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During the summer of 2008, Mary and I walked from the French town of St. Jean Pied de Port, over the Pyrenees, across the Spanish Meseta, and into Galicia, to reach Santiago.  Our walk followed the medieval pilgrimage route of the Camino de Santiago, or Way of St James, specifically the French Way.  We didn’t have quite enough time to walk the full way, but we managed about 460 out of the 500 or  so miles, and took a train and bus on two one-day segments.  On the last couple of days, we rented a car and drove out to Finisterre, the end of the world in the Roman days.

A few years before, we walked a part of the Camino in France, from Le Puy to Conques.  That was very different terrain, also beautiful.  Great food!  On that trip, we used Transbagages to take suitcases from hotel to hotel.  On the 2008 trip, we carried everything in light packs.  I’ve been adopting an ultralight approach in the last few years, and really like the packs from GoLite.  We took Pounder sleeping bags from Marmot, and silk sleeping sheets for the hostels (although we ended up in a lot of hotels ranging to 5 stars).  A PackTowl is light and dries quickly.  REI is a good source for gear.

Mary kept a blog during the walk.  It took perseverance because sometimes it was a hassle to find a PC.  I’d brought an iPod Touch to use as an Internet device, but the wireless died on it right away.


  • A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino De Santiago by John Brierley.  We took a copy of this one along.  It’s a little heavy, but has a lot of good practical as well as historical information.
  • The Way of St. James: Camino de Santiago: Pyrenees-Santiago-Finesterre by Alison Raju.  This is of the part of the route that we did in 2008.
  • The UK’s Confraternity of St. James has a bookstore with many titles that are hard to get in the US.  They also have a guide to accomodations that they update yearly.
  • Another way to get a guide to hostels is to ask at the Pilgrim’s Office in St. Jean Pied de Port.  They publish an abbreviated one that is on a single piece of paper (very light!).

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