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Camino(s) past & future
March, 2017
#1
Why do so many people insist on starting in St. Jean? I recently completed my first Camino with my wife in March and for various reasons chose to start in Pamplona. For one, the chance of heavy snow and the potential closure of the Napoleon Route out of St. Jean was likely in late February, early March. Secondly, I didn't want to start my wife, who's not an experienced hiker like me, on such a difficult and potentially dangerous hike (even the Valcarlos Route is not without its difficulties as I heard from other pilgrims who did it in late February) and discourage her from the get-go. Thirdly, and perhaps more to my point here, is that it's my understanding that St. Jean is as random a starting point for the Camino as any other, so why not go with an easily accessible, almost as distant starting point that's also a fun, enjoyable city to hang out in for a couple days beforehand? Okay, maybe this was all just my rationalization to get my wife to come with me (and it was successful!), but seriously, along the way, all the "I started in St. Jean, and I'm a bad-ass" crowd started to annoy me when I'd say I started in Pamplona. As though I, and everyone else who didn't start in France were somehow slightly less pure than the Holy Hikers from SJPP. Anyone else get this atttidude? Ultimately, I didn't care, nor did most people I met along the way, especially after Leon where I met lots of people who were just starting out. Suddenly we who'd started "way back" in Pamplona felt a little more respected. I met a guy who'd started as far back as Carcasonne, who made the SJPPers seem like ninnies anyhow -- he told me "it's not a competition" and he's right. It doesn't matter where one starts. Still, I'd like to know why, despite the inconvenience and arbitrariness of starting points so many still insist on starting in St. Jean?

Thanks!

Johann
 
Camino(s) past & future
Some but not all, and other routes too.
#2
Could it be the film "The Way" that has fuelled everyone to start in SJPDP, I think n to because people have been starting there long before the film was made.
I wouldn't worry about others peoples thoughts and words of where you started from, in my mind there is no official starting point, it's what you want it to be.
Enjoy the journey and go with the flow, life's to short to worry about starting points and distances.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#3
I started my first pilgrimage in St Jean because my mother-in-law had walked from there 5 years earlier. She was very enthusiastic about her experience and so I wanted to walk the same route. Also her guide book which I borrowed was the one written by Don Elias Valina in the mid-1980s and his route started in St Jean. Don Elias was a serious scholar and researcher of the history of pilgrimage: the man who created the system of yellow arrow markers, essentially inventing the concept of a specific waymarked pilgrim trail, and inspired the modern revival of pilgrimage to Santiago. If he thought that St Jean was a good place to begin then that was good enough for me.
 
Camino(s) past & future
March, 2017
#4
I started my first pilgrimage in St Jean because my mother-in-law had walked from there 5 years earlier. She was very enthusiastic about her experience and so I wanted to walk the same route. Also her guide book which I borrowed was the one written by Don Elias Valina in the mid-1980s and his route started in St Jean. Don Elias was a serious scholar and researcher of the history of pilgrimage: the man who created the system of yellow arrow markers, essentially inventing the concept of a specific waymarked pilgrim trail, and inspired the modern revival of pilgrimage to Santiago. If he thought that St Jean was a good place to begin then that was good enough for me.
Awesome! Yeah, I paid homage to Father Elias' bust up in O Cebreiro. From what I've read, the earliest "starting point" of the Camino was originally Oviedo. Then when most pilgrims were coming from France, St. Jean was the point where the various European footpaths converged, if not mistaken. Or is that Roncevalles? Anyway, Pamplona worked out great, but because I've heard such wonderful things about the French Camino I'd like to "complement" my Camino one day by hiking from somewhere deep in France to Pamplona, and then when I get there deciding whether or not to continue on again. Of course, by that time I may be an old man and age will make the decision for me :) I LOVED hiking in March btw -- so peaceful.
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017
#5
Maybe it's because it's called the French Way?
There is also the theory that to break a habit you need 28 days. So if your purpose for doing the Camino is for change then you may NEED to start in St Jean.

We are starting in Sarria which suits us.
I was reluctant to state that on this board because of so many derogatory comments by some.
But, you know, there are others on here and out in the world who truely don't care where you start. If you can only manage, or only have time for, a few days on the Camino you are ahead of millions of others. It's something I had to work out and come to terms with for myself.

I think, from research, the two most asked questions when you meet someone on the Camino are 1) why are you doing it? and 2) where did you start.

