>  Camino De Santiago   >  Camino de Santiago One Year Anniversary

September 14 marked exactly one year since I took my first steps of the Camino de Santiago. It would be a 35-day and 500-mile walk across Northern Spain. I would encounter landscapes that made my breath catch, people from around the world, and plenty of cultural education in the rural villages and big cities I traipsed through. I didn’t plan on publishing anything this week, but with the timing, and the nostalgia I’m steeped in, it felt like a good time to speak. So, today I’m talking my One Year Anniversary of the Camino de Santiago. And y’all, I am in my FEELS.

A year ago today, I set off on an adventure eight years in the making, a trip that would become outlandishly important in my life—like I’d hoped it would. I’m talking about The Camino de Santiago, something you’ve heard plenty about if you’re a regular reader here. If you’re not and don’t know anything about it, the Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage through Spain that leads thousands of people every year to the remains of Saint James, supposedly housed in the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. There are several Camino routes, but by far the most popular is the Camino Frances, the French Way. I’m not a religious person, nor do you have to be to walk the Camino de Santiago. People walk for all kinds of reasons: Spiritual renewal, personal growth, to think on a big decision, to grieve, to meet people, or to be alone, to get out and walk, to challenge themselves.

Everyone has their own “Why” or “Reason” on the Camino de Santiago, and it’s a big point of conversation along The Way. I won’t get into too much detail about the walk, but if you’d like more background on the Camino de Santiago, or why I decided to walk it, you can check out this very first Camino post, announcing my big trip: Big Trip Announcement: Camino De Santiago 2022.


I don’t consider myself an especially nostalgic person—I don’t re-watch old movies or popular comfort tv series. I don’t re-read the same books over and over. I’m happy to take something in, and let it go once it’s over. But the Camino has had a different effect on me.

I’ve been thinking about the Camino a lot lately. Not just because of the changing weather and Instagram memories, but because of contact with old Camino friends, lovers, and acquaintances. Because of new pilgrims in my life, walking their own first Camino while I look on from the sidelines—beaming with pride and a sense of camaraderie. Because, well, the time is right.

I wanted, with this post, to take a quick trip down memory lane. To talk about the nostalgia of the one-year marker, the ways my thoughts about my Camino have changed with the benefit of hindsight, and how my Camino is living on today. Read on for more, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself buying a backpack and planning your own Camino!

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Why So Serious?


I think part of the reason this nostalgia has taken hold of me so fully, is because the anniversary isn’t ONE anniversary. The Camino was a whole experience, 35-days long—IF you don’t count the first “travel days”. There have been several anniversaries this week.

On September 11 I set off for my journey. I flew from Boston to London in a first-class treat to myself. This was the day I left home to start my big adventure!

September 12 was spent kicking it around London—my first ever visit to the city.

September 13, I flew from London’s Gatwick Airport to Biarritz France, then took a shared van to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, where the Camino Frances—the most popular of the Camino routes—typically starts. Saint Jean is a beautiful town, but it was a short stay.

September 14 was the official start to my Camino, the beginning of my long walk across Spain. It was up and out before sunrise with droves of other pilgrims.

I’ll never forget the anticipation, the excitement in the pre-dawn dark leaving Saint Jean. The stories that unfurled as chipper pilgrims with first day-of-school energy all made their way towards the Pyrenees. The vistas that stretched out, if only you had the sense to stop, turn around, and take them in. I did, thankfully. The first day on the Camino Frances is by far the hardest. Long and steep with record high winds the day that I started. It’s a sort of reckoning “We are actually doing this.” And it is also so rewarding.

Sept 11, 2022, leaving Boston for my big adventure

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the start of the Camino Frences, and a gorgeous little town.

From Day 1


It’s strange to say, but with the passage of time, it is clear to see: My Camino started before my walk did. Knowing now what I couldn’t know then, I’ve come to consider my flying day, my first day in Saint Jean, as Day 1 of my Camino. And the first day, “just” a travel day, would prove to be both important and predictive.

It was the day that everything was set into motion. While my pre-Camino anxieties surged, about sleeping in rooms with strangers and using my rusty Spanish and figuring out where to go once we landed, foundations were being laid. Invisible bricks in what would someday house my story in its entirety.

That day, I’d meet Steve and Maria, a Canadian couple, sitting in the gate area in Gatwick, before boarding our flight. I’d learn that they’d walked the Camino four times before, would see the shell and arrow tattoos on their forearms—homages, in ink, of the experience, similar to the tiny gold shell I’ve worn around my neck every day for a year.

They took me under their wings, in a way, in that gate area. I don’t know if I needed it, I’d traveled by myself plenty before. But something about their kind, easy demeanor, the simple tips they gave (set your alarms on vibrate) made me feel at ease. If these people keep coming back, there must be something in this worth coming back for.

They quickly became a source of #couplegoals for me, and I still regard their relationship, and the life they’re living, with hopeful admiration. Should I ever settle down for real, I hope it is with another wandering, walking, friend-making fool like myself. Like Steve and Maria.



