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Just about one year ago, and thanks to a sabbatical semester, I was able to spend one week on The Way of Saint James, the Camino de Santiago, in northern Spain.  This is an ancient pilgrimage route that ends in Santiago de Compostela, where the casket of Saint James lies under the altar of the cathedral.

Pilgrims have walked the Camino for over 1000 years now.  The French route, the most traveled way to Santiago, is well marked.  Pilgrims wielding walking sticks follow the yellow arrows pointing the way.  Stone way markers tell you the distance to Santiago.  Fellow pilgrims wish you “buen camino” as they pass.

The Camino for me was an opportunity to breathe.  Deep gulps of breath.  Internet was only available at the beginning and ending of the day.  Without the electronic leash, my friend Sharon and I instead were able to talk.

This past weekend, I returned to the Camino, my Camino.  The walking sticks came out, and I removed myself from the stresses and worries of everyday life.  I took the time to enjoy the spectacular autumn weather, and the brilliant blue sky.

It wasn’t as good as talking with Sharon, and then ending our day with some great Galician bread, Albariño wine and some occasional octopus.

But it got the job done.


About Claire Ziamandanis

Claire Ziamandanis is Professor of Spanish at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. Over her 20 years at the college, she has been a champion for study abroad, establishing the first affiliation for Spanish students, and then working with the Study Abroad office to open the doors to students from other majors. Claire loves travel, food, wine and Spanish but not necessarily in that order!


  1. Since we last met you’ve put the bug in me and I’ve been immersed in books and web sites about El Camino. Really looks like a strong possibility for me going that way!

  2. You could, but I watched it very soon after you mentioned it to me…I’m feeling as though I want to do the whole traditional Camino, starting out at St.Jean Pied-de-Port. Maybe a bit ambitious, but surely, what an adventure!

  3. I WILL walk the Camino. It’s not a matter of if, but when. I will carry my brother with me every step of the way because I know he too would have enjoyed the adventure.

    • Claire Ziamandanis

      Yes, he would have loved it, as you will too. Sharon and I are looking at the Camino Portugués, hopefully in May. We would start around the border with Spain, or if I can convince her to be away longer, maybe Porto, Portugal, and then have 10 days on the Camino.

  4. We are on “the way” !

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