It's curiosity. If there is a hint of condescension from someone is it from them (their need to feel superior) or something you are reflecting on to them (your feeling of inadequacy)? If it's the latter maybe that's one of those Camino life lessons you might want to think about.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#6
Before "The Way," Shirley MacLaine and Hape Kerkeling started in SJPdP. Ostabat before SJPdP was the intersection of three French routes, so was a major stopping/starting point for centuries. St. Jean le Vieux predated SJPdP as well. It is a modern invention, I think.
 
Camino(s) past & future
March, 2017
#7
Maybe it's because it's called the French Way?
There is also the theory that to break a habit you need 28 days. So if your purpose for doing the Camino is for change then you may NEED to start in St Jean.

We are starting in Sarria which suits us.
I was reluctant to state that on this board because of so many derogatory comments by some.
But, you know, there are others on here and out in the world who truely don't care where you start. If you can only manage, or only have time for, a few days on the Camino you are ahead of millions of others. It's something I had to work out and come to terms with for myself.

I think, from research, the two most asked questions when you meet someone on the Camino are 1) why are you doing it? and 2) where did you start.

It's curiosity. If there is a hint of condescension from someone is it from them (their need to feel superior) or something you are reflecting on to them (your feeling of inadequacy)? If it's the latter maybe that's one of those Camino life lessons you might want to think about.
Ha, you got me on the "life lessons" thing -- that's exactly what I was feeling on the trail. The guy I met who'd started in Carcassone really irked me because he was also hiking marathon days (25+ miles) on some stretches and my perception was that he was bragging and I started feeling "slowed down" by my partner, which was utter nonsense. The slower I went the more I enjoyed myself, but that was a real battle just to get there. That said, when my partner's knee gave out and she had to take taxis later on I ended up going for a couple marathon stretches just to prove I could do it. Some people seemed to take offense that I was passing them up and going too fast or something, it was weird. But just like the "where to start" conundrum, it's all in our heads and what other people think of us and our choices is mostly irrelevant. I got some real clarity towards the end of my Camino when I met a Spaniard and I asked him where he started. He replied, "Home," which for him was just outside Leon. There would be as much reason for him to start in St. Jean as there was for me, from California, to start in Leon -- it depends on how much free time you've got, and St. James (if he's there) couldn't care less either -- just honored, if I may dare to speak for him, that we've come to visit.
 

Annie Little

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances Sept-Oct 2016
#9
I started in St Jean ... why ?
Because :
I was curious
I wanted to
I wanted to challenge myself
If I think it I can do it or at least try

I don't regret it .... would I do it next time ? I don't know ... I went via valcarlos .... I would like to try Napoleon ... why ?
Because I am curious :D.... AND we all know what curiosity did to the cat :cool:

Ultreia
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
#15
I liked the idea of the first stage being over the Pyrenees. I'm glad I did start there, as the walk and view was amazing. I honestly wouldn't want to start in Pamplona because I would miss it.

I didn't detect any 'snobbery' about where people started. At all.......
I made friends with people who started before me, after me, who were walking for just a few days....

The only slight thing I noticed both times, was that from Sarria onwards people can be a bit less friendly. Those who have walked for weeks already are probably just focussed on the final stretch and finishing. They may not be as keen to make 'new' friendships. And also the post Sarria walk has a different feel IMHO due to the crowds. Not bad, just different.

I will be 'dragging' my wife Pat up the hill from St Jean next year ;) Why? Because although tough, I know she will love the views. And if we are sensible, walk slow and break the journey, she will be fine.
 

Annie Little

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances Sept-Oct 2016
#16
I will be 'dragging' my wife Pat up the hill from St Jean next year ;) Why? Because although tough, I know she will love the views. And if we are sensible, walk slow and break the journey, she will be fine.
Why ? Because if she doesn't she will be a Camino widow not a golf widow ;)

If I were lucky enough at this late stage in life to meet my "other half" ... he would HAVE to cross the Pyrenees with me ....no compromise on that one :cool::D

Ultreia
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 15,Portuguese 16,Finisterre Muxia 16,Ingles16,, Almeria to Muxia,Finesterre 18
#17
on my first camino i 2015 i started in pamplona,,mainly because i had never done any walking like this before and thought that walking across the pyrennes for my first day was asking too much !!!! so last year in oct i have walked portuguese and finesterre and muxia,,then also the camino inglese ,,then after santiago got myself to st jean and walked on the last official day of the season across to pamplona ,,,it was a perfect crossing ..
so not walking it first aint a problem ,, one can always do the napolean way some other time
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
#18
For many posts re Why SJPdP see this forum thread.

