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You Don't Have to be a Lemming...

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/?/Invierno ('19)
I'm ranting. Please forgive me, but here goes - I would have loved to have known all this, right from the start:

"The Camino" has been hyped as one thing:
The True and Only "Whole" Camino starts in St Jean Pied de Port and goes over (only) the Napoleon Route and from there on the Camino Frances to Santiago. And along the way, you will have the complete "camino experience" complete with families, angels, epiphanies, and magical provision.

This mythology bugs a lot of people, and for good reason - it's a modern story, driven by fiction and Hollywood.
Because of it, the Frances is becoming increasingly crowded, each new pilgrim blindly following the stories about the 'true way.'
Because of it, every year there are some people who endanger themselves and rescuers by insisting on illegally taking the napoleon Route in the winter and getting into trouble - because it is the 'real' path.
And because of it, the actual culture of pilgrimage, and of supporting pilgrims is getting overwhelmed by commercialism.

If you have never walked, don't be fooled by the hype and misinformation.
The camino is so much deeper, grittier, more challenging, and three-dimensional than those stories tell.

And there are a huge number of ways to walk if you want to end up in Santiago, each of which is a whole legitimate camino in and of itself. And some of which predate the Frances by a long time.

So if you seek a genuinely quiet and contemplative walk, there are many options, if you have the courage to not blindly follow the crowd. To inspire, here's a wonderful map that @wisepilgrim made, and that @ivar sells in the Forum Store - and that's just in Spain. The entire rest of Europe is equally covered by camino cobwebs.

Capture.PNG

Happy planning and buen caminos, Peregrinas and Peregrinos!
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances
SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia, May 2016
C. Frances, Sept 2017
Camino Portugues, June 2019
I have this map and I stare at it all the time. So many Spanish Caminos I didn't know about and unfortunately, the names of them on the map are written too small for my old eyes to be able to decipher. This version above looks improved, with the names of the routes in boxes, instead of just inside the colored line. I would love it if Wise Pilgrim would put out an accompanying little guide with at least some info. on each of these Ways. How old it is, who originally walked it, how many walk it now, what the infrastructure and the scenery is like.

A friend of mine lives in a very small community near the southeast Spanish coast, about 150K north of Valencia (the name of the town is Calig) She recently sent me a picture of a yellow arrow she just noticed on the side of a building there. She - nor I - had any idea a Camino either started there or passes through that town. Next we need a Camino that circumnavigates Spain (and maybe Portugal), traveling along shorelines and borders.
 

Arctic_Alex

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking Camino Frances April 2019
Well, we should all be aware that the only real, traditional Camino begins at your very own doorstep and has not a single stamp from the last 100 k. Yes, that is unfair as some live further away than others. :)
Nevertheless I will try to walk the Frances in April, starting in SJPdP ...
Why?
- Because I want to do something different. Most of my other long distance walks are in remote wilderness, so this time I want to see many people.
- But not too many hence I start in early April.
- I want a dense infrastructure so I can travel ultralight and each day spontaneously decide how far I walk.
- I want to see some big interesting cities as I live in a municipality the size of a small country with only 5000 inhabitants.
- I want to compare my experiences with those of friends who did exactly the same route. I also want to compare it to a funny and popular book.
All these reasons are valid for me as they are my personal reasons :)

Oh, as a side note, lemmings are cute. This year will be a lemming year where I live :)
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
In defense of first-time lemmings: I don't think I will ever walk one of the other Spanish trails that are also marketed as caminos to Santiago (ok, the CI perhaps but then in the opposite direction and so far it's just an idea I have). It wasn't Hollywood and assorted fiction that made the Camino Frances to be regarded as THE Camino de Santiago. Roncesvalles-Pamplona-Burgos-Leon-Astorga was THE road to Santiago long before Coelho, Hollywood and similar arrived on the scene, and that's what it still is and will always be, even despite the original Alfonso.

If I wanted to go on a genuinely quiet and contemplative walk, I'd look for one of the many medium or long distance trails that we have in Europe, in particular in the mountains or in other remote areas without any major pilgrimage myth or pilgrimage fiction wafting over them. BTW, if there's a track or a road with an origin that dates back to the Middle Ages, it's extremely likely that a pilgrim had walked on it.

Totally agree to what is said about the immense hype about having to start in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and the "full camino experience" complete with families, angels, epiphanies, and magical provision. I never fell for it and I consider myself lucky that I knew next to nothing about all this hype when I happened to make my first step on the way to Santiago.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I also note that many of those who praise the other caminos to Santiago in Spain and the Valcarlos route have already walked the Camino Frances and the Napoleon route. 🤓
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2016, CP 2017, Jakobsweg Ulm-Constance 2017-2018, Via Jacobi 2018, (Via Gebennensis 2019)
No, you don't. You sure don't have to be a lemming but boy was I one happy lemming on my first camino. From St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago complete with all the possible lemming experiences; camino family, blisters, bed bugs, stomach bug, communal meals and so on. :)
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I also note that many of those who praise the other caminos to Santiago in Spain and the Valcarlos route have already walked the Camino Frances and the Napoleon route. 🤓
True. And those of us who have walked the Camino Frances and one or more of the less-walked routes have personal experience on which to base a comparison. Some of us who advocate alternative routes may be looking for things that we found very special about that Camino Frances journey but which are almost impossible to recapture in the three-ring-circus which the Frances has now become. They may also share my irritation when someone then asks them on completion of their journey if they intend to walk "the real Camino" sometime :mad:🙄
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/?/Invierno ('19)
Fair enough, everyone. I did say I was ranting. I get it, @Bradypus, when you say:
They may also share my irritation when someone then asks them on their arrival in Santiago on one of the less-popular routes if they intend to walk "the real Camino" sometime :mad:🙄
That's exactly the kind of thing I'm reacting to...

I also note that many of those who praise the other caminos to Santiago in Spain and the Valcarlos route have already walked the Camino Frances and the Napoleon route. 🤓
Maybe. I've never walked the Napoleon Route, and don't really want to at this point.

if there's a track or a road with an origin that dates back to the Middle Ages, it's extremely likely that a pilgrim had walked on it.
Exactly. Hence the density of options - and the fact that clinging to one way as THE way is silly.
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
@VNwalking
Very well put!
I started exploring the Chemin de St. Jacques around 2010 walking short sections from my French front door, always returning there to sleep. On arrival at Blaye (late correction here! Blaye not Bayonne, that came years later!) I saw the bac (ferry) crossing the Gironde and then decided to return with a rucksack and walk to the Pyrenees. Once a friend and I had done that and reached Roncesvalles we realised there was more to walk!!!!. Returning year after year we finally completed the different stages to arrive at Santiago de Compostelle. Then we had time left to walk to Finistere. We met some lovely people, were still in in touch with a few but never formed a Camino family. I don't think we watched "The Way" until after we'd completed our walk on the Frances.
Walking alone in 2017 ,completing a few stages of the Voie de Tours was a rewarding experience. And last year's walk on the Baztan with three friends was an amazing experience and achievement.
Next? Portuguese routes, here I come!
In defence of the Camino Frances I think that experience gave me the confidence to walk some lesser known routes.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Exactly. Hence the density of options - and the fact that clinging to one way as THE way is silly.
A quote from about 1993:
The Route of Santiago de Compostela [Camino Frances] has preserved the most complete material registry of all Christian pilgrimage routes, such as churches and secular buildings, towns and villages, bridges. That's what makes it unique among all the others. Admittedly, it is not a major reason for the majority of those who embark on it today.

