing over with -that’s something I never knew I could do!!] Luckily we managed to avoid sleeping on floors but only because we were prepared [and able] to spend a bit of money along the way. My motives were health and fitness and I certainly feel fitter and stronger. The scenery and physical magnitude of the whole thing was also an impressive aspect of the camino but the behaviour and mentality of my fellow “pilgrims” was a big shock and a big disappointment.


I agree with Sarah’s comments I walked the camino for the first time between March and April 2002 and although it was very wet on certain stages it was for me a fantastic experience (and you dont have to be that fit to do it). The second time was in September/October 2003 and this time although again I enjoyed it and met many good people I was turned away from a number of refugios because they were full (Ataperca after walking 30+ Kms). It was mainly due to groups of Spanish youths walking for a few days on the cheap, only staying at refugios where the donation was voluntary and refusing to pay even when the donation box was rattled under their noses. I spoke with a number of hospitaleros who all agreed this was a problem. Also I had the misfortune to share a large part of the way with a large group of older French people who had their luggage driven between stops, and witnessed that just before the refugio they met up with their transport took off their daysacks were given their rucksacks, divided into smaller groups and entered the refugio. Not at all in the spirit of the Camino it should be a life experience not a cheap walking holiday!

Sarah Smith

I agree with the gentleman’s comment that the Camino is starting to develop problems with overcrowding and that wise pilgrims seeking a spirtual or solitary experience will choose alternative routes in the years to come. Now that my body has been conditioned to walk long distances thanks to the Camino, I intend to discover pilgrimage opportunities, in my own backyard (in my case, the mountains, deserts, and rugged coastlines of the Pacific Northwest.)

I started the Camino at Roncesvalles with my fourteen year old daughter in mid June 2004, not knowing it was a holy year. We finished in late July at Santiago. While my experience was overwhelmingly positive, I couldn’t help make some observations about the crowded conditions and the popularity of the Camino as a ‘cheap vacation’ for many, especially the young.

There was a little bit of a race mentality, especially during the last 100 K, in which pilgrims cared little about the way and more about racing to get a free bed at the next albergue.

Too many times, I witnessed older pilgrims, in their fifties or sixties, most of whom had started in distant places near the French-Spanish border, or farther yet, sweat pouring down their faces, getting turned away from an albergue after having walked 35-40 K that day and arriving between 5 or 7 p.m., due in part because hordes of fresh college aged students who had only walked about 15-20 K had filled the albergue’s bed hours earlier, usually between 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. Many of these pilgrims were walking the last 100 K for their compostela.

A line would start forming at these albergues as early as 10 a.m. reinforcing my thought that many pilgrims spend as much time waiting in line for a bed, as they do walking the camino. I was surprised that older pilgrims didn’t receive preferential treatment. But of course, I reasoned that perhaps the older pilgrims could better afford the alternatives, such as hotels. Still, it bothered me to see obviously dedicated pilgrims turned away frequently from albergues, which in my opinion, are one of the truly unique institutions that make the Camino a culturally distinguished destination for perigrino’s. Some pilgrims that I spoke with thought that the Camino is being promoted by Spain as an economic development tool for economically hard-hit area’s of Northern Spain.

People who share this concern should counsel would-be pilgrims about the multitude of opportunities to discover and start their own pilgrimage routes, whereever they may live. Standing in lines with bus tourists, and hugging a statue of a dead saint, who many historians claim is not likely to buried in Santiago to begin with, is a let-down experience compared with the day to day experience of eating simply, engaging with strangers who later become friends, and walking every day for thirty days or more, while you discover that your body is a lot more resilient than you thought, even if you have spent the last twenty years sitting in front of a t.v and/or computer, eating junk food, or otherwise letting your body go. This kind of experience can be had in many different locations, not just the Camino. If anything, the Camino’s greatest gift is its power to teach pilgrims about the universal power of walking as a form of self discovery. Our world has become too fast. Walking is a remedy.