For me the Camino Frances could ONLY begin at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the picturesque Basque mountain town in the French Pyrenees. Excitement started while riding there on the little train from Bayonne. Once arrived after hoisting my pack, walking uphill and through the old fortress walls to the 39 rue de la Citadelle office of the welcoming Amis du Chemin de St Jacques to obtain my Credential and bunk, I walked on.

Nearby at 55 was the famous red door of the municipal albergue. Pushing it open began each new Camino adventure. Mme Jeannine, the tireless hospitalera greeted all and serendipity prevailed. ...May it continue to be so.

Ultreia!
 

Lance Chambers

Lance Chambers
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria (2015) SJPdP (2016) Burgos (2017) SJPdP (2018)
#19
My first time I started at Sarria - horror of horrors. :)

I loved it and the next time I started in SJ and I did that because having flown into Paris it was the most 'sensible' place to start because it was easy to get to and I wanted to see if I could get over the Pyrenees - I did but suffered mightily for it over the next few days.

This year starting in Leon because I loved Galicia the most but want to walk a bit more than across Galicia.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. 2019? Who knows! ;-)
#20
I started in St Jean because my guide book started in St Jean.... My preferred start would always have been Paris (where I am from) but that would have been too difficult for a first pilgrimage (finding my way, accommodation...) and above all would have taken too long. It was difficult enough finding 30 + days!
One day when I have more time I will walk it though (God willing ;) ).

From my experience it's mainly the foreigners who start in St Jean, all the Spanish people I met started in Roncesvalles or nearer their home town, be it Pamplona or Burgos etc.

Fortunately, I have never met anyone who looked down on people who had started somewhere else, the main question always seem to be 'where are you from?" rather than 'where did you start from'.

With an exception! : At the risk of going on a bit (sorry), what REALLY annoys me is people disparaging those who start in Sarria . I think it shows them in a bad light rather than the pilgrims who only have a week to walk the Camino and actually make the effort!
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
#21
Because its there.

Some people prefer to start there while others, such as you, start somewhere else. Its all good.

Real Pilgrims walk to Santiago from Sarria. You don't get points for starting from further away.
BUT you can get certification to show the distance walked.
I started years ago walking from our French home near Saintes, very short sections of the Tours route. Then I wanted to reach Blaye. Once I achieved that I knew I wanted to cross the Gironde estuary to reach the Pyrenees. Missed out les Landes but started Camino walking seriously from St. Palais on to Ostabat and onwards. All this in 10 day or two week stages. My friend and I finally arrived at Finisterra last October.
Buen Camino to you all, enjoy what you set out to achieve, do not be downcast by others.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
#22
To walk into Spain.
For the views of the Pyrenees.
Because of its easy access from Paris.
To visit this lovely little town.

Why I woul have it any other way after the fact?
For what I learned about myself pushing through that difficult day.
For the unforgetable views.
For the night spent in Roncesvalles former albergue after such a difficult, beautiful amd exhillarating day.
 

Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
#23
Start in LePuy.
Then...when some tells you they started in SJPP and asks where you started...you can modestly tell them..."800 km before St. Jean".
There is another side to this 'starting point' business. I was a little surprised to find out that this "modestly telling them" didn't work out for me at all. I started in Holland, from my home, and once in Spain I began to avoid telling people where I had started.
I didn't really like the look I got, like I was an interesting specimen from another planet, or the ruckus that ensued in larger groups: "Hey, Bob, guess where this guy started!" It felt very uncomfortable. It felt like bragging.
So I kept quiet about it, and only shared it when one-on-one and the subject came up. I am proud of my camino, don't get me wrong, but it feels wrong to brag about it. About as wrong as judging people on their starting points. Anywhere will do, really.
 