But believe me, a bit of material evidence on hand or in sight really helps to feel the presence of those who walked before us where we walk now. I knew that Neolithic people had lived where I grew up. But I only felt that they really had been there when, by pure chance, I spotted and then picked up a shard of LBK pottery on a field during a casual Sunday walk. :)
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/?/Invierno ('19)
has preserved the most complete material registry of all Christian pilgrimage routes
But not that it is the only authentic way to Santiago, just that it is said to be the best preserved. Which is interesting, because much of the actual old road has been taken over by the autovia or other secondary roads - naturally. The route was a major road then, and still is for a lot of the way.
In defence of the Camino Frances I think that experience gave me the confidence to walk some lesser known routes.
I don't hate the Frances - in fact I am very fond of it. And like you, Fleur (and I assume many others), walking it gave me the confidence to branch out. But it's just sad to read someone's disappointment that they can't walk the 'real' camino because they can't start in SJPP or because they can't go over the Napoleon route, or that it's not as they imagined.
That's mostly what I was venting about...and the unquestioned acceptance of the modern myths, both about the route and about the experience.

So do go and see for yourself. Create your own personal camino story, and if you are called back, know there are many other possibilities.
 

Dorpie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
I sympathise @VNwalking but I think the problem is that you assume people want a quiet and contemplative walk. Even in a country as densely populated as mine (England) such walks are ten a penny. The camino Frances offers something different. I accept that not everyone is so lucky but on both caminos I have been part of "camino families" have grown up and the sense fellowship found therein has been an absolute joy to me. I've also experienced "magical provision", though I put that more down to the goodness of my fellow human than the supernatural. As for those who endanger their own lives and those of their brave rescuers in search of authenticity, well as the saying goes; If you can't say anything nice......

I think the appeal of the CF to average person is precisely the build up of infrastructure around it, each of us will have our own ideas of how much is too much but it does mean that the Frances is almost certainly the easiest way to walk 800kms anywhere in the world and also one of the cheapest, this may devalue it to some but is a great asset to others. On top of that it passes through beautiful country and charming towns, has people from many walks of life and nations, of all different ages to interact with, great history as well as delicious food and drink. While other caminos may offer more of some of these elements I think Frances has more of all of them.

At least for now the Frances is fine for me, actually more than fine, hardly a day goes by without my fantascising about being on it and I barely think I've begun to scratch the surface. My intention having done a spring and summer walk on the CF already is to complete my set of seasons with an autumn walk this year and a winter one in two years time. Maybe then I'll be ready to move on to paths less travelled.

One thing I think it's safe to say is that without the huge popularity of the Camino Frances and the mythology that has built up around it we wouldn't have so many other routes being rejuvenated or indeed this lovely forum of ours.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/?/Invierno ('19)
One thing I think it's safe to say is that without the huge popularity of the Camino Frances and the mythology that has built up around it we wouldn't have so many other routes being rejuvenated or indeed this lovely forum of ours.
Well, I have to admit you're absolutely right, at least about the popularity.
But the mythology? Pass.;)
When people talk about things that happened in a certain movie (or book) as if they were real, I tend to think things which are neither kind nor useful, but I can't help it.
 
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Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I do find the insistence on SJPDP as the definitive starting point of the "Camino Frances" puzzling. The architect of the modern Camino revival was Don Elias Valina - for many years parish priest of O Cebreiro. The creation of a specific waymarked walking route fully mapped and signposted with a guidebook and dedicated pilgrim accommodation was largely the work of Don Elias and his associates in the 1970s and early 1980s. I have a copy of his seminal 1984 guide book. Don Elias begins by describing the Aragones route from Somport - the Navarra routes from SJPDP come second in his guidebook and do not seem to have any special priority. Throughout his book he refers to "El Camino de Santiago" and not "the Camino Frances" though he uses "Caminos franceses" as a generic term for the routes in France itself leading to the border. Why has one specific starting point and one specific route over the border come to be regarded as canonical? That also raises a deeper question for me on the nature of pilgrimage: is it defined by the path one follows or the destination in mind? When someone dismisses my journey to Santiago on the Camino Primitivo as an inferior ersatz experience by asking if I intend to walk "the real Camino" some day then I fear that the concept of pilgrimage has been sadly undermined and distorted.
 

Lucyk

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Primitivo 2015
If it is any consolation, the medieval pilgrimage to Compostela was just as commercialized, just as full of touregrinos and people who wanted a packaged "spiritual" experience on demand, as well as grifters and irritated locals, etc. as the modern one. And the camino does start at your front door. And I do laugh when people insist that StJPdP is the traditional starting point -- give its size, it most certainly is not!

What makes the Camino Frances, and the routes through France that lead into it genuinely different from the other routes on that map, however, is that during the Middle Ages places -- mostly monasteries and churches that claimed to hold important relics, but also places associated with the story of Roland and Charlemagne -- on those routes made a conscious effort to promote themselves to pilgrims because of the volume of traffic that passed close by. So, unusually, the particular route you travelled became just as important as the final destination of Santiago de Compostela. A medieval pilgrim would never miss, for instance, Valcarlos.

I don't think most modern pilgrims who insist the Camino Frances is the "true" way know much about this or care -- I don't know how many, for instance, make the detour to see San Millan de la Cogolla. What seems to have happened is that the sites medieval pilgrims would have cared about have been replaced, in our secular world, with certain kinds of exeperiences that pilgrims "must" have or do -- leaving a rock as the Cruz de Ferro, or staying at certain albergues, or walking the Napoleon route.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
First, please allow me to say that I TOTALLY agree with VNwalking's OP.

Second, I also concur with near everything written above.

Third, please allow me to interject some historical reference and context:

The FIRST documented camino, post discovery, of the storied bones by the hermit monk Pelayo, and the resulting Papal Bull proclaiming these to be the relics of Santiago, was by the King of Asturias. The route he followed to Santiago is considered to be the present day Camino Primitivo route, more or less. He walked / rode horses (?) from his castle in Oviedo, to Santiago.

MOST, but certainly not all of the pilgrims coming from more northern parts of Europe, over the Pyrenees had to make their way over those mountains to get into the then Kingdoms of Asturias Navarre, Aragones or Catalonia, and thence journey to venerate the relics at (what would become) Santiago de Compostela. To do so, they typically, had to avail themselves of four known passes through or around the Pyrenees mountains.

From West to east, these routes are the coastal area near present day Irun, the Roncesvalles Pass or Passage du Cize (now Napoleon Pass) at present day St. Jean Pied de Port, the Somport Pass south of Pau and to the southwest of Lourdes, and the coastal area north of Barcelona.

The Somport Pass was arguably the most popular Pyrenaic pass for pilgrims on the Way of St. James until the pacification of Navarran and Basque bandits in the 12th century made the relatively easier Roncesvalles road safer for pilgrims. From then, the Roncesvalles Pass or Passage du Cize (what we now call the Napoleon Pass) and St Jean-le-Vieux, later St. Jean Pied de Port, became the most popular starting or jump-off place. (I got the bit in italics from Wikipedia...)

However, beginning in the 12th century (1100s), the majority of pilgrims coming from the north transited the Pyrenees at the Roncesvalles Pass or Passage du Cize (now Napoleon Pass.) They first had to stop at the village / town of St Jean-le-Vieux, later St. Jean Pied de Port to rest, recover, outfit and prepare themselves for the arduous journey ahead.

This is why the folks in St. Jean Pied de Port proudly tell pilgrims that they have been outfitting and sending pilgrims off to Santiago de Compostela for more than 1,100 years... because they have. Their experience sending off pilgrims started in the late 800's they have been at it ever since.

This political change in the 1100s gave rise to the emergence of the Camino Frances being the virtual spine of the route of the Camino de Santiago. One has only to look at a map of the routes to understand this relationship. (See the BIG Map). Many of the early Camino routes flow into the Camino Frances, like tributaries into the main river.

To be sure, in later centuries, other personages made other routes more popular. The Kings and Queens from Portugal (or the Kingdoms later becoming Portugal) would travel via the traditional interior route of the Camino Portuguese. Persons of note, rank or historical significance also traveled south to Santiago on the Camino Ingles, having first arrived at Ferrol by boat.

