The Long, Long Road to Santiago de Compostela

Notes from my 47 day, 500 mile pilgrimage across northern Spain to visit the tomb of Saint James, the Apostle. (September 15 - November 4, 2015)

When I chose to write a series of articles about my pilgrimage, I didn’t want to duplicate other accounts. A quick search on Amazon reveals more than 60 published biographies and memoirs. And there are countless blogs devoted to describing the experience. What’s more, these writings are often quite good. In view of this, I decided to tackle whatever caught my interest along the way: chance encounters with locals, stories of medieval publicity stunts, a visionary who foresaw what the Camino would become today, a Vatican prince who died as he lived — by the sword — and the literary inspiration that writers such as Hemingway, Coelho, Pardo Bazán, Quevedo, and Feijoó found along the way.

From “Finale: Lessons Learned on the Camino.”

When The Camino Calls
Silvio begins his journey along the Camino de Santiago, the famed pilgrimage route across northern Spain.

Photo: Manuel/Flickr

The Things I'll Carry on the Camino
Silvio provides a rundown of the things he’ll carry on his 500-mile trek along the famed Camino de Santiago in Spain.

Photo: Miguel Ángel García/Flickr

21st-Century Pilgrim
Silvio arrives in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the starting point of the Camino de Santiago, and learns about how the label “pilgrim” has changed in recent years.

Photo: Manuel/Flickr

From History to Legend to Literature
A journey along the Camino de Santiago that features what many consider to be the birthplace of Western European epic literature.

Photo: Manuel/Flickr

Ernest Hemingway and the Camino
How Spain and the Camino helped launched the career of one of America’s most celebrated writers.

Photo: Ernest Hemingway’s 1923 passport photo (Public Domain)

A Camino Encounter
“You are what?!” I asked, not sure I had heard Pedro Pablo Pérez García correctly. “I’m a Banderillero lidiador,” he repeated.

Photo: Pedro Pablo Pérez García, a banderillero lidiador from Extremadura

Stepping on History
With so much to take in along the Camino de Santiago, it’s easy to miss what’s right under our noses — and our feet.

Photo: Cesare Borgia, Italian warlord, nobleman, politician and cardinal during the Renaissance (Public Domain)

In the Shadow of El Cid
Continuing along the Camino de Santiago, Silvio encounters the legend of El Cid in Burgos and ponders his legacy in the midst of current Spanish politics.

Photo: Portrait of El Cid and his steed Babieca in a Burgos museum

Dungeons Along the Camino
Continuing his journey along the Camino de Santiago, Silvio encounters the tale of Francisco de Quevedo, one of the greatest poets of Spain’s Golden Age.

Photo: Portrait of Francisco de Quevedo by Juan van der Hamen

A Legendary (and Literary) Publicity Stunt
Silvio crosses Órbigo bridge in León, Spain, where in 1434 a local knight undertook a quixotic challenge.

Photo: The bridge of El Paso Honroso entering Hospital de Órbigo

The Camino's Most Enthusiastic Ambassador
Continuing along Spain’s Camino de Santiago, Silvio stops to reflect on how the journey changed the life of a modern-day literary giant.

Photo: nrkbeta/Flickr

Signs Along the Way
Continuing his journey along Spain’s Camino de Santiago, Silvio tells the story of Don Elías Valiñas Sampedro and the yellow signs.

Photo: Yellow signs near Pamplona, Navarra

A Light Born on the Camino
It was while studying at the monastery of San Xulián de Samos that an 18th-century monk discovered his life’s mission: to help rid Spain of its medieval frame of mind.

Photo: Monastery of San Xulián de Samos in Galicia, Spain

Shadows that Once Dwelled Along the Camino
Continuing his journey along Spain’s Camino de Santiago, Silvio profiles the life of Emilia Pardo Bazán, a lady of letters who introduced naturalism to Spanish literature.

Photo: Landscape of Rural Galicia

A Neverending Quest
“In our times, in this age of skepticism, the number of pilgrims who walk long distances to visit the apostle’s tomb is at its highest point ever.”

Photo: A monument to pilgrims looking toward Santiago de Compostela from Monte de Gozo

Finale: Lessons Learned on the Camino
Silvio reflects on his pilgrimage along Spain’s Camino de Santiago.

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