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Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
#24
We have only ever started in Santander, Oviedo Ribadeo (Ruta do Mar) or Ferrol . These older pilgrim routes are more our style - but some folk do look surprised by our choice of Caminos. We have never felt the need to go to St. Jean and if we chose to walk the Frances would probably start at Roncesvalles or even after the meseta.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#25
I didn't really like the look I got, like I was an interesting specimen from another planet, or the ruckus that ensued in larger groups: "Hey, Bob, guess where this guy started!" It felt very uncomfortable. It felt like bragging.
I had something of the same experience walking the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome. A lot of people were very surprised when learning what my starting point was. I was occasionally led over to meet friends and talk some more about the walk. As a quite shy and introverted person that sort of attention is not always welcome. There was sometimes a wholly unexpected reaction: a small number of other walkers immediately became quite hostile and defensive - rushing to justify their own chosen stages as if my choice to walk the whole route implied a criticism or dismissal of their journey as something less "worthy". Certainly not something I had said or implied.
 

Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
#28
When I got the question, I sometimes pretended not to understand and answered by giving the name of the place where I had started in the morning. It was, after all, where I had come from on that day. :)
I did that one a lot too. Or I sort of circled back and asked where the other person started and compared experiences from their point of origin on the camino, so they forgot they asked me first. A quick gear question in return is also a good distraction. I'm a good listener and I rarely get into trouble when keeping my trap shut.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016 solo, planning Frances again with my wife 2017
#29
It's true that it is perhaps historically as random a place to start as any, but one reason is that at least in my experience, the Napolean route from there on the first day is one of the very most beautiful and dramatic days of the whole camino. I am glad I did it, but if someone doesn't, it's their camino nonetheless!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Vezelay to Santiago 2014
#30
Vanity of vanities ,
you proudly crack your start and find someone who came from the other end of Europe .
It's quite harmless ,
we walked with a guy who started from Sarria because by accident he had meet some pilgrims there
he decided to go to Santiago the morning after , no pack , no walking shoes , no spare clothing and little money .
for him that was a real adventure
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese
(2019) VdP Seville to Salamanca
(2020) VdP Salamanca to Santiago
#31
One good reason to start in St. Jean is the food. You wouldn't want to miss some of the Basque tastes. Also, it has a different feel than Pamplona. I love Pamplona and it's a heck of a lot easier to get to than St. Jean. But that said, St. Jean has a better "feel" to it. Not rational reasons, but then there is no rational reason to walk the Camino anyway :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2016) ; 1st Camino ; Frances Way ; 2017 Camino Frances begins August 10,2017
#32
For me it's because if I'm gonna spend a crapload of money flying all the way to Europe to walk the Camino, I want to make the most of it and see as much of it as I can. So I start in SJPdP because for me it's the longest route, with the most logistics.
YES to all of the above !!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (4/2016)
#33
I am a little sentimental reading all this talk. One year ago today I started my one and only Camino - from SJPP. I chose it because what little I knew then of the Camino had to do with the movie "The Way." Perhaps my Camino really started on 4-13-16 as I walked from my home in San Diego and walked 14 miles to the airport. Crossing the Pyrenees was one of the hardest things I ever did, but the views and the feeling of accomplishment was so worth it. But ..... the next 10 days was even harder as I had to face disappointment after disappointment. I thought I had trained adequately and I thought once I crossed the Pyrenees it was all "downhill" and the miles would just float by. It was so difficult for me but I was so rewarded with lesssons learned that continue to help me in my regular life here a year later. It was an absolutely wonderful experience - from the eyes to the toes - inside and out.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
#34
Noooo! Don't skip the Meseta! It's my favorite bit on the Frances...
:rolleyes: I just knew some-one would say that. Great if it your place to walk, but not mine, :). Give me the sea, hills and forests and I am a happy pilgrim. They are where I can be close to God.
 

Patch

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Leon to Santiago (June 2014)
St Jean to Leon (Sept 2015)
Burgos to Santiago (June 2016)
Porto to Finisterre (June 2017)
#36
I started in both Leon and Burgos before St Jean. But in my humble opinion I wish I had started from St Jean first as it was the easiest place to get to and the information bundle the pilgrims office gave out was first class - far better than any guide book. Also nice to meet so many fresh and happy pilgrims
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. 2019? Who knows! ;-)
#37
I had something of the same experience walking the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome. A lot of people were very surprised when learning what my starting point was. I was occasionally led over to meet friends and talk some more about the walk. As a quite shy and introverted person that sort of attention is not always welcome. There was sometimes a wholly unexpected reaction: a small number of other walkers immediately became quite hostile and defensive - rushing to justify their own chosen stages as if my choice to walk the whole route implied a criticism or dismissal of their journey as something less "worthy". Certainly not something I had said or implied.
Same here. Almost three years later I can just about face talking about where I walked, when appropriate, other people usually mention it for me when it comes about in the conversation and I shrink away.
People look at me differently.
It's just me! Not terribly fit, not very young, not very brave either....
I have NEVER mentioned it on any caminos lolol.
 