They also traveled from Sevilla and the south of Iberia on the Camino Via de la Plata. I also believe, IIRC, that some folks came from the west from Barcelona.

Other routes were developed and documented along the way. Some routes, while considered OLD are relatively new.

For example, the Camino Invierno from Ponferrada, has been around for hundreds of years, but does not date from medieval times. The route from Madrid is also a fairly modern contrivance. this does not detract from the importance of these routes, it merely puts them into a historical context.

Very significantly, in 1213/14, Francis of Assisi (still alive then and not yet a saint), accompanied by two of his followers, departed Assisi, walked to Rome to meet with the Pope, then continued up and west over or near the present Cinque Terre, Italian, then French Rivieras, through Provence, then over the Pyrenees at the Somport Pass. Once in the Kingdom of Aragon, they proceeded to Jaca and then to Puente la Reina.

Following the Camino Aragones through the Kingdom of Aragon, Francis and his band, JOINED THE CAMINO FRANCES at Puenta la Reina. This is where these two Caminos join. From there, he followed the then main camino route favored by the majority of pilgrims coming from the north to Santiago.

In fact, until recently, you could walk on the same, very worn and uncomfortable Roman Road stones that Francis himself walked on immediately after exiting the walled town of Puente la Reina. However, I believe that someone finally flattened the first several hundred meters out from the gate and bridge.

Also, on the way, he stayed for some time at the Franciscan monastery at O'Cebreiro.

Parenthetically, Francis arrived in Santiago in 1214. After paying his respects and venerating the relics, he returned to Assisi (1215) again on foot, albeit with a new tunic and sandals...or so the story goes. This event is commemorated every 200 years by the Monastery of San Francisco at Santiago, at the basilica bearing his name.

The Franciscans issue a special certificate commemorating the anniversary of this event. I got one in 2014. If you missed, it, you will have to wait until the process repeats itself, in 2114.

So, in historical context, the Camino Frances IS the main route to Santiago. Other routes may feed into it (Aragones, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, etc.) or from it (Invierno, etc.). But the Camino Frances historically is the most used, best provisioned and developed route. This is a "for better or for worse" situation.

As the next Holy Year pilgrim surge approaches in 2021, pilgrims will have three choices:
- walk another route, or one that bypasses some or most of the Frances,
- suck it up and deal with it, possibly altering your time of year to attenuate the crowds, or
- take a pass on walking a Camino in 2021.

I already chose the last option. My plan is to offer to volunteer for TWO months at separate times. It is going to be insanely busy most of 2021. I will leave to others the many pleasures of the Camino for that year. I will be there to pick up the pieces when they arrive...

N.B. The Plenary Indulgence granted to observant Catholics in a Holy Year DOES NOT require a Camino. The sacramental acts required can be done if you just got off the bus in Santiago, from your cruise ship at Vigo, or the airplane at the SCQ airport. I grant you that it might be more meaningful to you or more dramatic to do it on the end of an arduous Camino. But dogmatically, it is not required. 'Nuff said on this point...

Finally, I note that some of us veterans have been experimenting with other Camino routes that avoid or bypass the Camino Frances in whole or part. Consider the entirety, or the final part, of the Camino Primitivo from Oviedo or beyond (north), Camino Invierno from Ponferrada, the Camino Norte or the Via de la Plata... Personally, I have done the Invierno and can recommend it highly, especially to folks who like solitude. I plan to do the Primitivo from Oviedo his May.

How about this for a good long Camino that avoids MOST of the crowding of the Frances: Camino Aragones from France to Puenta la Reina; the Frances to Ponferrada (avoids the beginning and end bits); and the Invierno from Ponferrada? Others can come up with further alternatives. This just popped from my brain to my fingers...

Hope this helps.
 
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KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
I'm ranting. Please forgive me, but here goes - I would have loved to have known all this, right from the start:

"The Camino" has been hyped as one thing:
The True and Only "Whole" Camino starts in St Jean Pied de Port and goes over (only) the Napoleon Route and from there on the Camino Frances to Santiago. And along the way, you will have the complete "camino experience" complete with families, angels, epiphanies, and magical provision.

This mythology bugs a lot of people, and for good reason - it's a modern story, driven by fiction and Hollywood.
Because of it, the Frances is becoming increasingly crowded, each new pilgrim blindly following the stories about the 'true way.'
Because of it, every year there are some people who endanger themselves and rescuers by insisting on illegally taking the napoleon Route in the winter and getting into trouble - because it is the 'real' path.
And because of it, the actual culture of pilgrimage, and of supporting pilgrims is getting overwhelmed by commercialism.

If you have never walked, don't be fooled by the hype and misinformation.
The camino is so much deeper, grittier, more challenging, and three-dimensional than those stories tell.

And there are a huge number of ways to walk if you want to end up in Santiago, each of which is a whole legitimate camino in and of itself. And some of which predate the Frances by a long time.

So if you seek a genuinely quiet and contemplative walk, there are many options, if you have the courage to not blindly follow the crowd. To inspire, here's a wonderful map that @wisepilgrim made, and that @ivar sells in the Forum Store - and that's just in Spain. The entire rest of Europe is equally covered by camino cobwebs.

View attachment 53670

Happy planning and buen caminos, Peregrinas and Peregrinos!
And there aren't even all of the Spanish and Portugues Camin(h)os on this map ;)

So many of them that a person would have to won a lottery to walk all (what's all?) of them :D
 

NorthernLight

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Next we need a Camino that circumnavigates Spain (and maybe Portugal), traveling along shorelines and borders.
There is a hiking route that circumnavigates Europe, according to a woman I met at an albergue north of Porto, who was doing just that.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I was a content and happy lemming as well on more than one Frances, and God willing I will be a happy lemming on the Frances again as well.
If I truly wanted to be alone or in the company of few people on a long backpack trip/walk I would probably just find a route somewhere else, totally non Camino related.
There are times I arrived to walk the Camino and had a lot of time off and wanted to make the most of my journey (most days possible with the best infrastructure) so I choose the full route from Saint Jean. I highly recommend that any first time pilgrim with the time and resources do it as well. Do not be put off by other saying it will be too crowded. So what if it is?
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
Thank you Tom but, sorry, I really hated reading "Napoleon Pass" when you were talking about pre-1800 events. I'm thrilled to read the rest of what you wrote ( but please change typo 2014 to 1214). Anyway I decided to see what the Codex Calixtinus called the pass. What I found was "portuum Ciserae" which Google translated for me as "port of cider" (but who knows how good that is). Note that the SJPdP Pilgrims Office hands out a map of the area titled "Les Ports de Cize".

The Beilari website says:

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port has been an important stop before the crossing of the Pyrenees for centuries. "Pied-de-Port” means: “at the foot of the pass”. This region itself is called the Cize.

In the Codex Calixtinus (12th century) the crossing of the Pyrenees is described as follows:
"There, in that Basque Country, the road of Saint-Jacques joins onto a very high mountain, called the “passage of Cize” (…). Its immense height makes those who mount it think that they touch the canopy of heaven (…). Near this mountain, to the north, is a valley called “Valcarlos”. Pilgrims who go through this valley (…) do not have to climb the mountain."


I haven't yet tried to find the above in the codex.


Some links:
https://www.beilari.info/en/crossing-pyrenees
Codex in Latin (and notes in French): http://www.archive.org/stream/lecodexdesaintj00jamegoog/lecodexdesaintj00jamegoog_djvu.txt
Codex in English: https://sites.google.com/site/caminodesantiagoproject/chapter-ii-the-stages-of-the-camino
 

NorthernLight

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
However, beginning in the 12th century (1100s) , the majority of pilgrims coming from the north transited the Pyrenees at the Napoleon Pass. They first had to stop at the village / town of St. Jean Pied de Port to rest, recover, outfit and prepare themselves for the arduous journey ahead.

