The Camino de Santiago, The Way of St. James, Pilgrim’s Journey … so many names for a very, very long walk!

We’ve had some life style changes to make and figured out the best way to do this is to break away from the known to the unknown.

Therefor, in March 2017, our backpacks were packed and we were ready to leave Cape Town for a 5 week walking journey of  about 720km in Spain … it sounded a bit daunting (to me anyway), but this was a challenge we were very much looking forward to.


The yellow arrows and scallop shells are the way markers on the Camino de Santiago

Our adventure already started on our way to Spain with us arriving in Madrid without our backpacks! The airport staff informed us that our backpacks were still in Dubai, but that they would make sure it got to us.

Lesson learnedNext time, get a smaller backpack that can fit as carry-on luggage

In good faith we’ve got on the midnight bus from Madrid to Pamplona with only the clothes we’ve had on. We’ve booked into Aloha Hostel and were still convinced that we would start our Camino the next day (Monday morning). Our backpacks however only arrived after lunch on Monday and we’ve had to postponed our start to Tuesday.

Lesson learnedThings don’t always work out the way you’ve planned it. Accept, and plan around it

In retrospect, it was probably a good thing that our backpacks took 2 days to get to us. We’ve had a chance to recover from our long flight from Cape Town and more time to discover the beautiful city of Pamplona.

Here are a few shots taken in Pamplona:

Pamp 6

Beautiful Pamplona


Our “Credencial del Peregrino” – issued by the The Confraternity of Saint James of South Africa. Over the next couple of weeks, we will accumulate many “sellos” (stamps) from each albergue/hostel where we will stay

Just a side note here to our fellow South Africans:

Contact The Confraternity of Saint James of South Africa (you will find them here) to assist you in your initial preparation for the Camino. They are based in Milnerton, a suburb of Cape Town, and have assisted us with all our enquiries and the necessary paperwork to apply for our Schengen Visas (which South Africans will need to travel to Spain).

History on the Camino shell:

Camino shells

The scallop shell – a symbol of direction on the Camino

It is said that this symbol is a metaphor – its lines represent the different routes traveled by pilgrims from all over the world, which all lead to one point – the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela.

Pilgrims wear this symbol themselves which further enhances the camaraderie along this great walking trail. You will find the scallop shell on the milestone markers which are guiding pilgrims in the right direction.

We have bought our shells at a shop in Pamplona and tied it to the front of our backpacks … this was the last thing we had to do, before embarking on our journey.

Day 1 (of 29 days in total) will follow in the next post …

Categories: Camino Frances (April 2017)

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