CAMINO FRANCES – We are here (Pamplona, Spain)


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

We 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. From being comfortable to totally out of our comfort zone!

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. Does it sound daunting? To me, it did … but this was a challenge we were dreaming of for years and very much looking forward to.


Yellow arrows and scallop shells – 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! Oh my, what is a pilgrim on a walking journey without a backpack? The airport staff in Madrid 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 found our seats on the midnight bus from Madrid to Pamplona with only the clothes we’ve had on. We had a booking for one night in Aloha Hostel and were still convinced that we would start our Camino the next day (Monday morning). But the Camino threw us a curveball even before we started, because our backpacks only arrived after lunch on Monday and we had to postponed our start to the next day, Tuesday.

Lesson learnedThings don’t always work out the way you planned it. Accept it and move on

In hindsight, it was probably a good thing that our backpacks took 2 days to get to us. Now, we had chance to recover from our long flight from Cape Town and more time to discover the beautiful city of Pamplona. This was unplanned, but we’re actually so happy we had the time to see more of Pamplona … it’s gorgeous city!

Here are a few photos 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

Our scallop shells – 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 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 we could embark on our journey.

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


5 thoughts on “CAMINO FRANCES – We are here (Pamplona, Spain)

    1. Oh dear Carolyn … I think you must have had a difficult job! Our lost backpacks were actually just the cherry on the cake of a difficult flight. A rain storm in Dubai (of all places!), delayed our flight already back in Cape Town. And when we arrived at Dubai, there were too many planes in the “queue” to land and we had to divert and landed on an abandoned air strip (together with about 5 other planes). Here, we had to sit for 5 hours in the plane (without any food or water) until we got clearance to land in Dubai … a trip that took only 10 minutes! We were so long on that plane, that the crew later left the plane and were replaced by new crew (pilot and air hostesses). What one will endure to have a good time …

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      1. Diverted flights….awful to be on board and a nightmare for the employees concerned. I have been on both sides of that scenario! But rain in Dubai…and you were there for it!!

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      2. Since I’ve also been in customer service, I always think of what is happening “behind the scenes” with employees running around to try and find solutions for difficult situations. Exactly, we saw a desert that was drenched in water … it was fascinating!

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