This is why the folks in St. Jean Pied de Port proudly tell pilgrims that they have been outfitting and sending pilgrims off to Santiago de Compostela for more than 1,100 years... because they have. Their experience sending off pilgrims started in the late 800's they have been at it ever since.
And St Jean Pied de Port is new! St Jean-le-Vieux was the older staging area, but then 'base camp' moved closer to the pass.

Four km before SJPDP. Lovely village.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
Next we need a Camino that circumnavigates Spain (and maybe Portugal), traveling along shorelines and borders.
Not for pilgrims as these are more for serious hikers or backpackers are the GR trails that follow the Pyrenees from ocean to sea, the GR 10 in France and the GR 11 in Spain.
 

NorthernLight

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
In the Codex Calixtinus (12th century) the crossing of the Pyrenees is described as follows:
"There, in that Basque Country, the road of Saint-Jacques joins onto a very high mountain, called the “passage of Cize” (…). Its immense height makes those who mount it think that they touch the canopy of heaven (…). Near this mountain, to the north, is a valley called “Valcarlos”. Pilgrims who go through this valley (…) do not have to climb the mountain."
So pilgrims went both routes. Of course they did. There were no arrows and they simply followed local advice based on weather and reports of wolves and bandits.

I'm picturing them drinking some warmed up red wine in a bar a week later. "We took the real route." "No, we did."
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
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I so enjoy reading where this thread is going.
And thank you @t2andreo for the thorough Historical context.
Only one thing to add~
MOST, but certainly not all of the pilgrims coming from more northern parts of Europe, over the Pyrenees had to make their way over those mountains to get into the then Kingdoms of Asturias Navarre, or Catalonia, and thence journey to venerate the relics at (what would become) Santiago de Compostela. To do so, they typically, had to avail themselves of four known passes through or around the Pyrenees mountains.
Yes, but (as I understand it, someone please correct me if I am wrong) only once the Reconquista allowed that. Initially pilgrims would have traveled (vaguely) along the Norte/Primativo corridor, and then as it became possible along the Vasco Interior and the Olvidado - and only later as it became possible the easier way across the meseta.

A curious thing that I just learned (thank you Wikipedia...) may just be coincidence, or not: the beginning of the Reconquista was a successful rebellion against the Moorish overlords lead by one Pelagius of Asturias (Pelayo in Spanish!), around 722.

For example, the Camino Invierno from Ponferrada, has been around for hundreds of years, but does not date from medieval times.
As I understand it is actually older - a Roman trade route linking the mines of As Medulas with the trading routes and the sea. On this site, you can put ancient and modern road maps side by side and compare. (Warning - this site is a dangerous rabbit hole, so open only if you have resolve to stay focused.)

Parenthetically, Francis arrived in Santiago in 2014.
That would have been a seriously cute trick - !
🙃😉

nd there aren't even all of the Spanish and Portugues Camin(h)os on this map ;)
Like the Ruta Teresiana - others?
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
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You are correct on all counts, insofar as I understand it. I corrected the errant date.

Recall that the reconquista took a long time, something like five centuries. The political changes causing the shift in Camino starting places from east to west ARE related to clearing the northern territories of Moorish troops and influence. It took until 1492 for the Moors to be pushed out of the Iberian peninsula.

In this context, the Knights Templar were originally commissioned (1119 - 1120) by the Pope to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land. This was later expanded to include protecting pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela.

At that time, the northernmost expansion of Moorish influence was more or less where the Camino Frances is. The Knights Templars established a presence along that line of demarcation to ensure that pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela could be protected from the Moors and from banditry in general.

I recall that the castle in Ponferrada was built by the Knights Templar starting in the late 1100s, leading into the 1200s. It was about a hundred years later (1311) that the Pope had them purged and eliminated as a perceived threat to his power.

There is interesting background material on the Knights Templar here:


Hope this helps.
 

Dorpie

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Well, I have to admit you're absolutely right, at least about the popularity.
But the mythology? Pass.;)
When people talk about things that happened in a certain movie (or book) as if they were real, I tend to think things which are neither kind nor useful, but I can't help it.
Upon reflection and beyond my slightly kneejerky response I find myself agreeing with you a good deal.

While I maintain that the CF is a splendid thing and that ideas of kinship and kindness to strangers tied up in the rather florid terms "camino family" and "camino angel" are a good thing I totally agree that this shouldn't form a proscriptive ruleset for how to do the Camino right any more than where you start or what route you should take.

I was lucky enough to start my time on the road to Santiago without having seen certain ;) movies or read much about it all. As such what I discovered was a delight but I can totally see how someone could arrive at their departure point weighed down by expectations of what their journey had to look like and you are right to balk at that tyranny.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
This quite possibly is the most elitist and didactic thread I have ever observed on this forum. :D
 

CWBuff

Active Member
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in Planning stage: Frances (SJPdP --> SdC) & Finisterre "2021"
I was gonna dismiss Martin Sheen and do as a Great American Forrest Gump did using the words of the song immortalized by AWESOME (GO FLYERS!) Kate Smith ("From Sea to Shining Sea") and chart a new route from (within reasons mainland only) easternmost point in Russia to Finisterre but Google decided to have none of it :)

53700

Kinda sucky... I really wanted to see the possibility of scaling The Urals before even worrying about the Pyrenees 🥾🥾🥾🏔🏔⛰:eek:😇
 

JillGat

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Not for pilgrims as these are more for serious hikers or backpackers are the GR trails that follow the Pyrenees from ocean to sea, the GR 10 in France and the GR 11 in Spain.
How would I find out about these GR trails?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
How would I find out about these GR trails?
I have the (unfortunately still unused) book Through the Spanish Pyrenees by Paul Lucia
(4th Edition 2008 Cicerone Guides isbn 13 978 1 85284 524 7)
It covers the Spanish GR 11 west to east in 46 stages. The French GR 10 parallels it. The GR 10 is greener and wetter.
 

t2andreo

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I was gonna dismiss Martin Sheen and do as a Great American Forrest Gump did using the words of the song immortalized by AWESOME (GO FLYERS!) Kate Smith ("From Sea to Shining Sea") and chart a new route from (within reasons mainland only) easternmost point in Russia to Finisterre but Google decided to have none of it :)

View attachment 53700

Kinda sucky... I really wanted to see the possibility of scaling The Urals before even worrying about the Pyrenees 🥾🥾🥾🏔🏔⛰:eek:😇
I think the current, documented distance record may belong to a Belgian pilgrim. In 2015 (?) he started at St. Basil’s Orthodox Cathedral in the Kremlin, Moscow. His first sello was in Cyrrlic from that church.

He walked west, across the Russian steppes, across Poland, crossed into Germany, then proceeded southwest. He walked across Bavaria and over the Alps into Switzerland. Walking across western Switzerland, he again scaled the Alps to walk into southern Frances.

He crossed Provence, then over the Pyrenees into Spain at the Somport Pass. There, he followed the Camino Aragones to the confluence with the Camino Frances at Puenta la Reina.

Once on the Camino Frances, he continued on to Santiago de Compostela. I was not there the day he arrived. But staff who processed his Compostela and Distance Certificates told me that he covered some 4,100 km. It took four months to cover the distance.

And that is that.
 

VNwalking

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It took four months to cover the distance.
Only?!
Can you imagine the shock of reaching PlR after all that and merging with the CF flow?

This quite possibly is the most elitist and didactic thread I have ever observed on this forum. :D
:rolleyes: Whatever.
We're glad you're appreciating it, @RJM.
 

Scott...O

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Once on the Camino Frances, he continued on to Santiago de Compostela. I was not there the day he arrived. But staff who processed his Compostela and Distance Certificates told me that he covered some 4,100 km. It took four months to cover the distance.
I can’t be the only one that’s done the arithmetic... assuming the maximum 123 days in 4 months (& zero rest days), he walked an average of 33.3 km per day!
 

