St. James – we are coming!

Drove 3.500 km by car along three important Ways of St. James and walked individual stretches of way … checked the quality of about 30 hotels and 10 restaurants … visited 5 cathedrals, numberless churches and chapels … discovered a number of wonderful power places … these catchwords describe the result of twice 10 days of preparation and planning for our spiritual journey 2016.

Many roads lead to Rome but probably even more to Santiago de Compostela! There is, for instance, the French-Spanish Way of St. James from the east, the British Way from the north, the Portuguese Way from the south, and the North Way from the northeast. We spent most of our time on the French-Spanish route, because it contains the most beautiful cultural sights.

It was not always easy to find the routes; especially the British Way of St. James, of which we were unable to get a description on site, was extremely difficult to find. Like detectives we looked for the sparse hints at the wayside, asked locals, all of whom spoke English, for the way with our scant knowledge of Spanish. Many of them did not even know that there is a British Way of St. James that actually only runs a few kilometres away from their front door.

But it was worth the effort! We were able to arrange a beautiful and very varied travel route that combines culture with spirituality and does not lack good food and comfortable hotels. Every day we are going to walk short, but sublime parts of the Way of St. James, most of the time on the French-Spanish Way and on the last day on the British Way, so that we get to the seashore. The culmination is going to be the visit we are going to pay to the cathedral in Santiago, the much longed-for destination of all the pilgrims on the Way of St. James.

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Plan A and Plan B

Since today Gerd and I are travelling on the Way of St. James for the second time within three weeks. This time is about giving the “final touch” to our SPIRITUAL JOURNEY 2016, which we plan for our fellow travellers all by ourselves. And for such a journey there always need to be a plan A and a plan B, especially when it comes to the hotels we have tested and chosen. Because what can you do if the desired hotels are closed in September 2016, if they are being renovated or maybe even do not accommodate tour parties? So that this does not happen, we always have alternative hotels and alternative routes in petto. You never know … 😉

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How the Way of St. James came by its name

I know that Tiago is the name of the son of the opera singer Anna Netrebko. However, what I did not know: Tiago is the Spanish name for James. Thus, Santiago or San Tiago means Saint James.

Who was this saint? This question is forced upon oneself if – as have we for some days – one is on one’s way on the Way of St. James through Northern Spain.

Allegedly, James was the son of Mary Salome, who accompanied Mary Magdalene through Southern Spain. If her son James accompanied them as well, we probably will never know. He is supposed to have been tortured to death in Jerusalem in 44 AD, but he could have travelled with his mother and the entourage of Mary Magdalene to Southwest Europe as well and finally been buried in Santiago de Compostela.

However, the official version says that his mortal remains were translated from the Holy Land to Santiago de Compostela by King Alfonso II. in order to give Spain a high-ranking pilgrimage site – next to Jerusalem and Rome. According to another legend, mysterious light phenomena of the stars showed the hermit Pelagio the way to a field, where he discovered the remains of the apostle James. To this miracle the town owes its euphonious name, because Santiago de Compostela means St. James of the field of stars.

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Flexibility is necessary

Paper doesn’t blush, but frequently reality is entirely different … This experience Gerd and I have to make again and again when we are planning a spiritual journey. We peruse guide books for weeks, plan great routes and then, when we are on site, the first challenges arise: sites and places that were described as being well worth visiting in the books turn out be not very attractive, hotels and restaurants fall short of our expectations, or we unexpectedly stumble on a great object of interest in the middle of our planned route which we do not want to ignore and would like to fit in in our itinerary someway.

Thus, hardly a day goes by in the course of our preparation trip where we do not have to replan. Nevertheless, we look forward to new impressions and experiences every morning and collapse into the hotel bed bone-weary but content in the evening.

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In the land of Saint James

Many of you surely know Paulo Coelho’s bestseller “The Pilgrimage”, in which he describes his impressive spiritual experiences on the Way of Saint James through Northern Spain. Certainly this worldwide bestseller helped the region awaking from its deep slumber. But still it seems as if this clime had not suffered from the flow of pilgrims and tourists, because it still appears to be very pristine and authentic.

Ever since I mentally accompanied Coelho on his peregrinations – in the meantime I have read some books of other authors who followed this pilgrims’ way – my interest in this area has awakened. Therefore, what could be more reasonable than planning and organising the spiritual journey after next in 2016 for like-minded people in the “land of Saint James”? No sooner said than done! As of today Gerd and I are touring the region around Santiago de Compostela and are exploring sites and places that seem to be “worthy” of a spiritual journey.

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So this is Santiago de Compostela

Well, the cathedral could have been as beautiful as in the pictures if it had not rained today and the towers of the church had not been covered in scaffolding and tarpaulins due to renovation work. If it were not for the word “if” … we all know that …

Thus, I ventured to adorn my blog with borrowed plumes and took some photos of picture postcards that are intended to show to you how beautiful Santiago de Compostela can be in sunshine (Due to copyright regulations let it be mentioned that the pictures come from www.trianglepostals.com).

In one place inside the cathedral we felt some very strong energies: behind the altar with the statue of St. James a small staircase goes up where one can stand behind it and touch it. Already at the bottom end of the stairway the energy was clearly palpable.

Our first preparatory journey for the spiritual journey 2016 draws to an end today, but a 7-day journey for 20-30 people cannot be organised in such a short time. Therefore, we will return here for a few days at the end of December in order to finish the fine-tuning of our planned journey on and around the Way of St. James. I hope you will join us again!

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