I’d encounter, in that same gate area, the young man brooding into his book, long legs stretched far into the aisle, along with his bag, so that I had to step over them to get to an empty seat. He would have been attractive, I thought, if not for the lack of courtesy, or awareness.

One week later I’d see him again, in a small town where few pilgrims ever stop for a coffee, let alone to sleep for the night. That stitch of a memory from the airport would be so far gone, piled over with new Camino memories, that I wouldn’t even know it was the same brooding boy—Not in our first interaction in Torres del Rio, or the run-in at a museum in Burgos a week later, or even sat across from one another having dinner in Leon, talking about our lives on our first date.

We realized the serendipitous coincidence later that night. And once we did, I could see him clearly; the long legs, the open book, the lack of awareness. And then I’d see him every day for the rest of my time in Spain. I’d sip coffee with him and eat breakfast with him. I’d sit on his too young torso, in the evening, after dinner, and look into his face. I’d run my fingertips, with the pressure of a feather, through his black curls and down the sides of his cheeks, his ears. He would tell me he didn’t think anyone had ever studied his face so closely.

I would fall into a whirlwind of chocolate-sweet emotions, and I’d come to call him the most important thing in my Camino. My “Why”.

But enough about that.


When I landed in Biarritz, London and Gatwick behind me, I stopped at the ATM and then found a man holding a sign with the name of the transport company I’d hired. I took the one-hour ride to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in a shared van, where I met Ed, Gerry, and Paul—three men closer to my parents’ age than to mine. Though I longed to put my headphones in, admire the scenery passing by to a soundtrack of my choosing, I reluctantly participated in conversation. And surprise, surprise, an unlikely clique we became.

I refer to Ed in most of my Camino posts as “My Camino Bestie” because he was my closest friend on The Way. After 500 miles and all the dozens of people I’d meet, the conversations we’d have, the magical, serendipitous “Camino miracles” we’d experience together, it was these fellows, from the first day in Biarritz, that I would end up with in the end. My 3 Amigos text thread with Ed and Gerry was my most active, and our “Fab 4” group photo in Santiago de Compostela brought the whole damned experience full circle.

Look how far we’ve come, how much has changed, and how similar Day 1 and Day 35 look to one another.


It is incredible to see in hindsight: My very first day, before I took a single step in my 500-mile journey, the foundation was built. Without intention, without my wanting it, and yet, there it was.

It was fate decided. My Why—and who—materializing before me.

Day 1 friends <3

Wide roads and miles to go

A full circle moment, finishing in Santiago with the same friends I’d met on Day 1.

Then to Now


A lot happened over the 35 days walking the Camino Frances. Dry, dusty days in La Rioja and sopping, sloshing ones in Galicia. Sleeping in bunk beds, and mats on the floor, and then fancy hotel rooms and pensions. Losing items and finding them. Receiving kindness from strangers and being able, on happy occasion, to return the favor or pay it forward.

I finished my Camino last October, but the journey continued. To Finisterre and Muxia on the coast of Galicia, to Madrid and Barcelona and then London again, my second time. After I packed up my pack for the millionth and final time and headed home to Boston, rather than feeling like The End of the Camino, it felt more like a pause.

Visits with my best Camino souvenir took place in Boston, New York, The U.K. and Mexico. Texts between the 3 Amigos slowed but did not lapse completely. Steve and Maria extended an invite to stay a few nights with them in Mexico, since we’d all be there at the same time. An American named John, my last Camino friend made, on the last night in Finisterre, reached out in March before his trip to Medellin, Colombia—a place I know well, or did at one point. We discuss travel often, I’m thrilled to see him living his dreams.

On July 25, Saint James Day, the Camino group chats came alive and Instagram posts made my nostalgia flare. Not just my Camino besties, but the acquaintances I enjoyed talking to and seeing every day. People with whom I did not form deep friendships, but did feel sincere care for, who made The Way better. I love them, in a way. They filled in all the cracks and crevices of the big, beating arc of my Camino. If fate drew the plotline on Day 1, these characters brought color, vibrance, made my Camino three dimensional and infinitely more valuable than it could have been without them.

A lot of time has passed now. A year. My Camino has felt decidedly over for months. And yet, here we are. A reminder. A sick friend. A text out of nowhere in the group thread. A photo, one of the pilgrims is back at it, on another Camino route. Just when you think it’s over, you’re seeing shells in your dreams, and craving Spanish tortilla, and longing for wide, empty roads and the sometimes maddening feeling of being halfway through a 20-mile walk. It begs the question: Does the Camino ever really end?

A brand new pilgrim, happy to walk in the rain.

My best friend and biggest burden on the Camino.

Ain’t no party like a pilgrim party

How I’m Quenching my nostalgia..