VNwalking

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I can’t be the only one that’s done the arithmetic... assuming the maximum 123 days in 4 months (& zero rest days), he walked an average of 33.3 km per day!
That was my thought.
:eek:
 

Kathar1na

Member
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Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Only?! Can you imagine the shock of reaching PlR after all that and merging with the CF flow?
Are you talking about Werner van Zuylen? 52 years old, a banker, he started on 15 July 2013 in Moscow and arrived on 15 December 2013 in Compostela. So not much going on in the way of flow on the CF at that time of the year. Passionate about history and fascinated by the language and culture of the largest country in the world which he had visited in 1981 for the first time. I listened into a talk he gave. I don't think he mentions the word pilgrim or pilgrimage once but he talks about the great impact of walking for such a long time through these vast regions. I could relate immediately, much more than to the talk about the camino experience, complete with families, angels, epiphanies, and magical provision. (I really love your description, @VNwalking 😊)

At one point he says: Everyone congratulates me, well done, they say. But no, it was a dream [that I realized]. I did not do more than the postman who does his rounds every day.

"Par ailleurs, on rencontre l'homme dans tout son paradoxe, l'homme capable de fraternité mais aussi habité de haines ancestrales."
 
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Kathar1na

Member
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PS: I think the quote above is a reference to past conflicts and the visible marks you can encounter in the environment in general, not to meeting people during the walk. It's something that struck me, too, and I have strong memories of it.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
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"Par ailleurs, on rencontre l'homme dans tout son paradoxe, l'homme capable de fraternité mais aussi habité de haines ancestrales."
This captures our human complexity so beautifully. Thank you, Katharina.
And here's an article about him and the book he wrote as a result...so lovely to read.
 
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nellpilgrim

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I was going to suggest that we formally convene the first official meeting of the GOP......Grumpy Old Pilgrims association (though of course I'm pretty sure there have been many informal sessions over the years/centuries). I can guarantee that I will be the fastest to point out the hot spot on another pilgrims foot before spotting the crater sized blister on my own-in fact it's my pilgrim super power.
But just as I was just about to wade in with my top 10 of personal pilgrim triggers (I could actually contribute well over 100 but wanted to project some semblance of objectivity) the realisation that the approach of a certain 10th year anniversary was imminent put a stop to my gallop. So on reflection may I suggest that benign tolerance-now steady keep your eyebrows below your hairline as I'm the first one to admit that I can only aspire to such as it goes against my character (snarky), colouring (red head) and DNA (Irish)-is perhaps the only way forward without causing a dangerous increase in our collective blood pressure?
The tolerance shown by more experienced pilgrims to a blithering, blathering, nervous, over enthusiastic, over planned middle aged woman/lemming starting out on her first long distance pilgrimage in SJPP 10 years ago this April is something I'll always grateful for, remember and hold in my heart.
 

NorthernLight

Active Member
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Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
So it took him 6 months - July 15 to Dec 15. Still a heck of a feat ... I wonder how were his feet.

Edited to add the math: 182 days divided into 4100 km = 22.5 km per day.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
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I was going to suggest that we formally convene the first official meeting of the GOP......Grumpy Old Pilgrims association
Ohmyohmy...🤣
The tolerance shown by more experienced pilgrims to a blithering, blathering, nervous, over enthusiastic, over planned middle aged woman/lemming starting out on her first long distance pilgrimage in SJPP 10 years ago this April is something I'll always grateful for, remember and hold in my heart.
Amen.
You appeal to the best in us, Nell. 🙏

. I wonder how were his feet.
He wrote a book, if you can read French...no doubt the feet are in there someplace.
It looks like a wonderful read.
"A pied, de Moscou à Compostelle", Werner van Zuylen, éd. Racine, 198 pages, 19,95 EUR.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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I can’t be the only one that’s done the arithmetic... assuming the maximum 123 days in 4 months (& zero rest days), he walked an average of 33.3 km per day!
I
He wrote a book, if you can read French...no doubt the feet are in there someplace.
It looks like a wonderful read.
"A pied, de Moscou à Compostelle", Werner van Zuylen, éd. Racine, 198 pages, 19,95 EUR.
Thanks, I’ll try and get it!
I’m really impressed, took me 6 months to walk about 4500 km! With a few rest days....
The only other pilgrim we met on that pilgrimage had started in Warsaw, he was going the opposite way, heading for Santiago. Always wondered if he made it 😎
 

Kathar1na

Member
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Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Werner van Zuylen had a blog http://mosaco.eu/ about the walk from Moscow to Santiago but the editor of his book asked him to take it down. You can read it via the Wayback Machine but it's tedious to retrieve the blog entries in this way, obviously.

In 2016, he walked from London to Odessa in the Ukraine: https://lonode.eu/ . The blog is in French, occasionally some English, Spanish and Russian. I see from an earlier thread on this forum that his wife is Galician. London to Odessa is about 3000 km. Early May to early August. So 3 months for 3000 km London to Odessa and 5 months (not 4 and not 6 🤓) for 4500 km Moscow to Santiago.

So about 900-1000 km per month for these ultra long distance walkers. An average of around 30 km per day but they can walk much more in one day. He walked Roncesvalles to Pamplona in one day. The weather in November 2013 was atrocious on that day, too cold and rainy to stop.

It's not really about distances and kilometers or blisters, anyway.
 
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nellpilgrim

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[QUOTE="
Amen.
You appeal to the best in us, Nell.
[/QUOTE]
....well I did say it was aspirational but I also aspire to lose weight....
 

t2andreo

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Thank you Tom but, sorry, I really hated reading "Napoleon Pass" when you were talking about pre-1800 events. I'm thrilled to read the rest of what you wrote ( but please change typo 2014 to 1214). Anyway I decided to see what the Codex Calixtinus called the pass. What I found was "portuum Ciserae" which Google translated for me as "port of cider" (but who knows how good that is). Note that the SJPdP Pilgrims Office hands out a map of the area titled "Les Ports de Cize".

The Beilari website says:

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port has been an important stop before the crossing of the Pyrenees for centuries. "Pied-de-Port” means: “at the foot of the pass”. This region itself is called the Cize.

In the Codex Calixtinus (12th century) the crossing of the Pyrenees is described as follows:
"There, in that Basque Country, the road of Saint-Jacques joins onto a very high mountain, called the “passage of Cize” (…). Its immense height makes those who mount it think that they touch the canopy of heaven (…). Near this mountain, to the north, is a valley called “Valcarlos”. Pilgrims who go through this valley (…) do not have to climb the mountain."



I haven't yet tried to find the above in the codex.


Some links:
https://www.beilari.info/en/crossing-pyrenees
Codex in Latin (and notes in French): http://www.archive.org/stream/lecodexdesaintj00jamegoog/lecodexdesaintj00jamegoog_djvu.txt
Codex in English: https://sites.google.com/site/caminodesantiagoproject/chapter-ii-the-stages-of-the-camino

I made the necessary edits to correct my earlier contribution. Thank you for pointing out the flaws.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
I made the necessary edits to correct my earlier contribution. Thank you for pointing out the flaws.
Tom, the only flaw I saw was the typo. The name of the pass was an author's choice from a few names to choose. You picked one that I hadn't seen often and, at the moment, caused me to wonder about about what the pass was known as pre-Napoleon. Someday I'll have to check up on the cider/cize thing but that will be another day.

I love your posts and greatly appreciate the time and effort you put into them.
 

nellpilgrim

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Then I can thoroughly recommend the "Via Francigena Plan". 66 days from Canterbury to Rome. 33 pounds lost during the trip. Half a pound per day :)
Unfortunately walking makes me hungry & thirsty (& I admit the guilt free "well I've walked 20-30km so I've earned it" logic kicks in big time!) & the food on all the Jakobwegs, Chemin & Camino's is so delicious that I generally come back at just below the weight I set off at. I also actually witnessed a pilgrim's trousers falling off them as they walked along due to pilgrimage weight loss- couldn't face that!
 