Sheila Devlin

Hello, I am 58 and have walked part of “The Way” a couple of times…does anyone want some company Summer 2005..has to be school hols tho’…the Camino gets in your blood…church goer, love history and am friendly with a sense of humour….am happy walking alone but friends and son freaked out at the thought!!!! will be starting in Leon prob…I am English so would set off from here. The Camino is more than just a long walk..the people, culture. friends encountered as well as everything else make it an experience to be treasured for all times. Would love to hear from anyone anyway just to share experiences and thoughts. Sheila

Emilio Ayestaran

desde Florida,USA,how encouraging are all of these comments.Ijust come back fron my fifth Camino, Merida,la v ia de la plata, el camino sanabres y el de san joao da cova, hasta Fisterra y Tourinan. En anos pasados hice en pedacitos el camino desde San Juan de Pie de Puerto, oh sorry, hasta or to Ifisterra and then since Oloron, samport, to estella.I need help about septermber 04 i dream of doing the trekkig from Ovieda,Camino Primitivo, to Santiago Fisterra, and to prove my 69 years, El Camino del Norte, on about may 05: any ideas, any help other that what I may found in the guides? I will remain very gratefull for your kindness. Oh by the way! why do i do this crazy thing? in the solitude of a Cloister at Oseira, Ourense, i found the anwser,Not the challenge, both espiritual not physical, noit de living at the edge of the knive,not the intelectual feat, neither the intelectual thirst Como alguien dice mas arriba, es proque nopodia hacer otra cosa, or as Loli Monasterio said when at Foncebadon, porque me amuela, me guista, no pudiera hacer otra cosa, it is e retrean into myself, A Santiago se vapero no se llega, where you really travel is into yourself, and no doubt there is Someone who ligts up your mind for you,the beauty ode the paisajes y paisanajes el bullicio de los pajaros, los alicientes de llegar, el placer de las cenas en comunidad al anochecer,nothing compares to you being alone with your creator and yourself. God bless, ultreia,adelante. Warmath regards, best wishes,Emilio

Ruud van Batenburg

Hi, I’m a 61 years old, dutch fellow, who lived a longer time in Spain (and now in Germany). Among others, I volunteered as a verger in a catholic church there and found out my nearness to St. James, so I decided to walk. I did it 3 times and I loved it every time more. Started with Ponferrada-Santiago (205 kms) in 2000, I walked in 2002 from León (340 kms) and in 2003 from Pamplona (720 kms) – and I’ll go another time -please God- coming year, I like to start in France. Besides this, I worked as a “hospitalero” in different “refugios”, which was a good social work and funny as well. Why I went? Well, because I believe in the Lord, but also because I had to change my life (what I did then in 2002) and because I had to think about the years I passed and the little years left: what shall I do untill “the end”. I found out all the answers and so I like to say, that you should go to do the Way to Santiago if you have any problem or question you like to resolve – it will help you, I’m sure.

Pippi Kim

i am probably one of the youngest people to have walked 893 km on the Camino, i was 8 yrs old at the time and walked it with my mum krista, my older sister Nelli and my younger brother Noah. We walked the Camino in the year 2000. We walked the Camino to celebrate the year 2000, after my mum read a book called “The Field Of The Star” by Nicholas Luard. She was touched by his regret that he had not spent much time with his late daughter. We wanted to use the time on the Camino to talk and know each other; these days people like us are lucky to have a bedroom of our own, plenty of space, plenty of food and so on, but my mum wanted us to understand that we didn’t need any of those things to be truly happy! I’m still only 12 yrs old but the people i met will always be very special, in particular, Wolf. This summer we shall walk the Portugese route. God bless all those who read this.

James Lowe

I have just returned from the Camino(24th april-16th may 2004), and already it has changed my life in so many ways. I walked with my father, and this was the initial reason for doing the walk, but having walked from Pamplona, doing the 8 hours per day with so much time to reflect and think about life, home, family and my children, I now have many other reasons for completing the way. You will meet many people that in your normal life you would probebly pass over, and this is part of what has changed me. When I arrived in Santiago, having completed my camino, I was over come with so many emotions, and I was not alone. You see the faces of the past weeks and happyness that has made the whole experiance almost undescribable.

I hope and pray that everyone that does the camino and follows the way enjoys and loves every second of it. It will change your life, you may not know it before you start, but I promise you it will change you.

Many prayers and love for all who follow the way


I undertook the last 65k or so of The Camino a couple of years ago.

