Guest post: Walking the Camino de Santiago – by Janice Meyers Foreman

In this week’s guest post we’ve got for you an interesting account of walking the Camino de Santiago or if you prefer: the St. James Way, one of the oldest and most important pilgrimage routes in Europe .

During our last trip around the Iberian Peninsula, we saw many people walking the Camino and it seems like an interesting and challenging thing to do in one’s lifetime. So if you’d like to know more about it, read Janice’s story below.

Leaving La Virgen del Camino, Spain - by Janice Meyers Foreman, Walking the Camino de Santiago

My husband and I recently completed the Camino de Santiago, sometimes called the Way of Saint James; an 820 km walk from southern France to northwest Spain. Dating back to the 12th century as a Christian pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, regarded as the second most significant Christian city in Europe after Rome. Today about 200,000 people make the journey annually.

For many travelers it is a spiritual journey, for us, it was about the people and places, the architecture and the art, sights, sounds, and food. We traveled through areas of magnificent natural splendor and the major cities of Pamplona, Burgos, León, Astorga and Santiago; all defy the imagination in terms of their beauty and historical significance. During our journey we met many pilgrims and Spanish people. Their kindness and assistance made the journey both easier and memorable.

Cast iron pigrim silhouette statues on the ridge of Alto de Perdon - by Janice Meyers Foreman, Walking the Camino de Santiago, Spain

We underestimated the physical effort that would be required to complete this journey. It began with a crossing of the Pyrenees Mountain to Ronscavelles, then to Pamplona. Advice to carrying no more than 10% of our weight and good boots suddenly made sense. While we were not as afflicted as others, learning to deal with blisters was essential.

Walking through to Burgos and the meseata; the Spanish version of the prairies, we learned to deal with the heat. Rest breaks, and water are essential. We passed over two mountain ranges where the decent through rocky riverbed paths were much more difficult than the climb. The mountain passes of each taking us to places quite different than the one we had just left. Some people complete the journey in 30 days; we took six weeks to walk the Camino.

Our final day - by Janice Meyers Foreman, Walking the Camino nde Santiago, Spain

One reward for our time was to view some of the most exquisite church architecture in the world. Burgos Cathedral built in the French Gothic style was started in the 12th century, with Renaissance parts added during the 15th and 16th century. Themarble columns and deep cut relief panels are in complete contrast to the León Cathedral, a masterpiece of the Gothic style with its 18,000 sq. ft. of stain glass windows.

The Santiago Cathedral, home to the tomb of St. James, provided it’s own memories. The Cathedral was packed with pilgrims, some we had met our journey. During mass the clergy announced the number of pilgrims from each country that had completed the Camino in the last 24 hours.  After mass the clergy swung the botafumeiro; incense smoke, prayers and joy filled the cathedral.  The ceremony was a fitting end to this amazing experience.

Santiago Mass - by Janice Meyers Foreman , Walking the Camino de Santiago, Spain

written by: Janice Meyers Foreman

I am a self taught photographer who has been inspired by great Canadian Photographers like Courtney Milne and Dave Patterson. I also love to travel, meet new people, and taking photos of the people and places is a part of the storytelling. Photography also keeps me present in the moment.

visit her blog at: jmeyersforeman.wordpress.com

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3 comments

  • Janice, great to stumble upon your post here. The censer at Santiago is amazing isn’t it? Looking forward to your shots of the cathedrals in Burgos and León.

  • Sometimes I think that hitchhikers are pilgrims.

    • I would definitely agree. If you hitch hike the emphasis is more on the journey than the destination; a physical journey that, because of the unexpected experiences it leads to, is a naturally a spiritual / inner journey as well.