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Our First Official Day (Day 0) Camino De Santiago 2016

The Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James, is a pilgrimage of Medieval Origin to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, in the North West of Spain.

Legend has it that the remains of the Apostle Saint James the Great were buried here and discovered by a shepherd in the 9th century (read more about the history of the Camino). The city is, in fact, named after the apostle: Santiago de Compostela means St James of the Field of Stars.

The Camino de Santiago has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage for its important role in encouraging cultural exchanges between people from all over Europe and the world for many centuries. So, what exactly is the Camino de Santiago, then?

Today, more than a pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago is a unique experience and trip of a lifetime, with its routes attracting thousands of people from all over the world.

The following is my journey with my friend Melissa. Melissa is one of my oldest and dearest friends. Mel and I have had many adventures together in the 30 years or so years that we have been friends. Over the course of the years, we have driven across the country several times, climbed pyramids, braved sailing, tailgating, drove teens in the church van multiple time, and visited the Ice Castle in Quebec. We have gotten stranded in snow in the middle of the night, seen Jimmy Buffett in concert more times than we can count, and a lot more.

Here is a glimpse at our adventure in Spain...

May 20, 2016

While waiting at the gate for our Biarritz flight to Madrid, we began to meet other Pilgrims. Linda from California approached us first. She has spent the last few months volunteering in an Albergue on the Camino del Norte. Linda introduced us to Cindy from Portland. She is meeting her brother. While being transported to our plane, we met Yannick from Germany, we also met two people from Steubenville. Small world. So happy that we landed in France. I was excited to get an additional stamp on my passport. Alas, the passport stamping was not manned. On the bright side, I got to use my basic French and amuse a policeman, the help desk lady, and our cab driver. We Shared a cab with Yannick, who is 20 years old. He is blunt and amusing. He is well-read. He likes to quote Napoleon and is studying Business Administration. Upon arrival at our hotel, we were delighted that we had a whole one-bedroom apartment to ourselves. However, the twin beds are made for little people. I hope I don’t fall off tonight. That would not be good.

Mel went to the post office while I showered. It was so delightful. Washed my hair and all. Shortly after the shower, I discovered I had no hairdryer or product.

We headed out to the pharmacy to try to secure an inhaler for me for the walk. No such luck communicating with the pharmacist. We decided we would try in Spain.

We went to the Pilgrim's Office and picked up our credentials. The guy that helped us only spoke French and highlighted the SUPER hard trail. (We must look like we are in great shape. We kindly asked him to point out the easy route since rain is expected Sunday and we don’t want to fall off the mountain.

After getting to stamp out our own Pilgrim passports, we picked our shells. I almost broke Melissa’s before leaving there, but thankfully it was fine.

We walked up the wall of the citadel and enjoyed the gorgeous view.

Felt since we had over 14K on our Fitbits, a carb-loading dinner would be okay.

After dinner, we came to do the laundry. It was sad that two smart, educated women had a hard time figuring out how to operate the machines. But we did. All directions were in French.

We also stopped at the local church to pray. For safety, fortitude, and comfort for those, we left at home who are hurting.

The Steubenville crowd is staying at our hotel tonight. Perhaps our paths will cross again.

The church bells are ringing as I sit on the sidewalk of this cobblestone road. I am taking a minute to cherish the peaceful sounds that echo as the sun begins to set on our first full day of this pilgrimage.

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