I thought it would be an interesting adventure which a bunch of mates invited me to go on. I never realised before I went what a landmark in my life it would be and that it would show me the world through such opened eyes.

Since completing the route and returning to London, I have often forgotten my lessons learnt and this always results in my tripping right over; but it never takes me long to re-find myself and remember my way.

Everything I do and learn builds on my experience of this inexplicable journey, which brought my life into a new light took me forward.

I never knew I could handle or enjoy a cold shower or eat such a megre and repetetive diet without caring at all; or endure any pain in my knees so easily. I’ve also never seen people deal with things like 21 bilsters on one foot so gallantly.

The brotherhood between strangers (which of course none of us are) was most unusual to experience and heavenly to see. Heavenly to find oneself unafraid of the fellow traveller and able to be accepted by and enjoy all the varied souls we met along our way.

Definitely helps you focus your mind on seeing what’s important. I think it’s called “The Way” for a reason.

Lisa Hagood

It is May 15, 2004. I leave to do the camino for a second time in 2 days and am so excited. I am taking a group of 14 people from the United states with me. The Camino gives you something that is so refreshing and different from anything else. It is a gift of simplicity and spirituality. The Camino provides what you need when you need it and I am grateful to let go and enjoy the walk again.

Lee Alison Crawford

A dear friend had always wanted to walk the camino so my partner and I decided we would join her. Besides, I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on the Old French Song of Roland so it made sense to start at Roncesvalles, Spain and walk this medieval camino. I went as a pilgrim in the sense of needing a lot of time to sort out interior life things. I am also clergy so it was a chance to have seven-eight hours of uninterrupted time with God. When I got to Santiago and left at a side altar the small slips of prayers that people had given me before I left and I had carried with me all that way, I felt that I was also leaving part of myself there too, which felt right. I only returned from Spain last night so know I haven’t really sorted out what walking the camino meant though I know that I will definitely go back and do it again. The tree of us walked a total of 345 km (skipping all the flat parts from Estella all the way to Rabanal del Camino where we picked again to walk all the way to Santiago). My only problem was major blisters on my pinky toe but the two others got tendinitus in their knees. Downhills are a bummer. It was so amazing to know I was part of a great chain of people who, over the years, have walked the same path. You may not find all the answers to your heart’s questions and concerns but walking this old path is the journey which leads you to greater journeys in life so, as so many people said to us as we walked along, ‘Buen camino.’


Porque lo hice la primera vez? La verdad es que no lo se, un poco por recuperar la forma física, otro por escapar de los ajetreos diarios y quizás también por saber en realidad quien era yo. Tras pasar un verano del 99 solemnemente vació y carente de perspectivas y no el no saber en que ocupar mis días de vacaciones que no fuese lo clásico de no hacer nada (cosa normal en los días de asueldo prolongado), cocí mis frustraciones el saco de dormir y mi silla de ruedas y pensé, NOS VEMOS EN SANTIAGO¡¡ La experiencia fue dura pero gratificante, allí pude comprobar la soledad del hombre consigo mismo y con su entorno pasando al inmediato y placentero encuentro con uno mismo. Los avatares que un peregrino puede pasar, son inerrables para personas que no hayan estado en sus mismas condiciones de soledades y de objetivos; Y el terminar una peregrinación no es el final, más bien es el principio de una nueva forma de afrontar la vida con una perspectiva más amplia y unos objetivos más concretos. Y es por lo que una vez más. Pero con una idea más clara de los fines que reporta el Camino me lanzo a la aventura y al encuentro conmigo y mis semejantes. En septiembre NOS VEMOS EN EL CAMINO¡¡ Juan www.ultreya04.tk

