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El Camino/Santiago around the world


Staff member

I am curious, how did you find out about El Camino and Santiago de Compostela?

I married a girl from the region, so for me this was the way I found out about the town. But I have lived in the US and in Norway earlier, and there is not a lot of talk about El Camino or the town of Santiago.

Xacobeo may have helped, and I know some newspapers in Norway has had a few articles about El Camino.

How did you hear about it, and what made you think that you may want to walk "El Camino".

I am looking forward to hear your story :)

Greetings from a partly cloudy Santiago de Compostela,
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Year of past OR future Camino
1999: Holland-Santiago, 2001 Jakobsweg Switzerland, 2002 GR65 Geneva- Le Puy, 2003 2004 2005 GR65, 2006 Camino Aragones
santiago around the world

Good morning from cloudy and rainy Holland.
Our two cents:
15 years ago I got a book about the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, a historic and cultural view, for my birthday. In 1993 the papers in Holland wrote some articles about Santiago, the Holy Year and the European Heritage of the Camino. My interest was there. We, my wife and I, are hobby-hikers and walked all over Holland, most of the time together with our neighbours. Once, in 1998, we ended up at the very south border of Holland, and looking at the landscape of Belgium we said to each other: Next time we are heading south for Rome or Santiago!
In that winter we made plans to go to Santiago from our border, we took a 'sabbatical' of 4 months and March 22nd 1999 we, the four of us, left home and walked through Belgium, France and Spain to Santiago de Compostela. Juli 6th 1999 we arrived in Santiago.
The 'adventures' of our pilgrimage are (in Dutch) on the internet:
If you don't read Dutch, you can see pictures.

After this our life is a lot of St. James, books and internet.
In 2001 we, my wife and I, started again. Because of lack of time in stages now, during our holydays. But this time we started in Switzerland, Bodensee/Konstanz. We walked the "Jakobsweg" to Geneva,
in 2002 we continued from Geneva to Le Puy-en-Velay, in 2003 from Le Puy-en-Velay to Conques (GR65) and 2004 from Conques to Moissac (GR65). So, in a couple of years we will arrive in Santiago again.


New Member
I usually do mountaineering but because of injuries decided to do something low impact and found out about the Camino on Net search. Also have just become a Catholic, so this will be my first pilrgimage. From a walker's point of view I think it will also be a good experience ( I hope)


New Member
Not much talk in the U.S.

I first heard of the Camino when I saw Shirley McClain's book the Camino in the local bookstore. I had read other books by her and were immediately interested. I knew nothing about it but have since acquired several books on the subject, I felt the calling and look forward to my first Camino. No one I talk to here has ever heard of it so I am eager to do the pilgrimage and share my experience back home.
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New Member
where did I hear about the Camino....

ah...being brought up Catholic, I still had never heard of it until a May 1999 article in the New York Times. In spite of a cranky author, it hit the right note for someone wanting to do something different and meaningful to celebrate a landmark birthday....

and I never looked back...walked St. Jean to Santiago in the Holy Year of 1999 and did LePuy to Conques in 2003, Conques to Moissac in 2004 and after I complete the journey in 2005, I want to do parts of the Via Francigena in 2006....

too bad I never ran into the Brillemans...we were on a similar trajectory...

now with American Pilgrims on the Camino, we sponsor pilgrim gatherings across the US...in May in Toronto, Canada and next year in Boulder, Colorado....


Interesting question...

I had traveled through Europe previously, but had not been able to get to Spain until 2001. I came into Barajas, and found my way to the Gran Via metro stop. I looked at a couple of tumble-down hostales before taking a room in Hostal Residencia Galicia. I had no clue at this point what a 'Galicia' might be, nor did I recognize the hostal's logo: the Cruz de Santiago. The handwriting was already on the wall.

I was supposed to meet my father in Lagos, Portugal and had some time on my own until the appointed hour. It was July, Madrid was hot, and I was looking for some respite from the heat. I went to the RENFE office and activated my Eurail pass, making a reservation for Barcelona. I reasoned it might be cooler on the Mediterranean coast. A day passes, and I rethink Barcelona. I'll be on the train for a night just to get there, in Barca for a day, another night train back to Madrid, a night train to Lisboa, then on to Lagos in the south ... This is nuts. All train, no tourist.

I returned to RENFE and asked if I could change my destination. I described how I needed to get to the south of Portugal, but wanted to be someplace 'cooler' in the mean time. The man behind the desk said "Santiago de Compostela", I said "Book it".

The RENFE TrenHotel rolled into Santiago in the early morning fog, so typical of the city. I pondered the verdant green as we approached, the lushness of the folliage, the coolness of the morning. So un-Madrid-like. Such a different world.

Being mid-July, I soon discovered it was the first day of the the Saint's Week. I had visions of 'no room at the inn', but this was quickly dispelled: I got a great palce, a newly-remodeled 16th century edifice, at a good price. I had a cafe con leche, left my pack at the bar, and went to the Cathedral. I came upon an unexpected sight: Backpacks. Mountains of backpacks. Their owners with an unmistakable fire in their eyes: Faith. The Mass was incredible. Electric.

I step outside into the Galician sun, and am met with strains of 'Moon River' being played by Enrique, the Jazzman of Compostela. Man, I love this place. Definitely on my 'favorite cities of the world' list. I subsequently meet others who fill in the rest of the blanks about the Pilgrimage. We're still in touch.

In 2003 I returned to Spain to do my first Camino from Roncesvalles to Santiago. Fab-u-lous. I returned in '04 for another injection. Roncesvalles to Santiago. Then I take a week off, but go back for yet a third Camino. I must admit it: I am a Camino junkie. The Road which calls you. You must go. No choice. Es tu Destino.

Buen Camino a Todos,


New Member
How did I learn of the El Camino?

The first thing I read was The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho. I really loved the book but had no idea it was really something people did now. My next book was Shirley MacClaine's book The El Camino. Then I was sold. I wanted to walk it in 2002 but life kept it from happening. I decided this year I will do it next year even if I have to give up my job. I 'need' to do it. I am scared of it, therefore it is a must in my life. Rosetta
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How many current users of the Forum heard of the Camino for the first time because of the film "The Way?" Do you think it will cause a surge of American pilgrims?

Jeff Stys

Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (03, 04), VdlP (05, 06), Norte (07,08), Primativo (09), Frances (12)
I was in Southern Italy working on a 2 week volunteer project. I met a retired American school teacher who first told me about the Camino.

She happened to live about an hour from my home town in Upstate New York. While visiting family, I drove to see her. She asked me about my plans for upcoming trips....when I told her I was considering the Camino, she handed me one of her guide books. I was hooked from that point.

I guess I am still discovering...I plan on walking the Frances to Ponferrada this April and then picking up the Camino de Inveirno. I learned about this camino a few months ago on this forum.

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
We went to visit Santiago by car in 1994 as tourists because we were interested in the historical sites. We saw the Pilgrim Mass advertised, it was the Feast of the Visitation, so we went and saw the Pilgrims come in at the begining of the service. Very different from today. That was when our dream to walk as Pilgrims began. We found the Forum because we were looking for information on google.
It will be interesting to hear how much The Way influences a new wave of Pilgrims from the US and elsewhere.

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