El Camino de Santiago: Highlights and Lowlights From Our First Week

“In the first third of the trip, your body will break.  Then in the second third, your mind will break.  And then, in the final third, suddenly you’ll be able to do whatever you want.”  — Paul, an interesting guy we met at the albergue (pilgrim hostel) in St. Jean Pied-de-Port.


9 days into our long walk along El Camino de Santiago, we are finding that our bodies do indeed break a little quicker than our spirits.  Nothing serious has broken, but our bones and feet aren’t the happiest they’ve ever been.  Here’s a quick look into some of the highlights and lowlights from El Camino so far.


  1. Walking through beautiful countryside every single day.  For about 15-30 km, depending.  Seriously, it’s like we’re walking through Mossflower country from the Redwall books.
  2. Eating like Europeans.  These folks know how to eat!
  3. Meeting all sorts of other pilgrims along the way.  Interestingly, there are absolute buckets of Australians.  Who knew??
  4. Going to church.  It’d been a really long time for me.  And this has been a pretty different church experience for me.  We’ve been to 4 Catholic masses over the past few weeks, in 3 different languages.  Pretty eye-opening for this non-Catholic!
  5. Speaking Spanish with the locals.  This has been a re-education for me, since I really hadn’t spoken in Spanish this much since I finished my minor in it back in 2004.  There’ve been lots of blank stares, lots of hand motions, and lots of laughter.  I gained some confidence in my skills when I successfully shooed the abuelita who runs an albergue as she tried to get me to stop washing my dishes so she could do them.
  6. Taking pictures, but also balancing this with just soaking it all up with my eyes and letting a few good pictures go uncaptured.


  1. Walking with completely saturated shoes from slogging through an unexpected 8 inches of snow in the Pyrenees.
  2. Getting blisters on our feet.  Right after we proclaimed that the whole blisters thing was nonsense and that we never get blisters.  Ouch!
  3. Sore muscles and bones every single day.  Sometimes followed by some not-so-warm showers, which just makes everything a little worse.
  4. Actually, that’s it!  That’s all I can think of.  Not bad!

Here are some photos that seem to show a little bit of what we’ve seen and where we’ve been.  What an adventure!!

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7 Responses to El Camino de Santiago: Highlights and Lowlights From Our First Week

  1. Wow! This scenery is absolutely incredible! I am so happy for you all and that you get to be surrounded by beauty everyday.

  2. Martha Grimes says:

    What a grand adventure. I think this will be the highlight of scores of great memories. Ben Gay?

  3. Rosanne Davis says:

    thank you for sharing all that beauty with us! What an adventure!

  4. Pingback: Halfway Through El Camino De Santiago, Where Expectations and Reality Meet in the Middle… Sometimes | The Year of Fun

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