Gernot van der Meulen

Dear friends, Last year, I made my Camino by bicycle. I left my car at Saint Jean Pied de Port, and wrote the Camino Frances from 10th to 22nd of July when I arrived at Santiago de Compostela. The way back to my car I used the bus. The joy and the experience I had on my Camino, changed my live absolutely. There are several aspects, which motivated and accompanied my Camino, such as the religion, the art, the culture, the nature, the sports. But the most important experience was, that I got a feeling to be a part of the great family of pilgrims with all there various possibilities of communication. By meeting so much different people going the same way, in the same direction, I got the idea that must be the solution of peace in the whole world. Perhaps on my way at home, I had a miracle, because just after starting something happened to me. I had an accident with my car, but fortunately, nothing happened to me at all. My car remained in France to be disposed of. Concerning myself, I am sure, that Saint James waked above me who saved my life. If you are able to understand German, I invite you to look at my website: www.van-der-meulen.info I wrote a diary, about my pilgrimage to Santiago This year with the aid of God and St. James, I already think over a new pilgrimage to Santiago. On bicycle, I shell start from Belgium to cross whole the France from north to south on the “via touronensis”. In perhaps 30 days, I have to go about 2000 km Can you imagine my enthusiasm and my motivation? I greet you all with: “e ultreya, e suseia deus aia nos.

Colleen Shannon

Why did I walk the Camino? It started like this. One day in February of 2001 I was at my town library when I picked up a magazine that had an article about Shirley MacLaine and her pilgrimage to Santiago. I was reading the article with detached interest when I turned to the second page and glanced down at a map of Spain with the Pilgrimage route marked on it. The instant my eyes fell on the map the world around me seem to pause and I felt like I had been wrapped in a cocoon of stillness. I thought, “I know this.” This thought made no sense to me because I had never heard of the Pilgrimage or of the Camino nor had I seen a map of the route until a second before. Then I thought, “I’m going to do this,” and realized that the stillness I was feeling wasn’t around me but inside me. It was a feeling of calmness and peace like I had never experienced before. I felt as if a door had opened, a door that I had been waiting to open, and that I was being invited to come inside. The whole thing was a little frightening but by the end of October of that year I was in Santiago after completing the walk myself.

Why did I walk the Camino? Because there was no way I could not.

Kevin Crampton & Aurelia

We completed our camino in 2002, motivated by a love of trekking through beautiful scenery, but also viewing it as an act of spiritual devotion/discovery.

8 hour days of walking through the wonderful countryside leave a lot of time for self-reflection and prayer/meditation, enhanced by the fascinating people we met along the way.

The whole experience left us feeling really refreshed and inspired.

Sanna, Finland

I did the camino in May-July 1999 and that is the most important thing I have ever experienced. Before the walk my life was not good. I had lost the connection with myself. I was afraid of practically everything: people, relationships, new places, future, and felt like I couldn’t control my life. I had wanted to go to the camino since I heard of it few years before, but it took a long time to find the courage for it. I was not in good shape and had never been abroad alone (I was 25 yrs then). However, alone I wanted to do the trip, and afterwards I knew that it was the right decision.

For me the camino was finding my true self. (Some people might call it finding the god…) In the loud and affluent everyday life of a modern man, it may be difficult to really hear oneself and understand what is important in life, but the camino made that possible. Walking was the thing – it was amazing to realize what kind of happiness it is possible to achieve just with some small things in the backbag, two healthy feet and a way to go. The less is more – I hope I could fulfil that philosophy in my whole life. In addition to the euphoria over walking, I enjoyed meeting lots of extraordinary people on my way. I felt that on the camino many people were in a mood for deep and interesting conversations. The third thing that had a strong effect on me was the history of the camino. It was impressive to walk the same route that had been walked since the middle ages by millions of pilgrims.

After two months meditative walking, I didn’t enjoy arriving Santiago de Compostela, even if it is a beautiful town. All the pilgrimage kitsch sold there and the crowds of tourists made it not sacred to me. However, I think that while the physical camino led only to Santiago de Compostela, the spritual camino showed me a route to my own heart.

I always miss the camino. I would do the walk again, but unfortunately the first trip caused some injuries on my knees… Lately, I have however started to excerice yoga and I’ve found it very similar process with walking the camino. Spiritual and physical elements of a person unite allowing a strong feeling of consciousness and being alive.

Everton de Brito Dias

I’ve done the Camino because…it’s inside myself a strong urge of travelling, learning about History, Mankind and meeting people. People you meet along the Camino are very particular. Way before the term “Globalization” (so waste), the Camino already showed people from all over the world as brothers and sisters. It’s not about Religion, it’s about “re-link” to your self.

