Pilgrim Passport

Pilgrim Passport Camino de Santiago

After I finished my study abroad program in Spain, I spent a few weeks traveling around Europe (I know, tough life). I dropped off most of my luggage in a locker at the Madrid airport (to pick up later), met up with some friends in Greece and Italy, and then met up with my friend Brandon for my final stop in London before heading home. We spend the first day walking EVERYWHERE. The next day, Brandon was preparing his things to catch a flight later that day to meet up with some other friends (I wasn’t leaving until the following day). He kept jumping between his suitcase, the bed he had been sleeping in at the hostel, and the locker he had kept his things in at the hostel to make sure he had everything.READ MORE

Roncesvalles and Albergues

Roncesvalles albergue Camino de Santiago

After a chaotic weather-delayed day of travel, we finally made it to Roncesvalles only half an hour before our albergue closed for the night. Roncesvalles is the first city on the Camino de Santiago on the Spanish side of the Spain/France border, so it is a popular starting place for many pilgrims. This “city” is basically just an albergue, a church, and a restaurant/bar, but it is gorgeously historic and provides the picturesque albergue experience to start the Camino. They just built a new albergue a few years ago, but they use the old albergue as overflow and I am so happy we arrived late in the evening because we got to stay in it. If you have seen the movie The Way, you will recognize this albergue. The woman who showed us where we would be sleeping was right when she said that the new albergue is nice, but this one is magic.READ MORE

The Camino de Santiago: A History

Now we know who Saint James was, but how did the Camino de Santiago come to be?


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At the beginning of the Reconquista, after the remains of Saint James were found and moved to Santiago de Compostela, King Alfonso II made the way to see the remains and declare Saint James the patron saint of (what would be) Spain. By doing this, King Alfonso II is considered by many to be the first pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago.READ MORE

Who is Saint James?

So who is this Saint James guy and why do thousands of pilgrims walk across Spain each year in his name?

St James

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James, known as James the Great, was one of the first disciples (brother of John the apostle) to follow Jesus and is considered the patron saint of Spain. In a religious sense, James was one of the few apostles to actually witness the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain, was one of the few with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, and is considered to be one of the first apostles to be martyred (his death is the only apostle death recorded in the New Testament).READ MORE

Preparing for el Camino: The Experience

Well here we are. I have been doing my research and blogging my findings on how to preparing for a successful Camino. I have talked about finding the right pair of hiking shoes, finding the right Camino backpack, determining the route, considering an exercise routine, understanding the language and culture of Spain, and keeping in mind what sort of budget you want to set and how that will affect your Camino experience. And now for the last piece of preparation:READ MORE

Chicago Bucket List: The Willis Tower

Chicago Willis Tower

With a quickly shrinking window of time left in Chicago, and a growing anxiety about packing everything and tying up loose ends before we actually moved, the priorities of our Chicago Bucket List became clear. Some things would have to be put on hold for return weekends to visit friends and family, but traveling 1,353 feet into the air for one last glace at the beautiful city I have called home for the past two years was non-negotiable.READ MORE

Preparing for el Camino: The Budget

Camino de Santiago Budget

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So you’re spending a month in Europe, that’s got to be crazy-expensive, right? NOPE!

First of all, the Camino de Santiago is an adventure, not a lavish vacation. There are no plush hotel rooms, out of control shopping sprees, or fancy dinners (unless you want). Once you’ve found your time budget, purchased all your Camino supplies (shoes, backpack, etc), and you’ve got your plane ticket, the cost of living/travel should not be more than your normal life (and hey, if you sublet your house/apartment, that can be a huge help).READ MORE

Preparing for el Camino: The Language

Any time you travel to a different country it’s important to learn at least a couple of key phrases of that country’s language and be mindful of how you will communicate respectfully with locals considering language and cultural barriers. Though some rusty high school Spanish might be enough to suffice for many, Spain is an especially tricky country when it comes to language. Please excuse me if I nerd out a little too hard on this topic, but I love Spanish linguistics!READ MORE