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MCFearnley

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Ponferrada to Santiago (September 2016)
#38
SJPdP starting point is a modern "invention". Originally, people started from their home, wherever home was, and walked, rode, hitched rides on haycarts, etc. to Santiago de Compostela. In Trabadello I met a man who was walking home after having walked to Santiago from his home. He had come from and was returning to Longueil, France near the English Channel. That was his way of "doing the Camino". At first I was looking at starting in Sarria, then the passage from the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew that says "If someone compels you to walk a mile, walk two" had bubbled up into my mind. The requirement for a Compostela is 100 km, so I chose the city that was most accessible by train from Madrid closest to that distance... times two. Ponferrada became my starting point. I got some snubs by one or two people regarding the distance I was walking, but that was not the norm. I walked alone most of the time and came home with the most amazing experience that transformed my life. I met truly wonderful people along the way. I saw beautiful scenery and learned to make friends with rain and fog. It brought me closer to God and to my fellow human beings. It proved to me that I can, with God's help, accomplish things that can, on the outset, seem rather crazy. Some people need 800 km, others 1,500, and some others "only" 100. I seem to have been guided to the number of kilometres that I needed.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino frances
#39
20150622_083305.jpg
Why do so many people insist on starting in St. Jean? I recently completed my first Camino with my wife in March and for various reasons chose to start in Pamplona. For one, the chance of heavy snow and the potential closure of the Napoleon Route out of St. Jean was likely in late February, early March. Secondly, I didn't want to start my wife, who's not an experienced hiker like me, on such a difficult and potentially dangerous hike (even the Valcarlos Route is not without its difficulties as I heard from other pilgrims who did it in late February) and discourage her from the get-go. Thirdly, and perhaps more to my point here, is that it's my understanding that St. Jean is as random a starting point for the Camino as any other, so why not go with an easily accessible, almost as distant starting point that's also a fun, enjoyable city to hang out in for a couple days beforehand? Okay, maybe this was all just my rationalization to get my wife to come with me (and it was successful!), but seriously, along the way, all the "I started in St. Jean, and I'm a bad-ass" crowd started to annoy me when I'd say I started in Pamplona. As though I, and everyone else who didn't start in France were somehow slightly less pure than the Holy Hikers from SJPP. Anyone else get this atttidude? Ultimately, I didn't care, nor did most people I met along the way, especially after Leon where I met lots of people who were just starting out. Suddenly we who'd started "way back" in Pamplona felt a little more respected. I met a guy who'd started as far back as Carcasonne, who made the SJPPers seem like ninnies anyhow -- he told me "it's not a competition" and he's right. It doesn't matter where one starts. Still, I'd like to know why, despite the inconvenience and arbitrariness of starting points so many still insist on starting in St. Jean?

Thanks!

Johann
20150622_083305.jpg
Why do so many people insist on starting in St. Jean? I recently completed my first Camino with my wife in March and for various reasons chose to start in Pamplona. For one, the chance of heavy snow and the potential closure of the Napoleon Route out of St. Jean was likely in late February, early March. Secondly, I didn't want to start my wife, who's not an experienced hiker like me, on such a difficult and potentially dangerous hike (even the Valcarlos Route is not without its difficulties as I heard from other pilgrims who did it in late February) and discourage her from the get-go. Thirdly, and perhaps more to my point here, is that it's my understanding that St. Jean is as random a starting point for the Camino as any other, so why not go with an easily accessible, almost as distant starting point that's also a fun, enjoyable city to hang out in for a couple days beforehand? Okay, maybe this was all just my rationalization to get my wife to come with me (and it was successful!), but seriously, along the way, all the "I started in St. Jean, and I'm a bad-ass" crowd started to annoy me when I'd say I started in Pamplona. As though I, and everyone else who didn't start in France were somehow slightly less pure than the Holy Hikers from SJPP. Anyone else get this atttidude? Ultimately, I didn't care, nor did most people I met along the way, especially after Leon where I met lots of people who were just starting out. Suddenly we who'd started "way back" in Pamplona felt a little more respected. I met a guy who'd started as far back as Carcasonne, who made the SJPPers seem like ninnies anyhow -- he told me "it's not a competition" and he's right. It doesn't matter where one starts. Still, I'd like to know why, despite the inconvenience and arbitrariness of starting points so many still insist on starting in St. Jean?