Trish Stewart

I did the camino from Le Puy to Finisterre in May to July of 2003 with my best friend Angie. She came along because I called her and said “I’m going to walk across France and Spain and I think you should come.” I don’t really know why I did it, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I suppose, after graduating university, I needed some time to think about what is next. This trip was also sort of a reward to myself for graduating (although I now have the knees of an 80 year old). And I think I also needed some time to get to know both God and myself better. And I certainly did have time. I didn’t realize how loud my life was and how much I avoided silence and contemplation by always having music or the television or some kind of background noise. But after the first week or so of absolutely no internet (we didn’t find an internet cafe till espalion), email, radio (except in food stores), newspapers, or television, I realized that I could survive quite nicely without these things. Of course, now I’m back to my normal, media filled life but somehow these things are just things now. I suppose I also learned how little I am in control of my life and the circumstances around me and how much I still need to learn about trusting God. We had never been to europe before this trip, Angie spoke conversational french (I don’t), and neither of us knew spanish. We arrived in paris in the morning, le puy (through 2 trains, 1 bus, and 1 very drunk frenchman) at midnight, found a hotel, and started walking the next day. Our guidebook had no real maps, just descriptions of what the terrain was like and it was a bit out-dated (I have no sense of direction-I get lost in a mall). Being from canada, our cell phone didn’t work so we had no way to make reservations at the gites but we always had a place to stay. I left behind (not on purpose) various useful articles at gites and albergues: a t-shirt, my all purpose camp soap, my only sweater, our only pocket-knife. We found out very quickly that french and spanish food stores are often closed exactly when you’d like them to be open. These experiences were frustrating to me (Angie is more level-headed then I am) but they gave us chances to meet local people and share food and friendship with other pilgrims. They also taught me that God always provides, although maybe not in the way we’d expect. Oh yeah, Angie and I are still best friends and once I’m done graduate school, we’re walking from canterbury to rome.

Theresa Moloney

Why did I do the Camino? For peace, to get some quiet time and to get in touch with my spirit again. For I had forgotten. Below is what it was like for me.

Santiago de Compostela is also known as “The Field of the Star” and upon visiting this beautiful city in Spain, it is immediately apparent how appropriate the title is.

The first thing I noticed was the friendliness of my fellow pilgrims on the “Camino” as they always took the time to shout a friendly “Hola” to everyone they met along the way. The phrase of the Camino was to be heard also – “Buen Camino”. I knew instinctively what this meant – Have a good Camino, I wish you well, I hope this experience that you have as you walk the Camino de Santiago is a good one. This was heartfelt and there was a strong sense of camaraderie. In a way, we were all on the same journey.

It was a journey that took me through many different terrains. The most impressive of these was through Spain’s forests of chestnut, oak and pine trees. The trees were a beautiful fresh green that seemed to breathe life and energy. It was very difficult to fail to be touched by the beauty. It was everywhere – in the early morning mist, in the haze of the sun as it began to stream through the trees illuminating a new day, in the bubbling streams and rivers that flowed energetically along the Camino.

I experienced such simplicity in the way of life of the villagers I passed each day that I felt privileged to be a part of it. Walking through dense forest I would, without warning, come upon a simple little village and wonder could a car even reach this tiny village. I was struck by the simplicity of the woman washing her clothes in the river – her movements slow and deliberate. She merely looked up at us and continued her work. I felt that these people possessed something that we in Ireland so often lack. There was a restfulness about their soul – they seemed content.

On the last day, I got up at 6am and set off in the pitch dark, as the sun didn’t rise until about eight. I walked through dense forest with the light of a torch. Lights ahead of me and behind me provided comfort. It was never frightening – being in the forest in the black of night. Instead it was special, it was beautiful and it was heart-warming to see light ahead and light behind.

It felt like I was in the right place. We were all going in the same direction, striving for one single goal – to reach the field of the star for whatever reason.

Once in the city, I left a small side street to enter a vast, breath-taking square with beautiful stone buildings. The cathedral stood out most for me and it was here that I went to mass. It was an ornate, beautiful and restful place. I needed to rest.

