Camino del Norte, Day 5: The Monastery

Bario Ibiri to Monasterio de Zenarruza: 27 km The final stretch of trail to Zenarruza was steep and paved in what’s called the “original road,” which may look pretty, but any Camino pilgrim will tell you is the absolute worst thing to walk on. Cobblestones are uneven, sinking over time into an ankle-breaking, knee-destroying obstacleContinue reading “Camino del Norte, Day 5: The Monastery”

Camino del Norte: First Impressions

After 21 days (and 21 beds) of travel, I’m home from my third trip to the Camino de Santiago, this time along the Camino del Norte. I’m brutally jetlagged after the 10-hour flight from Paris, but wanted to share some initial impressions before I get lost in the madness of re-entry. (I also need aContinue reading “Camino del Norte: First Impressions”

Le Puy-En-Velay

On the Monday after Easter three years ago, Eric and I arrived in Paris after an overnight flight. We took a train to Lyon, and then another one to Le Puy-en-Velay, one of the oldest starting points of the Way of Saint James, according to the twelfth-century guide for pilgrims—considered one of the earliest travelContinue reading “Le Puy-En-Velay”

Is There a New American Pilgrimage Trail?

A few years ago, if you’d asked me about pilgrimages, I would have had to dig back into history. The word pilgrimage seemed archaic, more appropriate for Chaucer than the twenty-first century, and carrying a backpack for days wasn’t my thing. After I fell in love with the Camino de Santiago, though, the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon*Continue reading “Is There a New American Pilgrimage Trail?”

The Surprising Story Behind the Sculpture on Alto del Perdón

Twelve kilometers after Pamplona, past the fields of grasses splashed with red poppies (or the fields of dry dirt, depending on the time of year), the crumbling monasteries, and the towering hay bales, and up a steep set of switchbacks, the Camino Frances arrives at Alto de Perdón, the Mount of Forgiveness.   I’ve stoodContinue reading “The Surprising Story Behind the Sculpture on Alto del Perdón”

Why Walk to Finisterre?

When Eric and I approached Santiago de Compostela two years ago, the crowds of people around us grew by the day, as did their anticipation. Together we counted down “the last hundred” kilometers to Santiago, where the remains of Saint James waited for us in an enormous cathedral. On the morning of our arrival inContinue reading “Why Walk to Finisterre?”

To Saunter in the Mountains

“People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, theyContinue reading “To Saunter in the Mountains”

A TEDTalk About the Camino de Santiago

I’ve long been a fan of TEDTalks, the annual conference full of “ideas worth sharing,” presented by some of the most interesting people in the world on every imaginable topic. So I’m not sure how it’s taken me a whole month to discover that in TED2017, one of the speakers offered an ode to the CaminoContinue reading “A TEDTalk About the Camino de Santiago”

Hugging Saint James (The Traditions of the Camino)

There’s a lot to do when a Camino pilgrim reaches Santiago de Compostela. You have to find the Pilgrim’s Office, stand in line, and get your Compostela. You have to find a place to stay. You have to find all your friends and take group pictures. You have to go to a pilgrim’s mass atContinue reading “Hugging Saint James (The Traditions of the Camino)”