Thanks!

Johann
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
#41
Hola @Johan - a thousand years ago a pilgrim started from her or his home village - with their pilgrim passport (probably written in Latin) which gave them permission to travel away from their home parish. There were at that time two or three ways to cross the Pyrenees. For modern Pilgrims St Jean has "just become" a natural crossing point and starting point. I too started my first camino from Pamplona (back in 2015) but I was on my bike and that was a more practical starting point. This year (in 3 days) I fly to Paris - on a pilgrimage of a difference - to attend the Australian ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Villers Bretonneux (just outside of Amiens) (the sight of the WWI Memorial). So naturally I will start my second pilgrimage from St Jean. As I will be in Paris and will visit Notre Dame Cathedral I could be said to starting my Camino here. There is a Camino symbol in square in front of the Cathedral. If I can I will get a celo in my passport from the Cathedral.
So basically what I am saying is - start your Camino from wherever is suitable/practical for you. Bring you and your wife back next year and start the Norte out on the Franco/Spanish Atlantic Coast. Buen Camio. Cheers
 
A

AJ

Guest
#42
I had something of the same experience walking the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome. A lot of people were very surprised when learning what my starting point was. I was occasionally led over to meet friends and talk some more about the walk. As a quite shy and introverted person that sort of attention is not always welcome. There was sometimes a wholly unexpected reaction: a small number of other walkers immediately became quite hostile and defensive - rushing to justify their own chosen stages as if my choice to walk the whole route implied a criticism or dismissal of their journey as something less "worthy". Certainly not something I had said or implied.
There is always someone who has walked further or harder, or walked more Caminos... and I have met a few of them!
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#44
There is always someone who has walked further or harder, or walked more Caminos... and I have met a few of them!
True! On day 36 of my walk to Rome - in a small town in the middle of the rice fields in the Po valley - I met Phillipe. We shared a room for the night. Phillipe was French but lived in Canada. He flew to Spain and travelled to Santiago. From there he walked to Rome and then turned around and started walking to France to visit family near Strasbourg, with a little detour to Assisi on the way. He reckoned that by the time he reached Strasbourg he would have been walking for six months and would be about ready to stop and return to Canada...
 
A

AJ

Guest
#45
He reckoned that by the time he reached Strasbourg he would have been walking for six months and would be about ready to stop and return to Canada...
On the Voie de Vezelay I met a Belgian man who was on his way home having walked for 11 months. He had been bitten by a snake, had no money and was not entirely of this world.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
#46
On the Voie de Vezelay I met a Belgian man who was on his way home having walked for 11 months. He had been bitten by a snake, had no money and was not entirely of this world.
Such long term perpetual pilgrims need not remain total strangers.

Late October 2015 when en route to Los Arcos slowly from the distant horizon appeared a figure walking towards me; tall, tanned, wearing a beret and bearing packs on both his chest and back he strode smoothly along. When I said "Hola" he graciously greeted me in several languages and explained that early in summer he had walked from his home in Germany down to Saint Jean Pied de Port and on to Santiago. Now he was walking back towards southern France, Italy and eventually Rome. What an itinerary! What determination!

After a short pause sitting on a rock while sharing a few cookies as well as several camino confidences we shook hands and sincerely wished each other Ultreia and Adieu. We moved towards our different horizons but strangers no more.
 