Kathar1na

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Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
caused me to wonder about about what the pass was known as pre-Napoleon. Someday I'll have to check up on the cider/cize thing but that will be another day.
There is no pass that is called "Napoleon pass" and never has been. Route Napoleon is basically a fancy name for the trail, like Red Squirrel Trail or Acorn Trail for example.

There's the Bentarte pass and the Lepoeder pass and the Ibañeta pass - three mountain passes that pilgrims walk from SJPP to Roncesvalles in this sequence, often without knowing their names 🙂 or even noticing that they are on the pass. It's all fairly wide and flat after all ...

Cize is the name of the region. Etymology is uncertain, hence open to speculation. Les ports de Cize are the mountain passes of the region. It's not always clear which one(s) are meant. Roncevaux pass often denotes the Ibañeta pass. You can often find confusing or ill-informed statements about these localities on the web.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
Cize is the name of the region. Etymology is uncertain, hence open to speculation.
Thank you @Kathar1na. Just a few minutes ago I was getting out of the shower and thought "I bet Katharina is going to look up Cize for me" (showers clean the dirt from my brain too.) What I said for Tom goes for you too "I love your posts and greatly appreciate the time and effort you put into them."
 

Kathar1na

Member
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Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
@Rick of Rick and Peg, you know that you shouldn't say that ... 🙂. It's just that I seem to know the maps around SJPP by heart now and I remember that we discussed the name Cize before. I've been toying for literally years now with the idea of going on a hiking vacation in or near SJPP ...
 

CWBuff

Active Member
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in Planning stage: Frances (SJPdP --> SdC) & Finisterre "2021"
In 2016, he walked from London to Odessa in the Ukraine: https://lonode.eu/ . ... London to Odessa is about 3000 km. Early May to early August. So 3 months for 3000 km London to Odessa
Odessa happens to be my City of birth. So, IIRC about 2 weeks ago I did the Google on the "Camino Odessa"
(Odessa --> SdC)
Clocked it at 3,750 km, 775 h with a warning (among others) that "This route includes roads that are closed in winter"... Hmmm... I wonder...;)
 

CWBuff

Active Member
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in Planning stage: Frances (SJPdP --> SdC) & Finisterre "2021"
Me too; Peg's. In an albergue. Fortunately for her modesty almost everyone had already left.
I cannot say that I experienced the same (pants falling off that is) but when my son and I were done Camino Inca it was 'close'.
I think i dropped about 20 lbs and he 25 easy...being a young buck he was showing off in front of the does of human nature by climbing every molehill he could (as if being 14000 ft up was not enough already :))
this is on a 3 1/2 day trek technically with 4 pretty darn hard meals a day + our own snacks throughout (beef jerky and apples)
I'll risk them falling off of me now...hope that i can shed some before I start and hopefully even more while at it
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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C inglés. Next: Gd St Bernard to Rome
Unfortunately walking makes me hungry & thirsty (& I admit the guilt free "well I've walked 20-30km so I've earned it" logic kicks in big time!) & the food on all the Jakobwegs, Chemin & Camino's is so delicious that I generally come back at just below the weight I set off at. I also actually witnessed a pilgrim's trousers falling off them as they walked along due to pilgrimage weight loss- couldn't face that!
Yep, walking makes me hungry too! And how!
But I can only agree with @Bradypus on that one, walk the Francigena - or at least the French part - and you WILL lose weight! 😁
I held my trousers with safety pins 😳 until I could buy a smaller size!
 

nellpilgrim

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Having beaten a path down through Germany across Switzerland & into France without shedding real weight I can't imagine how adding delicious Italian food & wine into the mix would help indeed I could go up in size!
I just need to 'stay away from the table' on whatever pilgrimage path I'm on 🙁
 

Just_Me

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues (April 2019)
it was Shirley MacLaine's memoir, which I'd read back in 2001, that put the Camino on my radar and I was determined to experience it for myself. Life took many twists and turns and when I was finally ready for it the CF had turned into something quite different from what I wanted to experience. I have never watched the Hollywood movie or whatever set off the mass pilgrimages, so I don't know about the sudden attraction. Change of plans was called for and I settled for the Camino Portuguese instead. 8 more sleeps - bring it on!
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
. I have never watched the Hollywood movie or whatever set off the mass pilgrimages, so I don't know about the sudden attraction.
The effect of "The Way" on the Caminos is often greatly exaggerated. Numbers were already rising very rapidly well before the release of the film in 2010 and growth afterwards was pretty much a continuation of this upwards trend and not the sudden astronomical leap that we are sometimes led to believe.

 

Albertagirl

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True. And those of us who have walked the Camino Frances and one or more of the less-walked routes have personal experience on which to base a comparison. Some of us who advocate alternative routes may be looking for things that we found very special about that Camino Frances journey but which are almost impossible to recapture in the three-ring-circus which the Frances has now become. They may also share my irritation when someone then asks them on completion of their journey if they intend to walk "the real Camino" sometime :mad:🙄
But, @Bradypus
As someone who has walked a couple of other caminos after the Frances (one, in part, in your company) I just find a question like this hilarious. Ignorance and rudeness together can be so funny. 😁
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I just find a question like this hilarious. Ignorance and rudeness together can be so funny.
Sometimes :) A while back someone asked "How do I get to the start of the Camino?" without saying which Camino or where they were travelling from. When I asked them to be more specific the answer was "the one that goes to Santiago" :rolleyes:
 

AlwynWellington

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please see signature
@VNwalking , thanks for starting this "didactic and elitist", and very interesting thread. I, for one, have enjoyed reading all the points made.

One aspect for any trip is: where to start. And I really like the observation: a pilgrimage starts at your front door (or before).

With that in mind, when walking in France and Spain, one topic often came up in conversation: where do you come from? When my companion of the moment recognised my home was "at the furthest ends of the earth" I then added "And yes I swam here. Across the Tasman Sea and Indian Ocean, around the bottom of Africa and up the west coast, and landed at Biaritz (or Calais). " I would try to keep a poker face. Until I saw the twinkle in their eyes.

Kia kaha katoa (all of you take care, be strong)
 

Camino Chris

Take one step forward...then keep on walking.
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I have not taken the time to read all the many responses on this very fine and contemplative thread, but I have found positive value in the ones I have read, even those with conflicting opinions! I still relate to each post in some capacity...How can that be, and yet it's true for me!
Thanks for starting this thread, VN!
See ya on the Not!
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/?/Invierno ('19)
this very fine and contemplative thread,
...is made up of fine and contemplative people, with a lot worth sharing
Thanks again back everyone.

The effect of "The Way" on the Caminos is often greatly exaggerated.
I tend to include Shirley and Paolo in having a hand creating a Hollywood effect...especially Shirley. And she wrote that book ages before the movie...

A while back someone asked "How do I get to the start of the Camino?" without saying which Camino or where they were travelling from. When I asked them to be more specific the answer was "the one that goes to Santiago" :rolleyes:
Hahahaha...yes. It'd be hard not to chuckle when hearing that.

The wry and intelligent humor here...that's another matter...
I then added "And yes I swam here. Across the Tasman Sea and Indian Ocean, around the bottom of Africa and up the west coast, and landed at Biaritz (or Calais). " I would try to keep a poker face. Until I saw the twinkle in their eyes.
What, Alwyn, you didn't take the shortcut through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal? Ah, you must be a real pilgrim!
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
@VNwalking , thanks for the prompt. I should have thought of that, having an uncle buried in the Port Said Military Cemetery (Diphtheria, January 1917).
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/?/Invierno ('19)
@VNwalking , thanks for the prompt. I should have thought of that, having an uncle buried in the Port Said Military Cemetery (Diphtheria, January 1917).
Next time.;)

(And more seriously...I'm struck by both the immediacy and distance of that. 101 years, over a century - but there is still the link of a powerful family story, with all its details. And knowing also how quickly the vividness and details of stories and our experiences of them will submerge under the weight of time's passing, once direct connection is lost. "We will never forget" only lasts a few generations.