1. Watching other people’s Caminos

Who’s Down With OPC? (Yah, You know me)


I’m watching others walk various routes of the Camino. Nothing lights nostalgia like living vicariously through other people. Some friends from my first Camino are walking a different Camino route from Le Puy, France to Saint Jean Pied-de Port. I’m excited for them, but there is someone else I’m REALLY excited for.

My best friend’s father is currently walking the Camino and I couldn’t be more proud. Not only because at 73 years old this is crazy inspiring, but also because he got the idea to walk the Camino by following along with my journey last year.

His daughter (my at-home Bestie) mentioned my positioning in a social media shoutout, when I was something like halfway across Spain. Her dad had questions and so he started following along, too. Like me, the first time I heard of this “Camino” thing years ago, sitting on a jumpseat of an aircraft, he, after hearing of this adventure was instantly sold. Within a week of first learning of the Camino, he’d researched routes and made an appointment with his doctor to get the OK to proceed. Shortly after this he started working on his family—his lovely wife and his daughter, my bestie. Green lights given, a plan was formed, and today he is something like halfway through the Camino Portugues. A different route, but the same spirit.

It feels full circle to read the daily text updates, to see the landscape stretch forward, the villages and ocean views, the ear-to-ear smiles in his photographs that tell a story of joy, even if he’s pretending to complain of being tired. He’s having a hell of a time. It’s plain as day to see. And having been his first Camino buddy—long before his walking began—I am taking pleasure in his ‘Way’ as if it were (just the tiniest bit) mine, too.

A Camino scene featured in 'The Way'

Finding big impact in tiny moments all along The Way

2. Camino Content

I never watched a movie or read a book about the Camino before or after walking it…until now.

A few weeks ago, I finally got around to watching Martin Sheen & Emilio Estevez’s The Way, a film that increased the fame of the Camino de Santiago, and which many pilgrims I met cited as their inspiration for walking the Camino.

I’ve started reading a book called Walking with Sam, a father-son Camino story that was gifted to me by the same friend’s dad who is currently walking his first Camino.

I’ve seen lots of recommendations for books about the Camino, but never felt like opening one. Before walking The Way, I thought reading someone else’s romanticized, edited experience would taint my expectations. Perhaps they’d be set too high and this thing I’d always wanted to do would leave me feeling disappointed. I didn’t have one specific reason for walking the Camino de Santiago and I didn’t know what I wanted to get out of it. My intention was to let the experience play out and to see what happened. To take it in and find “The why” along the way. Knowing too much in advance, I thought, might ruin this for me.

I didn’t study the stages, I didn’t look at other people’s photos, I didn’t know of the grueling reputation of La Meseta until I was on it and someone told me. (I didn’t find it to be bad, by the way.) I didn’t know about octopus being a delicacy in Galicia or about the fields of Navarre, or the festivals in Logroño, or the beauty of Astorga—actually, I didn’t know Astorga existed—until I saw it all for myself. I loved unraveling my Camino like a spool of thread, little by little each day. I loved not knowing what was next and finding out on my own.

After the Camino, it didn’t seem worthwhile to read or watch Camino stories. I had a boatload of my own, after all. Once the experience of the Camino was over, it felt pointless to hear how everyone else’s went. Maybe I thought my Camino was perfect and I didn’t want any dazzling stories messing with that perception. Maybe I was just over it after I was done.


For whatever reason, though, I’m finding myself in full-swing nostalgia mode. With exactly one year between me and the start of my Camino, I’m craving the people and familiar places along the path. I’m craving the supernatural tales of saints and martyrs and iron crosses, of stones picked up and left behind. I’m craving the sight of backpacks and the simplicity of a 2-outfit wardrobe. The time to think. The bubble. So, I’m watching and reading. And in spite of myself, I am relishing these other Camino stories. They’re making me feel just a bit closer to my own.


3. Making Plans

I’m also making plans to visit some of my old Camino friends. First up, a trip to the UK in October. Hopefully more meetups with more Camino buddies in the not-too-distant future.

This, of course, the most important and thrilling of all. And yet, there’s not much else to say.

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Friends made over 500 miles

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To anyone considering walking the Camino de Santiago, let this puddle of nostalgia say, loudly and forcefully, DO IT. Pick a route. Buy a plane ticket. Then get some shoes and go. If this Camino anniversary post left you with a little inkling and you want to know more, check out some of my other Camino posts here. I wrote along the way, and the posts, especially if read in order, give a good idea of the day-to-day details as well as the emotional journey. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to reach out in the comments or via Instagram DM. There is nothing I love talking about more than the Camino de Santiago.

To all of you who followed along with my journey and supported me along the way, thank you. And to those special friends made on The Way, I am so glad to have met you.


Buen Camino, forever and ever. <3 plane logo


  • Rae

    September 15, 2023

    Inspiring as always <3

  • Ed

    September 15, 2023

    Walking the Camino with you and our small Camino family has forever changed my outlook on life. It was a beautiful journey with wonderful people . Reading your blog brings back so many wonderful memories. Buen Camino Amigos. Buen Camino Bestie.


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