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jefferyonthecamino

http://www.barrerabooks.com/ - Guidebooks
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (1994)
Camino Francés (2013 - 2017)
Camino Portugués (2015 - 2017)
#47
Why do so many people insist on starting in St. Jean? I recently completed my first Camino with my wife in March and for various reasons chose to start in Pamplona. For one, the chance of heavy snow and the potential closure of the Napoleon Route out of St. Jean was likely in late February, early March. Secondly, I didn't want to start my wife, who's not an experienced hiker like me, on such a difficult and potentially dangerous hike (even the Valcarlos Route is not without its difficulties as I heard from other pilgrims who did it in late February) and discourage her from the get-go. Thirdly, and perhaps more to my point here, is that it's my understanding that St. Jean is as random a starting point for the Camino as any other, so why not go with an easily accessible, almost as distant starting point that's also a fun, enjoyable city to hang out in for a couple days beforehand? Okay, maybe this was all just my rationalization to get my wife to come with me (and it was successful!), but seriously, along the way, all the "I started in St. Jean, and I'm a bad-ass" crowd started to annoy me when I'd say I started in Pamplona. As though I, and everyone else who didn't start in France were somehow slightly less pure than the Holy Hikers from SJPP. Anyone else get this atttidude? Ultimately, I didn't care, nor did most people I met along the way, especially after Leon where I met lots of people who were just starting out. Suddenly we who'd started "way back" in Pamplona felt a little more respected. I met a guy who'd started as far back as Carcasonne, who made the SJPPers seem like ninnies anyhow -- he told me "it's not a competition" and he's right. It doesn't matter where one starts. Still, I'd like to know why, despite the inconvenience and arbitrariness of starting points so many still insist on starting in St. Jean?

Thanks!

Johann
started in roncesvalles, nodesire to start further back. when i walk again, probably start closer to SdC.

lots of attitude on the Camino, part of the fun i guess
 
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#49
Because Everybody Else Does It That Way.

This is one of the mysteries of the modern Camino. Ages ago, at least as many people came over a route farther east, on what we call the Aragonese Way, but modern pilgrims I think are attracted by several things:

1. It's in France, so you get credit for being in two countries and crossing an "international frontier."
2. It's on the other side of a mountain, so you can make the fabulous claim of "Crossing the Pyrenees." (It's one pass, over one Pyrenee. A tough couple of days, but not exactly an entire mountain range!)
3. St. Jean is charming and fun, and a great meet-up place. It's not too hard to get to, and you can stop in Paris on the way. You can stay at the same albergue and get your credential at the same place where Everyone Else does.
4. There are great views from the mountain paths if the weather is good. If weather is bad, you can tell hair-raising tales of foul-weather Pyrenees Mountain crossings. Makes for great stories, blogs, broadcasts.
5. They started in St. Jean in that movie/book/video.
6. Everyone else starts there. The ones who are not broken by that tough start are forever bad-asses, to one another, and maybe to themselves. At least for a while.
7. St. Jean has a nice sello.

I have met thousands of pilgrims who've come from every starting-place, and all I can think is, St. Jean Pied de Port must have an amazing marketing firm behind them.
 
P

Pabloke

Guest
#50
Why do so many people insist on starting in St. Jean? I recently completed my first Camino with my wife in March and for various reasons chose to start in Pamplona. For one, the chance of heavy snow and the potential closure of the Napoleon Route out of St. Jean was likely in late February, early March. Secondly, I didn't want to start my wife, who's not an experienced hiker like me, on such a difficult and potentially dangerous hike (even the Valcarlos Route is not without its difficulties as I heard from other pilgrims who did it in late February) and discourage her from the get-go. Thirdly, and perhaps more to my point here, is that it's my understanding that St. Jean is as random a starting point for the Camino as any other, so why not go with an easily accessible, almost as distant starting point that's also a fun, enjoyable city to hang out in for a couple days beforehand? Okay, maybe this was all just my rationalization to get my wife to come with me (and it was successful!), but seriously, along the way, all the "I started in St. Jean, and I'm a bad-ass" crowd started to annoy me when I'd say I started in Pamplona. As though I, and everyone else who didn't start in France were somehow slightly less pure than the Holy Hikers from SJPP. Anyone else get this atttidude? Ultimately, I didn't care, nor did most people I met along the way, especially after Leon where I met lots of people who were just starting out. Suddenly we who'd started "way back" in Pamplona felt a little more respected. I met a guy who'd started as far back as Carcasonne, who made the SJPPers seem like ninnies anyhow -- he told me "it's not a competition" and he's right. It doesn't matter where one starts. Still, I'd like to know why, despite the inconvenience and arbitrariness of starting points so many still insist on starting in St. Jean?

Thanks!

Johann
In my opinion the question"where did you start?" is just a way to talk and hear about experiences. Did you see this, did you stay in there.

When you meet somebody the main conversation topic is the Camino. I don't think it's a judgemental question. May it be sometimes tho, of course.

Anyway if anybody needs to be judgmental, let them be it.
 


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