So too all the old camino myths and stories and the way the camino is collectively understood are continually morphing. The 'real' camino is a moving target that we try to capture and put in a box. But it will never fit..)

And @Alwyn...Kei konā te aroha me te whakaaro...kia kaha katoa, Aotearoa...
 
Last edited:

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Thank you for appreciating the effort that goes into providing serious content.
I forgot to include supercilious as well in a description of this thread. 🤣
Nonetheless, I will continue to blindly follow the crowd, on wards...on wards towards the cliffs, and then plummeting to cruel jagged rocks below. Too lacking in courage to deviate from the path.
but still enjoying myself along the Way, Camino Frances...perhaps hanging with a few of the same people for a while. A family of sorts, but always eventually moving on and walking alone again. Maybe experiencing a Camino angel, whatever that may be.
Maybe I can be that angel. Was I an angel when I carried a young peregrina's pack for her for a day after she injured her knee? I did not think of myself as one. Just thought I was doing the right thing. Maybe she thought of me as one? I have no idea. I never saw her again after that. Or the time an older pilgrim passed out on the path during a very hot day, falling on top of his wife, her yelling for help. I thought I was the only one around, but suddenly within a moment, there were several of us. Removing his boots and pack. Getting him to shade. One pilgrim had an electrolyte pack and a bottle of water for him. The pilgrim came to, embarrassed but grateful and we stayed with him until he was up and around again, got him to eat a banana and an energy bar and took our advice to taxi in the remaining 10 km's and we waited with him, and then as suddenly as it started, it was over and everybody was back walking and dispersed. Where did they come from so quickly. Kinda magical, and mind you I am no mystical magical, overly philosophical guy. More Philistine than philosopher.
As far as epiphanies go, I had one way before I ever walked the Camino.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/?/Invierno ('19)
@RJM a little irony never goes amiss, so long as we know that's what that is...
🙏;)

Kindness like that...beautiful...what you did for others, naturally and without any planning or pretense, is what makes the camino special, not iconic 'experiences.'
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
I forgot to include supercilious as well in a description of this thread. 🤣
Nonetheless, I will continue to blindly follow the crowd, on wards...on wards towards the cliffs, and then plummeting to cruel jagged rocks below. Too lacking in courage to deviate from the path.
but still enjoying myself along the Way, Camino Frances...perhaps hanging with a few of the same people for a while. A family of sorts, but always eventually moving on and walking alone again. Maybe experiencing a Camino angel, whatever that may be.
Maybe I can be that angel. Was I an angel when I carried a young peregrina's pack for her for a day after she injured her knee? I did not think of myself as one. Just thought I was doing the right thing. Maybe she thought of me as one? I have no idea. I never saw her again after that. Or the time an older pilgrim passed out on the path during a very hot day, falling on top of his wife, her yelling for help. I thought I was the only one around, but suddenly within a moment, there were several of us. Removing his boots and pack. Getting him to shade. One pilgrim had an electrolyte pack and a bottle of water for him. The pilgrim came to, embarrassed but grateful and we stayed with him until he was up and around again, got him to eat a banana and an energy bar and took our advice to taxi in the remaining 10 km's and we waited with him, and then as suddenly as it started, it was over and everybody was back walking and dispersed. Where did they come from so quickly. Kinda magical, and mind you I am no mystical magical, overly philosophical guy. More Philistine than philosopher.
As far as epiphanies go, I had one way before I ever walked the Camino.
For what it is worth, many of us have had similar experiences over the years helping others along the Camino. Helping others is what do, and what we are all about.

Personally, I have enough, similar stories to write a book. I have been asked to, repeatedly. But, I have so far demurred. Very few of us seek personal approbation.

It is said that “the Camino provides.” Now you know the secret... do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Pay it forward...

Welcome to our magnificent obsession...
 
Last edited:

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
@VNwalking , thanks for the prompt. I should have thought of that, having an uncle buried in the Port Said Military Cemetery (Diphtheria, January 1917).
@AlwynWellington The grandfather I am named after died in the sinking of the Lancastria during the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force in WW2. He is buried in the military cemetery in the small coastal town of Pornic near Nantes. An important factor in choosing my route when I walked from my home in Wales to SJPDP. Though I cheated and took a ferry for the wet salty part ;) Having breakfast in a cafe at a supermarket on the edge of town a man spotted my rucksack and walked over to ask me where I was walking to. He also asked why I chose to pass through such an out-of-the-way spot. When I mentioned the connection with my grandfather he walked over to the two other occupied tables and spoke quietly with the people there. Then every customer in the place stood, walked over to me and shook my hand. A very moving experience.
 

FLEUR

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
Bradypus
What an amazing experience in that cafe and the customers acknowledging the price your grandfather paid . The story has really moved me. Thanks for sharing.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I tend to include Shirley and Paolo in having a hand creating a Hollywood effect...especially Shirley. And she wrote that book ages before the movie...
Don Elias published his guide in 1984. Senhor Coelho published his very strange book in 1987. So are you suggesting there was just a three-year golden age before the Tinseltown rot set in? What a ray of sunshine you are this morning @VNwalking! ;):)
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/?/Invierno ('19)
Don Elias published his guide in 1984. Senhor Coelho published his very strange book in 1987. So are you suggesting there was just a three-year golden age before the Tinseltown rot set in?
Since I wasn't there what do I know? Approximately nothing.
But let's just say the strangeness of the book started something. Then Shirley followed with something else that was also something.;)
What a ray of sunshine you are this morning @VNwalking! ;):)
Uh-huh.
That's par for the grumpy course.:cool:
 

CWBuff

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
in Planning stage: Frances (SJPdP --> SdC) & Finisterre "2021"
Speaking of Senhor Coelho - we are starting to read The Alchemist in my book club this week and of course the topic of the proper pronunciation of his name came up
So - IYHO - is it Co-el-LO or Co-el-HO?
 

CWBuff

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
in Planning stage: Frances (SJPdP --> SdC) & Finisterre "2021"

CWBuff

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
in Planning stage: Frances (SJPdP --> SdC) & Finisterre "2021"
To some extend returning it to the topic - here is a map I found on Wiki
53836

I don't think that I am adding anything new except in a way confirming that one can start on the Camino anywhere within Continental Europe (and by extension even Asia) and just walk to SdC however long it would take them
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) portugues(2013)San Salvador (2017)
@AlwynWellington The grandfather I am named after died in the sinking of the Lancastria during the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force in WW2. He is buried in the military cemetery in the small coastal town of Pornic near Nantes. An important factor in choosing my route when I walked from my home in Wales to SJPDP. Though I cheated and took a ferry for the wet salty part ;) Having breakfast in a cafe at a supermarket on the edge of town a man spotted my rucksack and walked over to ask me where I was walking to. He also asked why I chose to pass through such an out-of-the-way spot. When I mentioned the connection with my grandfather he walked over to the two other occupied tables and spoke quietly with the people there. Then every customer in the place stood, walked over to me and shook my hand. A very moving experience.
oh! such a lovely story, such a moving experience! Of this we are made, formed, learn to be gentle and try to form the future generation!
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
@Bradypus and @VNwalking , war stuff was a lot simpler in my uncle's day. War was declared on 1 August 1914, he signed up on 12 August and within days he was on a troop ship out of Wellington on the way to Samoa to "acquire" an enemy radio capable of broadcasting around the south Pacific. In 1915 he returned to his mother's home town and enlisted in a mounted rifles regiment (nothing if not versatile). Later, with training complete, he was shipped to Egypt. The issue for mounted units in Egypt wanting to engage with an enemy in Jordan and Palestine was getting water for horses across the Sinai. So, many short range raids and back to base.

