For about 8 years, I played with the idea to go the Way of St. James. As with many other Germans, for me, the book “I am gone” by Harpe Kerkeling was the initial trigger to want to go this way.
In the middle of 2018, the time had finally come and I flew to France to start my 800KM Way of St. James from Saint-Jean-Pied-De-Port. Since I spend most of the day in front of a screen because of my work, I have decided not to take my computer or my cell phone on this trip. I wanted to be completely offline for a month, which I managed with a few exceptions (check e-mails once a week).
I just took a digital camera with me because I had to document in front of my Way of St. James in a video, which I then upload to in the German YouTube and wanted to rank at position 1 (for the search term “Way of St. James”). Three weeks after uploading the video, I was also in position 1 for the term and still maintained it (at least until mid-December 2018).
The pictures below show my arrival in Saint-Jean-Pied-De-Port the day before I started on the actual Way of St. James. On picture 4, my pilgrim friends can be seen, whom I got to know on the journey and with whom I spent a lot of time on the Camino.
The crossing of the Pyrenees
On the morning of the first day we went steeply uphill. One of the most difficult sections of the Camino Frances (that’s the name of this Way of St. James - there are several in Europe), should push me to the limits of my physical strength on the first day. The weather was perfect, I met my pilgrim friends from the previous day and many other interesting people from different countries and had an eventful first day of pilgrimage (pictures 1-9).
The remaining pictures show impressions from the following days, on the way to Pamplona, the Spanish city that is known for its bullfights.
In good company, time flies by
When you’re out walking all day, meeting new people, time goes by fast. Once the body has got used to the effort and you have found your own rhythm, the constant running is not so exhausting. So I tried to push more and more after about a week and ran on my best days between 40 and 45 KM. Occasionally, we also visited some churches and cathedrals for lunch and dinner wine and beer were traditionally drunk. This lifted the mood when hiking and weighed one evening gently to sleep.
The end often comes faster than you think
While in the first two weeks, the thought still dominated: “I hope I can make it to Santiago”, it was from the second half rather “Incredible how fast time passes - soon it’s all over again - somehow a pity”.
The further we came to Santiago, the more signs with kilometers crossed our way. Whenever one saw such a sign saying “X kilometers to Santiago”, we were regularly surprised by the distance already covered. Did we actually run 700 kilometers in the last weeks? On foot?! Strange but true. Now it is only 100 kilometers left in front of us. Very easy!
From Santiago to the end of the world
When we arrived in Santiago after 28 days, we wanted to pick up our pilgrimage documents, but this was postponed to the next day due to the high demand in the Pilgrim Office. The same day we took the bus to Finistère, which was once thought to be the end of the world. There, we celebrated our successfully completed Camino with a lot of wine on the beach. The next day we went back to Santiago, where we were able to receive our pilgrimage documents after 2 hours of waiting.
Running the Way of St. James was for me one of the most important experiences of my life so far and I am very happy to have taken this 4-week break. Incidentally, it lives very well without a mobile phone and without the Internet and I had no withdrawal symptoms. However, after 4 weeks of hiking, I was really happy to be able to do my work in front of the computer and my usual routines.