Afterwards I received my Compostela. This Latin document confirmed that I was a pilgrim who, for the last five days, had walked to Santiago. But for me it was what it symbolised that was important– sacrifice, joy, beauty, a wealth of new experience and new beginnings. I took it carefully as the official smiled at me “Ah you are Irish”, he said. “Here is your Compostela. Congratulations.”

It felt good.

Mariusz Wesolowski

Hello everyone,

I have just read the comments on this board, and what struck me most was the fact that quite a few people mentioned the books by Shirley MacLaine and Paulo Coelho as their inspiration to walk the Camino. Apart from the fact that, to the best of my knowledge, Paulo Coelho has never personally done that, both books are simply too old to reflect accurately the current reality of the road.

I walked from Pamplona to Logroño at the beginning of May 2003. To make a long story short, I found the Camino overcrowded and turned at best into cheap vacations, at worst into a tourist trap. I believe that people seeking a spiritual experience should forget about the camino francés and turn to the (still) less trodden paths such as el camino de la plata, or el camino inglés.

Lisa Hagood

Today is July 7, 2003. It is approximately 12:05am in Los Angeles, CA. We leave Wednesday morning 07/09/03 for the Camino. I am going with my good friend, Abby. We recently hiked a rim to rim to rim of the Grand Canyon in 2 days(approximately 48 miles – 24 each day) and I experienced something I can’t quite explain. When Abby told me about the Camino, I was in. It is the middle of the night, I can’t sleep and I am reading why everyone else has gone on this walk and I am quite choked up. I, too, feel I am at a new beginning and can’t wait to just put one foot in front of the other for the next week. Simplicity is a gift. I hope to see some of you on the trail!

Simon Egan

I am starting the camino at st.Jean-pied-de-port on the 8th of july 2003, having been inspired by paulo coehlo and another great book called ‘pilgrim snail’.I’m at something of a crossroads in my life, and hope to find time to think and grow on the way to santiago. Lots of useful information is available from the confraternity of st.james, the british pilgrim association, www.csj.org.uk. For those who are interested, I intend to keep a blog on the way, you can read it at – https://stjamespilgrimage.blogspot.com.

When I get back, I’ll leave another message to tell you what it was like!

suzanne bradbury

hi there,this is all new to me,i am a committed christian,have climbed mt sinai 7 would love to do the camino in 2004. i,m a real estate agent in applecross western australia,56 years young 7 single.your stories are inspiring.i love to travel and have reached the stage in my life that i only want to do real trips away from the tourist traps and something that will stretch my faith even further.i have studied the desert fathers and find it all fascinating.this is my first go at sending an email,my assistant had to set it all up for me.i hope when i press the button it all happens as it should.if there is someone out there who might like to do the trail with me please contact me on email or mobile 0411601939,god bless.

naomy ruiz

I will be starting the Camino around at the begining of july 2003. I will start from Roncesvalle. After reading Shirley Mclaine’s book, I decided to live that experience. I’m exicted and looking forward to beging this journey.It will be a life time experience.

Julian Lentaigne

I did the camino for several reasons. I first walked a small bit of it as part of a cheap holiday as a student. But having a taste, I vowed to come back and complete it. Two years later, I left my job in London, walked the camino, and am now studying to be a doctor. The camino did not give me any new answers, but it gave me time to think, to be alone, and to have the joy of just putting one foot infront of the other for twenty six days.

My one piece of practical adivce is this: Buy Zinc Oxide tape. This tape can be bought from most pharmacies (Boots in UK), and is normally used for taping bandages etc. But what you do with it is tape it to potential pressure points on your feet (ie where blisters usually form) BEFORE YOU GET BLISTERS. The layer of Zinc oxide acts as a dry lubricant, and will prevent any friction on your skin. This plus plenty of foot powder, and changing socks, stopped having a single blister for the entire journey.

I did wear my boots in well beforehand, however.

Lee Higgins

I turned 60 in July 2001 and as a present to myself, I took a trip to Roncesvalles. I, also had read a book on The Camino and afterwards felt, for some unknown reason, that I had to make the journey. What started as a walk in Spain for no particular reason turned out to be a life altering experince. I,ll return again this summer, only now I go to give thanks for the decisions made on the path and acted upon since my return. It should be a different walk this time as I can slow down and enjoy the scenery and spirituality of it all.


