We are going to St. Jean Pied de Port in the south of France to begin The Camino de Santiago de Compostela, also known in English as The Way of St James. A walk of approximately 800 Kilometers, there are some various in the route, so the actual distance varies.
For the modern pilgrim or traveller the camino seems to start at one of the many pilgrimage offices along the route, and while many routes have been regaining popularity the “French Way” beginning at St. Jean Pied de Port is the most famous and most popular. there is plenty of written material, guides, maps, and stories available to acquaint yourself of the route.
In medieval times a camino or pilgrimage began the moment a person left home, often there was a formal send off from the town square. Our journey also began at home, many months before we left home. Once the decision was made to walk the camino de Santiago de Compostella, we had to decide on the route. Books, blogs, and internet discussion forums were read, information gathered. We decided that since this was our first camino we would take the road most travelled, the French route from St. Jean Pied de Port. through the Pyrenees, Pamplona, Burgos, Leon.
We researched and purchased backpacks, walking shoes, sleeping backs, and rain gear. We read about packing lists, training guidelines, and bedbugs. We reviewed flickr and goggle images to see the places we would travel through. We read about the legends, architecture and the weather. There was so much to learn. Bill and I are planners, learning everything we can before we go.
We set up a training schedule, one that is necessary for getting use to the weight of the backpack and breaking in our new boots. Unfortunately life gets in the way, our training did not go as planned and we did not get the training we had hoped for. That does not deter us, we are heading out anyway!
As a photographer I couldn’t image taking this trip without my camera, a couple of lenses and of course a tripod. I needed to find out if I could process and blog as we travelled, or purchase enough storage to keep all the images until I got home. I decide to carry a small laptop and portable hard drive so I could at least store my images, and if possible continue with my blogging when time, energy and internet would allow. With that decision we added to the packing list; battery charges, cords, and power transformers.
We had read that our pack should not be anymore than 10% of our body weight to be comfortable and safe over a long distance, we kept checking the weight of our pack. We are close, maybe a little heavier than they should be, but close.
We need travel arrangements from Calgary to St. Jean Pied de Port, and then home again. A flight from Calgary to Toronto, Toronto to Paris, train to Biarritz France where we will overnight. The a train to St Jean Pied de Port, where we will start the walk.
We leave home today. The time for training is over, and while the backpack feels good, and the shoes are broken in. We are looking forward to the adventure. I am sure there will be days that will be harder than we expected, I am also sure there will lots of wonderful moments, beautiful towns and interesting people along the way. I am sure there will be great stories to share, we will try to blog as we go and we hope you will join us as we travel.
Below is a list of some great sites for information, maps and guides: