My Travel Guide to the Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago Landscape

502 miles, 47 days, and 25 blogs later, I present to you my travel guide to the Camino de Santiago. There are many routes to take to arrive at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the destination that hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have been walking to for over 1,000 years. I chose to walk the 482-mile Camino Francés from the border with France, across northern Spain. Then I chose to walk an additional 20 miles up the Atlantic coast in Spain on the Camino Finisterre to Muxía. I include links within each section of this travel guide to my blogs for further reading.

Tips for Planning and for When you are on a Camino:

Camino de Santiago Backpacks Mochilas
These blogs contain information based on my experiences for backpacks, accommodations, footwear, food, water, mileage, hiking poles, The Pyrenees, guidebooks, helpful websites, and more.
My Recommendations and Tips for Walking
From Carrying a Backpack to Mochila Transport Services
Hiking Boots, Sandals, or Sneakers
Reserving Private Accommodations

Navigation:

Camino-de-Santiago-Tips-and-Hints-Yellow-Arrow
The symbolic scallop shell, yellow arrows, cement markers, and other various signs aid in navigation along the Camino. These blogs have more information on these, as well as some fun pictures.
Directional Symbols and Signs
Directional Cement Markers
Scallop Shells and Yellow Arrows

Food and Dessert:

Camino de Santiago Desserts
You will eat well along the Camino. Whether you are a vegetarian or a meat eater. And the desserts, well, all I can say is, “Life’s Short. Eat Dessert First.”
Vegetarian Food
Desserts

Landscape and Town Scenery:

Camino de Santiago Landscape
You will experience some amazing scenery anywhere and everywhere along the Camino. I took over 5,200 pictures. It was hard to narrow it down to choose 22 of my favorite landscapes pictures, and 13 photos of the street scenes from the 166 towns and villages along the Camino Francés.
My Favorite Landscape Photos
Street Scenes from Some of the 166 Towns and Villages

Chapels, Churches, and Cathedrals:

Camino de Santiago Churches
The Camino de Santiago routes are pilgrimages for religious reasons. My pilgrimage was more spiritual, yet I went inside each and every open chapel, church, cathedral, and even a few monasteries during my Camino.
Chapels, Churches, and Cathedrals
Churches and Flowers
The Burgos Cathedral
Dome Ceilings of Some Churches

My Unique Experiences:

The Abbey La Abadia
Sometimes when you travel, even on a Camino, you happen upon some unique adventures. For me, this included spending a few hours volunteering at a 12th century Abbey, and seeing a local festival. My birthday happens to be on Groundhog’s Day, so I also took a picture of Punxsutawney Phil with me in order to enter a photography contest. I wonder how many other people had that unique experience?
Volunteering, and a Love Story, at The Abbey/La Abadia
Floral Carpets of the Corpus Christi Festival in Sarria
Punxsutawney Phil “walked” the Camino de Santiago

Santiago de Compostela:

Camino de Santiago Cathedral Santiago de Compostela
After 482 miles, 42 days, 2 blisters, 6 pairs of shoes, 14 pounds in my backpack, 2 shirts, a sweater, rain gear, 2 pairs of pants, 4 pairs of socks, and a 1 ounce tube of toothpaste, I made it to the destination that hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have been walking to for over 1,000 years. The place where people pay homage to the shrine of Saint James the Great, one of Jesus’ 12 apostles, the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. The other blog in this section is information on how peregrinos obtain their Compostelas by filling their Credencials with sellos as they walk the Camino.
The Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela
Sellos, Credencials, and Compostelas

Camino Finisterre to Muxía:

Muxia Beaches
After the Camino Francés, I took a bus to Finisterre, “the end of the world.” I spent a day there exploring the town, the beaches, and the lighthouse. Then I walked a beautiful 20 miles up the coast to Muxía, filled with views of the ocean, more beaches, and a another lighthouse in Muxía. I also hired a taxi driver to take me to a two extra lighthouses not on the Camino!
Ocean and Beach Scenery of the Camino Finisterre to Muxía
Lighthouses along the Camino Finisterre to Muxía

Word of Wisdom and Souvenirs:

Camino de Santiago Souvenirs Scallop Shell Rose
“Don’t worry. Keep Walking. Love always.” And other words of wisdom found along the Camino. And a collection of some of the small chachkies I purchased along the way.
Words of Wisdom from the Camino de Santiago
Souvenirs of the Camino de Santiago

My Travel Photography Book:

Camino de Santiago Windows and Doors
My favorite subject to photograph when I travel is windows and doors. Out of my 5,200 pictures total taken on my Caminos, 1,300 of them were of windows and doors. This book contains 285 of the best of the best of the best pictures. Translated into Spanish as well, whether you have walked some or all of the many Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes; or are preparing to make a journey; or even if you have an interest in the Camino de Santiago, Spain, or windows and doors, I hope the pictures in my book either bring back enchanting memories, or are inspiring to you.
“Windows and Doors of the Camino de Santiago”

Conclusion:
Despite a few blisters, my 502 miles and 47 days were more than I could imagine. If you have taken the Camino Francés, the Camino Finisterre to Muxía, or any of the other Camino de Santiago routes, I am sure your life has changed, as mine did. If you are thinking about taking a pilgrimage, I hope my blogs have provided you with some helpful information, and inspired you to go. If you have just enjoyed reading any, some, or all of my blogs, perhaps they have inspired you to decide to go, to go somewhere else, or perhaps you just enjoyed reading them and looking at my pictures. In any of these cases,

Muchas Gracias! Buen Camino! Ultreïa et Suseïa!
Sweet Travels!

My Book: Windows and Doors of the Camino de Santiago

Ultreïa et Suseïa. Onwards and Upwards. An exchange between pilgrims – one says “Ultreïa,” the other says “et Suseïa.” Encouraging each other to keep going, to walk further. In my interpretation, to keep moving forward, and to strive higher.

Camino de Santiago Windows and Doors

In my new book, “Windows and Doors of the Camino de Santiago,” I talk about these great words, Ultreïa et Suseïa. I also have 285 pictures of the best of the best of the best of my 1,300 windows and doors photographs from my Camino de Santiago walks. Windows and doors are my favorite subject to photograph when I travel.

Camino de Santiago Windows and Doors

Camino de Santiago Windows and Doors

In my book, there are a variety of pictures about windows and doors…for example, many with beautiful flowers and plants…some with geometric patterns…some modern, some old and abandoned…some with chairs and benches…some with hearts…and windows and doors that anyone who has walked the Camino would be able to relate to and recognize – with the symbolic scallop shell, the directional yellow arrow, the stone marker, churches and chapels, street names, images of Santiago, even backpacks and encouraging words of wisdom.

Camino de Santiago Windows and Doors

Camino de Santiago Windows and Doors

Camino de Santiago Windows and Doors

Camino de Santiago Windows and Doors

Translated into Spanish as well, whether you have walked some or all of the many Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes; or are preparing to make a journey; or even if you have an interest in the Camino de Santiago, Spain, or windows and doors, I hope the pictures in my book either bring back enchanting memories, or are inspiring to you.

Camino de Santiago Windows and Doors

Camino de Santiago Windows and Doors

Camino de Santiago Windows and Doors

Camino de Santiago Windows and Doors

Camino de Santiago Windows and Doors

Camino de Santiago Windows and Doors

Camino de Santiago Windows and Doors

Camino de Santiago Windows and Doors

“Windows and Doors of the Camino de Santiago” is available on Amazon for $15.00.

Buen Camino!

Sweet Travels!

For more blogs about my 502-mile, 47-day journey across northern Spain and up the Atlantic Coast, please visit my Camino de Santiago category.

 

Souvenirs of the Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago Souvenirs Scallop Shell Rose

I enjoy buying little trinkets when I travel. Small enough to fit in a backpack, without adding a lot of weight. Even when I used mochila transport services on the Camino de Santiago. These small chachkies are great ways for me to keep the memories alive as I display them around my house.

Camino de Santiago Souvenirs Scallop Shell Beads

On the Camino de Santiago, the scallop shell is a significant symbol. They say that the contours and features of the scallop shell represent the converging of people from all over the world, bound for a common destination, the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. Used as one of the directional symbols to aid in navigation, people also wear the scallop shell, usually hanging from a backpack, to symbolize that we are pilgrims.