Estoy haciendo una colección de historias de peregrinos contemporaneos antes de irme al camino en Mayo. Ya he leido un monton de leyendas, mitos y historias antiguas del camino pero quiero saber como es la experiencia del peregrino hoy en día. Si tienes alguna experiencia para compartir, mandame un mensaje! Gracias a todos!! -Alexis Before leaving for the Camino in May I want to collect histories from modern day pilgrims. I’ve read a ton of olden-day histories, legends and myths but I want to know what it is that keeps the camino alive today. If you have any experiences to share, please send me a message! -Alexis

Janice Cowher Russo 

Over the last three years I have become obsessed with walking the Camino. In June I will be taking classes at the University in Madrid. At the end of the semester I will leave for the hike across the Camino. Did I mention I will be 61 years old in May? I go on this pilgimage seeking clarity for life – or, “what’s it all about?”

Lara Iversen

I read Shirley Maclaine’s “Camino”, and just knew that I was going to walk it as well. It calls out to you… And a few years later, I did, after graduating from high school. And it was truly a life-altering experience. You feel the spiritual energy, and along with the more simple lifestyle, the breathtaking scenery, and the walking, you find yourself. Let me just warn anybody who’s thinking of doing it: Your life will not be the same afterwards… Welcome Life´s changing winds, for it can truly be a miraculous gift.

Laara Delain

When I first heard about the Camino I knew that walking along a spiritual path was just what my soul was craving. I did the Camino in June of 2001 and loved it even though my feet took a beating. The experience truly changed my life and what a fabulous way to truly see Spain and all its beauty and culture. I met so many wonderful life long friends. After completion I volunteered as a hospitalera in Torres del Rio and also in Ventosa, La Rioja which is where I met my husband Phillip Cree who is from Scotland. We now live in Vancouver, Cananda but miss the Camino everyday. We want to return and share our experiences with others so we created a website to be guides for pilgrims. Check it out! www.laara.ca Love to hear from you!

Phil Finnegan

I did the camino in July/August of 2001 and my experience was fantastic. Unfortunately I had to deal with the whole 9/11 disaster two weeks after the most uplifting time of my life. I am a film student in Galway, Ireland. I was a character in a documentary made by fellow film students. There were seven of us and at time the going was really difficult. After a week walking I developed a huge blister on my heel the size of the millenium dome in London. I went to a doctor in Los Argos who told me not to walk for a week. For three days i took the bus until Logrono and I met a fellow pilgrim who had a remarkable tendency to heal. The following day I was back walking. Anyway, the documentary was aired on Irish television in December 2001. I met some fantastic people along the way, many of whom i still keep in touch with and others who i unfortunately lost contact with. I hope to do the camino again some day because it was a very special time for me. If I was to do it again I certainly wouldn’t carry 15lbs of weight on my back. I would bring a pair of shorts, four pairs of thick socks, three t-shirts, 1 warm sweater, a light rain jacket and a light compact sleeping bag. You don’t need much money. Even if you cannot afford the refugios and albergues you can kip outside under the cool midnight moon. Best of luck and buen camino. If you would like any information or if you would simply like to exchange experiences about the camino- don’t hesitate to contact me… Philip Gerard Finnegan- Galway, Ireland, age 26, 2003

paule guerard

I dedided to walk the camino as a reward to myself after seven years of hard school work, and a newly found singlehood. I ran out of time and completed only 550kms, and so i am returning in april of this year to redo the whole camino from roncevalles. As many have said the scenery is spectacular, the people are real. I have found both my writing and painting greatly inspired, and i feel that walking the camino again in this time or international turmoil might do some good. Hope to meet you along the way ! Buen camino !

