By the time you read this, we will be en route to St. Jean Pied de Port in France. I expect that I will be able to post from time to time, from internet cafes in cities, but not every day. Pictures will probably wait until our return. I therefore decided to mention something that doesn't require photos today. (Spearing my knuckle on the rose bush this morning only helped that idea along. Now I am holding ice to my swollen hand to get the huge "ball" to go down!)
Two years ago, when my sweetie first proposed that we make this pilgrimage together, we didn’t know very much about it at all. So, this being the Internet age, we looked it up online.
We found books at Amazon.com. Our family gave us other books for Christmas. (As well as Buffs for each of us—Lycra neck wraps that can either be hats or neck scarves or face covers.) One was from National Geographic, The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide, by Andrew Skurka. Another was a map book, from pilipalapress.com--water resistant paper, too.
We found books at our local Barnes and Noble, too—well, one that we bought there: DK eyewitness Travel: Northern Spain. It has pictures, but it really doesn’t consider most of the Camino route to be in its area of discussion. There is information about Santiago de Compostela, with pictures and diagrams of various parts of a cathedral, etc.
From Amazon, in paper and Kindle formats, all that I could remember or find on the shelf:
To the Field of Stars, by Fr. Kevin A Codd. A Camino memoir.
Seven Tips to Make the Most of the Camino de Santiago, by Cheri Powell
Hiking the Camino: 500 Miles with Jesus, by Fr. Dave Pivonka. A Camino memoir.
1001 Most Useful Spanish Words (Dover Language Guides Spanish) (Kindle format). Because I have such a small vocabulary. British English seems to be the author's normal speech form, not American English.
Grandma's on the Camino: Reflections on a 48-Day Walking Pilgrimage to Santiago, by Mary O'Hara Wyman (Kindle format). A Camino memoir.
Walking Guide to the Camino de Santiago History Culture Architecture from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela and Finisterre (CaminoGuide.net eBooks), by Gerald Kelly (Kindle format)
The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook, by David M. Gitlitz & Linda Kay Davidson (liked it so much in paper that I bought it again in Kindle to carry)
A Pilgrim's Guide to the Camino de Santiago: St. Jean * Roncesvalles * Santiago (Camino Guides), by John Brierley (We also have the map-only book he put out. Yes that means we have accumulated 2 water-resistant paper and 1 Kindle map books. Plus the Gitlitz & Davidson which has some map information in it also.)
I have learned from every one of these books. From Father Codd’s book, I learned that many of the churches along the way have Adoration chapels. (Capilla de la Santísima)
From Ms. Powell’s book, many helpful suggestions on packing.
From Ms. Wyman’s book, that I would need trekking poles. (Yes, they are talked about a lot—but this lady fell on her behind, with flip, twice on her first day, and again on the second day, but after she bought poles in Pamplona she didn’t fall down any more. Since “Grace” is not my middle name ;-) I learned from her experience and bought the poles.) Also, she found freezing rain and icy slush in mid to late May on the meseta--warm South Texas it isn't!
An especially informative resource on the web is http://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/ The Camino de Santiago Forum, with about a bazillion different discussions to read.
It's going to be an adventure.