These are the scallop shells that I wore on my two Camino journeys on my backpack:

Camino de Santiago Souvenirs Scallop Shells Pilgrim

In the two pictures at the beginning of this blog, I was quite pleased when I found decorative scallop shells. One painted with beautiful roses, and one in a necklace with beautiful beadwork. I also bought a few bracelets with tiny scallop shells charms:

Camino de Santiago Souvenirs Scallop Shells Bracelets

A woman I met hand-makes greeting cards with the scallop shell woven in string:

Camino de Santiago Souvenirs Scallop Shell String Card

For my husband I bought a pack of cards with inspirational sayings and pictures:

Camino de Santiago Souvenirs Inspirational Cards

As part of a donation, I received this tiny rock with the yellow arrow painted on it, the other significant directional symbol of the Camino de Santiago:

Camino de Santiago Souvenirs Yellow Arrow Rock

I have all my souvenirs of the Camino de Santiago either hanging on my walls, or on shelves for display, enjoyment, and memories.

Sweet Travels!

For more blogs about my 502-mile, 47-day journey across northern Spain and up the Atlantic Coast, please visit my Camino de Santiago category.

Sellos, Credencials, and Compostelas on the Camino de Santiago

Compostela: The word derives from campo meaning “field,” and stella meaning “star,” and thus translates to “The Field of Stars.”

Camino de Santiago Compostela

Much like getting a diploma when you graduate school, once you reach the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, you can get your Compostela. Of course, there are no classes or tests to take, but you do still need to meet some minimum requirements. First, if you are walking on the Camino Francés, you need to have walked the last 100 kilometers/60 miles (staring in Sarria), or if traveling by bicycle or horseback, the last 200 kilometers/120 miles. You also need to obtain a minimum of two sellos per day in your Credencial starting in Sarria. And you need to preferably make the journey for religious or spiritual reasons. Once in Santiago de Compostela, you take your Credencial filled with sellos to the Oficina del Peregrino to get your Compostela. Let me explain these terms in more detail.

Camino de Santiago Sello

 

Peregrino: A pilgrim. A person who makes a journey to a sacred place for religious reasons. One who walks any of the numerous routes of the Camino de Santiago.

Camino de Santiago Sello

Sellos: Ink rubber stamps. As a peregrino walks along, you get these stamps mostly in places of accommodation, such as albergues, as well as in churches and cathedrals, and various food establishments. Each place has a unique sello, and it is fun to see the all the colors and designs of the sellos.

Camino de Santiago Credencial

Albergue: A place of accommodation similar to a hostel.

Camino de Santiago Credencial

Credencial del Peregrino: Pilgrim’s Passport. This is kind of like a passport when you travel, as it is the booklet used to collect the colorful sellos. You can buy these either before you leave for your Camino online, or get them at some churches, main albergues, and tourist offices at the start of your Camino. The Credencials are also to be shown at accommodations. If a peregrino travels a lot of miles and obtains a lot of sellos, they may fill up more than one Credencial, as I did.

Camino de Santiago Credencial

Sarria: This is the town that is about 100 kilometers from Santiago de Compostela, the minimum requirement, and thus it is a popular place to start the Camino Francés.

Camino de Santiago Credencial

Oficina del Peregrino: Pilgrim’s Office. This is the place in Santiago de Compostela where a peregrino shows their Credencial filled with sellos to prove their journey, and obtains a Compostela.

Camino de Santiago Credencial

Compostela: This is like a diploma. It is the official certificate of completion and accomplishment! The Catholic Church issues these to honor the peregrinos who have made the journey on the Camino de Santiago, whether 100 kilometers, 775 kilometers, or more. Your name will be printed on the Compostela in Latin. My Latin name apparently is Deboraem.

Camino de Santiago Credencial

You can actually get a second Compostela that says how many kilometers you walked and the town you started. For me, 775 kilometers from St. Jean Pied de Port! I also believe that if you don’t walk for religious or spiritual reasons, there is a Compostela for non-religious reasons.

Camino de Santiago Compostela 775 km

I also received a Compostela for walking the 20-mile/32-kilometer Camino Finisterre to Muxía.

Camino de Santiago Compostela Muxia

Now, did you get all this information straight about the sellos, Credencials, and Compostelas on the Camino de Santiago? Because if you get your pencils out please, there will be a test.

Camino de Santiago Credencial

Sweet Travels!

Translation of Compostela is from the book “To the Field of Stars: A Pilgrim’s Journey to Santiago de Compostela” by Kevin A. Codd.

 For more blogs about my 502-mile, 47-day journey across northern Spain and up the Atlantic Coast, please visit my Camino de Santiago category.

The Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela on the Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago Cathedral Santiago de Compostela

After 482 miles/775 kilometers, 42 days, 2 blisters, 6 pairs of shoes, 4,800 pictures, 14 pounds in my backpack, 2 shirts, a sweater, rain gear, 2 pairs of pants, 4 pairs of socks, and a 1 ounce tube of toothpaste, I made it to the destination that hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have been walking to for over 1,000 years. The Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.

Camino de Santiago Cathedral Santiago de Compostela

Camino de Santiago Cathedral Santiago de Compostela

My last day of walking the Camino Francés was only 6.5 miles by design. So that when I arrived at the Cathedral I could appreciate all that I have seen, experienced, eaten, and accomplished in my days of walking across northern Spain. So that I could relish in this grand cathedral, the place where people pay homage to the shrine of Saint James the Great, one of Jesus’ 12 apostles. So that I could spend the rest of my afternoon walking around outside and inside a marvelous piece of architecture and art. And so that I could attend a Pilgrims’ Mass.

Camino de Santiago Cathedral Santiago de Compostela

Camino de Santiago Cathedral Santiago de Compostela

The main event that pilgrims attend once they reach the Cathedral, whether after 60 miles, 482, or more, is the Pilgrims’ Mass, usually held at noon, and at other times each day, with some services given in Spanish, others in English. An hour long service and celebration of giving thanks for the journey. The number of pilgrims who have arrived in the past 24 hours are read aloud, including where they started their pilgrimage from, and the country they live in.

Camino de Santiago Cathedral Santiago de Compostela

Camino de Santiago Cathedral Santiago de Compostela

Camino de Santiago Cathedral Santiago de Compostela

At the end of the Mass, the one tradition that has happened since the 12th century, that everyone looks forward to today, is the swinging of the Botafumeiro, a silver-plated brass container filled with burning incense. While an organ plays in the background the “Hymn to Santiago,” eight men called tiraboleiros, pull at a rope in a precise pattern and rhythm so that the Botafumeiro swings from one end of the Cathedral to the other. In only a minute and a half, the Botafumeiro reaches a speed of 42 miles per hour.

Camino de Santiago Cathedral Santiago de Compostela

Camino de Santiago Cathedral Santiago de Compostela

Camino de Santiago Cathedral Santiago de Compostela

While the current Botafumeiro, translated as “smoke spreader” in Galician, is dated from 1851, the burning of the incense of long, long ago was used to purify the air of the Cathedral from the arriving Pilgrims. Today, the entire tradition is one that should not be missed. Between the music, the smell of incense, the buildup of the swinging Botafumeiro to its top speed, and the sense of accomplishment one feels during these moments, I looked back on my 482-mile, 42-day journey, and despite the 2 blisters, I felt very proud of myself!

Camino de Santiago Cathedral Santiago de Compostela

Camino de Santiago Cathedral Santiago de Compostela

Although my journey to the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela on the Camino de Santiago had concluded for me, I had two more journeys to accomplish before I left Spain. One was to take five more days to walk the 20-mile Camino Finisterre to Muxía up Atlantic Coast of northwestern Spain, and relax on the beaches. And the other, to start my journey of my life-after-the-Camino.

Sweet Travels!

P.S. The Cathedral was undergoing some restoration during my time there.

For more blogs about my 502-mile, 47-day journey across northern Spain and up the Atlantic Coast, please visit my Camino de Santiago category.