Eucalyptus — a (un)welcome smell on the Camino?

Eucalyptus is one of the smells I associate with the Camino, particularly stretches of the Camino del Norte/Primativo, and while I enjoy the sweetness that fills the air as its thimble-like seed capsules crunch underfoot in the early morning, I can’t help but wish it wasn’t there. Perhaps that’s because one interloper rarely likes another?Continue reading “Eucalyptus — a (un)welcome smell on the Camino?”

So the donkey stuff again…

So I was asked to clarify about the donkey stuff in my first blog post (‘The oldest guide to the Camino’) — specifically about how it’s done!  I mean, really?  That’s what you want to know?  Well, in lieu of finding and posting a video to something that would probably get me fired should myContinue reading “So the donkey stuff again…”

And they say that he got crazy once and that he tried to touch the sun…

One of the most beautiful sights on the Camino is the sky above.  I recall lying in a field one night in August 2016 along with my friend Jay and a group of five or six other companions outside Carrión de los Condes, watching the annual Perseid meteor shower over the Meseta — the inspirationContinue reading “And they say that he got crazy once and that he tried to touch the sun…”

A recipe for pleasure: Tarta de Santiago (Santiago’s Cake)

Tarta de Santiago (or Torta de Santiago in Galego, the language of Galicia) is one of my favourite deserts and is a wonderful expression of what is best in Spanish cooking — good ingredients used simply but effectively.  Essentially, it’s a flat cake of almonds, eggs and sugar, in roughly equal measure, which mightn’t soundContinue reading “A recipe for pleasure: Tarta de Santiago (Santiago’s Cake)”

The wine of La Rioja

La Rioja is the smallest of Spain’s autonomous regions and is synonymous with quality wine in the way that Bordeaux is in France or Napa Valley in the US.  Indeed, it’s sometimes known as the Bordeaux of Spain, not least because French winemaking techniques were introduced to it in the later nineteenth century, which reallyContinue reading “The wine of La Rioja”

The botafumeiro: the oldest swinger in town

Apologies for the bad pun in the title, but one of the most impressive of all sights for pilgrims who reach Santiago de Compostela is the swinging of the botafumeiro — the great incense burner that hangs from the ceiling of the cathedral.  The botafumeiro (‘smoke expeller’) is essentially a version of the thurible (hand-swungContinue reading “The botafumeiro: the oldest swinger in town”

Yellow arrows and the Shell symbol

The yellow arrows and the scallop shell vie with each other for the honour of most recognisable symbol of the Camino and I think every perigrino’s heart has lightened on seeing them on those rare occasions when we’ve gone off the beaten track.  While the shell has a long association with the Camino, the yellowContinue reading “Yellow arrows and the Shell symbol”

The oldest guide to the Camino

Keeping donkeys for oral sex does not seem like the kind of thing you would normally associate with a travel guide, especially one dedicated to a pilgrimage, but sure enough there it is in the oldest guide book to the Camino, the twelfth-century Pilgrim’s Guide in the Codex Calixtinus: In some places, like Vizcaya andContinue reading “The oldest guide to the Camino