Matt Deveney

why i went on the camino. hmm. two of my sisters did it in fall of 2001. so.. my youngest sister and myself, the brother, decided we too could do it in the fall of 2002. i saw the pictures, i heard the stories, and you know what? i had no idea of what would be in store. the scenery is remarkable. breathtaking, absolutely breathtaking. from the small white houses with the red clay roof tops in france to the ruined villages in the mountains of spain. its all so beautiful, including the people that live there. my sisters had told me the first day was the hardest, and thats for sure. we got through it tho. (although we started at noon with no food and basically no water, we were only supposed to go an hour to the next village but we ended up walking all the way to roncevalles, got in about 10pm. nothing like being lost without supplies on the very first day! in the end it just made that first day all that more memorable). one thing i did learn there are no easy days on the camino, some are just harder than others. and how that really parallels life in so many ways. my life grew with every passing day on the camino. i went with no expectations and walked away with maturity, respect for God, humble to his bidding, also a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and memories of the most wonderful people i ever met in my life. i am 31. i hadn’t done anything for 10 years. no atletic activity what-so-ever, and i managed to walk 500 miles with a 30 lb (?) backpack on me and probably 40 pounds overweight. best diet ever, the camino. i lost over 30 pounds in 29 days of walking. i can’t say why i did it. because i don’t know what got into me that i said yes to my sister when she asked me to do it with her. but i did say yes. and three weeks later (end of sept.02) i was on my way from boston to paris, from paris to st. jean and all of a sudden i was walking and… i made it (not one bus ride). a blessed journey. if your thinking about doing this, DO IT! i will be doing it again sometime soon.

peace, matt

Piers Nicholson

I decided to go on the Camino because I had recently retired from the job I had been doing for 30 years, and I wanted some big project to mark this “life passage”. The Camino fitted in well – I like walking, I speak “shopping Spanish” and was keen to get a lot more practice to improve it, and for the first time, there were cheap air fares to Biarritz and also Bilbao. There was no spiritual component at this stage – but that side grew on me, seeing all the cathedrals and monasteries, the faith and hard work and enormous resources devoted to the salvation of the souls of the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims inevitably seeped into my soul. Though a Protestant, I went to Mass several times along the camino, and was blessed at the service at Ooncesvalles, and acknowledged anonymously at the Pilgrim Mass in the cathedral in Santiago – this too gave me a sense of some deeper purpose to the whole enterprise. In retrospect, I think the main reason I went on the Camino was to learn afresh that many of the trappings of civilisation are not necessary (or often conducive to) happiness. With minimal equipment, and the company of like-minded souls, one can be very happy, and learn that the really important things in life are to help and be helped, to like and be liked, to love and be loved.

in 2003. I walked the Camino aragonés from Oloron Ste. Marie near Pau in France, through Somport and Jaca to Puente La Reina which I passed through the previous year. During this journey, I wrote a poem which expressed my feelings about the Camino:

When we started, we did not know – exactly – why we were doing it

We had lives which were – more or less – satisfactory

We had friends known much of our lives

We had children – changed from chrysalis to butterflies

We had things:

things like machines

things like music

things like pictures

things like shelves full of books

things like money and pensions and security

We did not have one thing – and maybe that was why we started

When we started, we put one foot in front of the other

We still did not know – precisely – why we were doing it

The miles passed – many of them pleasantly

Our feet blistered and were slow to heal

Our ankles turned on loose stones

The rain beat its way through our clothes

The cold chilled the marrow of our bones

Some nights, refuge was hard to find

Some days, miles of hot dust had no fountains

When the first few of many long days had passed

We found – without words – that we no longer walked together

That together we spoke in our own tongues –

and often of things we had left behind where we began

That together we shut out new experience with the wall of our togetherness

That alone we spoke in other tongues and of our common experience

That alone we were open – open with interest and curiosity.

Often we met – with gladness – at the end of the day

To know our paths went on together was enough

When we got to the cathedral we sat down

We saw – through the eyes of those long before us

The blinding faith, the crucial thirst for salvation

The tower slowly closing off the sky

And we counted our blessings – several hundred of them

Starting with the kindness of ordinary people on the way

And with the warmth of other travellers on the road

Travellers not at all like us – not in age, not in origin, not in interests

But warm across all these distancings

And ending with the friendship and love

We had left behind where we began.

When we got to the sea at the end of the world

We sat down on the beach at sunset

We knew why we had done it

To know our lives less important than just one grain of sand

To know that we did not need the things we had left behind us

To know the we would nevertheless return to them

To know that we needed to be where we belonged

To know that kindness and friendship and love is all one needs

To know that we did not – after all – have to make this long journey to find this out

To know that – for us – it certainly helped

written near Sanguesa, Navarra, September 2003