As far as I know no family have been to his grave in Port Said. So I may become a unique lemming and, when the auspices are favourable, do a side trip.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/?/Invierno ('19)
Les ports de Cize are the mountain passes of the region. It's not always clear which one(s) are meant. Roncevaux pass often denotes the Ibañeta pass.
An afterthought...or rather, an after-question, because I'm just curious...
Do you know if the Belate pass (in the Camino Baztan) is included in that, @Kathar1na ?

The issue for mounted units in Egypt wanting to engage with an enemy in Jordan and Palestine was getting water for horses across the Sinai.
It is completely amazing how much can change in a few generations.
Camino culture and technology included.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
To some extend returning it to the topic - here is a map I found on Wiki
View attachment 53836

I don't think that I am adding anything new except in a way confirming that one can start on the Camino anywhere within Continental Europe (and by extension even Asia) and just walk to SdC however long it would take them
Interesting that Saint Jean Pied de Port is not even on this map. :cool:
 

CWBuff

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
in Planning stage: Frances (SJPdP --> SdC) & Finisterre "2021"
I could be wrong but it looks to me like they are 'zeroing-in' on slightly larger cities...although Roncesvalles is there
Interesting thing about Ostabat on Wiki:

Ostabat-Asme (Basque: Izura-Azme), Hostavalem in the Middle Ages, is a commune in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, formerly located in the region described for many centuries as Lower Navarre, in south-western France. It was the meeting point of 4 European ways to Santiago de Compostela, 3 of them joining together there, namely Paris - Tours - Poitiers - Dax, from Center - Europe linking to Limoges, from Genoa and Lyon through Moissac, the fourth one the Toulouse way, linking Central Italy with the Languedoc region, the Toulouse region and linking though the Béarn region, via Lescar-Oloron to Somport, Spain, and the Spanish Pyrénées.

The 3 linked Saint James ways proceed from there, through Larceveau-Arros-Cibits, Ainhice-Mongelos, Gamarthe, Lacarre and Iriberry towards Saint-Jean-le-Vieux, (43º09'57"N, 1º11'32" W), a.k.a. Donazaharre to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, and to the Spanish Frontier, Roncesvalles, (42º59'23"N, 1º20'4"W) .


It is and it was thus located in the former province of Lower Navarre. It gives its name to the region of Ostabarret.
 

Beeman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo,2017,Argonne and salvador,sept.2019
I'm ranting. Please forgive me, but here goes - I would have loved to have known all this, right from the start:

"The Camino" has been hyped as one thing:
The True and Only "Whole" Camino starts in St Jean Pied de Port and goes over (only) the Napoleon Route and from there on the Camino Frances to Santiago. And along the way, you will have the complete "camino experience" complete with families, angels, epiphanies, and magical provision.

This mythology bugs a lot of people, and for good reason - it's a modern story, driven by fiction and Hollywood.
Because of it, the Frances is becoming increasingly crowded, each new pilgrim blindly following the stories about the 'true way.'
Because of it, every year there are some people who endanger themselves and rescuers by insisting on illegally taking the napoleon Route in the winter and getting into trouble - because it is the 'real' path.
And because of it, the actual culture of pilgrimage, and of supporting pilgrims is getting overwhelmed by commercialism.

If you have never walked, don't be fooled by the hype and misinformation.
The camino is so much deeper, grittier, more challenging, and three-dimensional than those stories tell.

And there are a huge number of ways to walk if you want to end up in Santiago, each of which is a whole legitimate camino in and of itself. And some of which predate the Frances by a long time.

So if you seek a genuinely quiet and contemplative walk, there are many options, if you have the courage to not blindly follow the crowd. To inspire, here's a wonderful map that @wisepilgrim made, and that @ivar sells in the Forum Store - and that's just in Spain. The entire rest of Europe is equally covered by camino cobwebs.

View attachment 53670

Happy planning and buen caminos, Peregrinas and Peregrinos!
VN, I could not agree with you more. Having viewed the de lana camino,I wondered why more people did not walk it. I am always surprized when almost everyone suggests the frances as a must-do for a person's first camino. I thought any camino would make a good first camino(maybe I am just naive). I walked the primitivo and loved it! Would everyone-who knows. This fall I am walking from Pau to Oviedo(with small bus ride to Leon),because I like mountains. I find nothing about the frances appealing,but of course that is only my opinion. Others are free to do what they want,but as the frances seems to have reached capacity,maybe other caminos could be looked at. Whichever one chooses,the outcome will usually be very good. And most importantly,as always-BUEN CAMINO.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
I have walked all of the Camino Frances for my first camino, and most of it, from Puente la Reina, on my second camino. Then I walked the VdlP. That was a very different experience. There were things that I liked about the Camino Frances, that were important to me as a pilgrim, which did not exist on the VdlP. I was used to evening worship services for pilgrims on the Frances, with a pilgrim blessing. On the Frances, I attended mass whenever it was available to me, although as an Anglican Christian I could not receive communion. Church services accessible to walking pilgrims were almost non-existent on the VdlP. I don't think that I ever succeeded in attending any church service on the VdlP except for two memorial services in the evening, when I went with locals or followed the ringing bells to the church. And there were a few churches in major cities where the doors were open and I was able to sit in silence inside. I don't think it would be exaggerating to say that for many religious pilgrims access to churches and services is an important part of our pilgrim experience. From my limited experience, this may not be nearly as available on other camino routes. I leave it to individuals to decide whether this characteristic of the Frances gives it some sort of priority as a camino route.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances SJPP to Santiago (2016), Le Puy en Velay to SJPP (2018), Santiago to Muxia (2018),
The best Camino forum I have read since I joined. I am not going to add to it, it has already been said, and I applaude all the different opinions, probably agree with all of them, and appreciate all the information contained within.
Camino Frances was my first foray into a whole new world, and after completing The Arles Route next year, hope to walk the Frances again. I love being a part of this vast and diverse community.
 

Silencio Por Favor

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Ingles 2018
I believe that when a good percentage of people first become aware of the Camino it is the Frances, therefore the perception of being the "Real" one?
As a relative rookie having only walked the Ingles so far, an experience that was a combination of...social, spiritual, adventure, challenge, culture, history........Myself, my wife and our daughter found this to be very "Real"!
 

pilgrimglenn7

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
st james way and portugese
I'm ranting. Please forgive me, but here goes - I would have loved to have known all this, right from the start:

"The Camino" has been hyped as one thing:
The True and Only "Whole" Camino starts in St Jean Pied de Port and goes over (only) the Napoleon Route and from there on the Camino Frances to Santiago. And along the way, you will have the complete "camino experience" complete with families, angels, epiphanies, and magical provision.

This mythology bugs a lot of people, and for good reason - it's a modern story, driven by fiction and Hollywood.
Because of it, the Frances is becoming increasingly crowded, each new pilgrim blindly following the stories about the 'true way.'
Because of it, every year there are some people who endanger themselves and rescuers by insisting on illegally taking the napoleon Route in the winter and getting into trouble - because it is the 'real' path.
And because of it, the actual culture of pilgrimage, and of supporting pilgrims is getting overwhelmed by commercialism.

If you have never walked, don't be fooled by the hype and misinformation.
The camino is so much deeper, grittier, more challenging, and three-dimensional than those stories tell.

And there are a huge number of ways to walk if you want to end up in Santiago, each of which is a whole legitimate camino in and of itself. And some of which predate the Frances by a long time.

So if you seek a genuinely quiet and contemplative walk, there are many options, if you have the courage to not blindly follow the crowd. To inspire, here's a wonderful map that @wisepilgrim made, and that @ivar sells in the Forum Store - and that's just in Spain. The entire rest of Europe is equally covered by camino cobwebs.

View attachment 53670

Happy planning and buen caminos, Peregrinas and Peregrinos!
and bicigrinios like me :) thanks and thats an awesome map :)
 

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