Today I’m delighted to welcome Jane Blanchard to my place for coffee and a visit. You’re going to love hearing about her travels and the books she’s written about them. We’re blog hopping. Stop in over at her blog http://janevblanchard.com/ where I’ll be talking about my journey to publication. Enjoy!
Jane V. Blanchard is the author of the Woman on Her Way series. Since her retirement in 2011, she has visited sixteen countries by foot and by bicycle, and written two books about her wanderings. Now 65 years old, she plans more backpacking trips and books.
The Camino de Santiago is a series of ancient routes that end in Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. Originally a catholic pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint James the Apostle, the Camino is now a Cultural European Itinerary and World Heritage Site. It has many English names, including The Way, The Way of the Stars, St Jame’s Way, St James Trail, and the Camino. Each year, several hundred thousand people complete the hike and receive the Compostela, or certificate of completion.
I walked in September and October in 2011. In mid-September, the Rioja and Navarra regions have wine harvest festivals. Las Fiestas de San Mateo in Logroño provides a jubilant atmosphere with dancing in the street, night-long celebrations, and plenty of La Rioja’s delicious vintages. You can see first-hand local traditions such as grape stomping, processions, a running of young bulls, and musical performances.
This time of year, you can munch on the wild blackberries—ripe and juicy—or wild grapes, apples and figs. I snacked on almonds that had fallen on the path, cracking the shells with stones. Yummy! If you know what you are doing, there are all sorts of edible mushrooms and plants along the Camino.
I specifically chose autumn to walk the Camino, not for the opportunity to live off the land, but because “The Way” is less crowded during these months and the temperatures are mild. Even though October can be rainy and mornings quite chilly, during that six-week span it only drizzled on me for twenty minutes.
I also recommend autumn for its beauty. The harvested fields on the Meseta (Spain’s high central plain) contrast with a sky the color of an Irishman’s blue eyes. I loved how the sunrises painted these ocher fields with pink hues which changed as the sun ascended. Even though the terrain is barren in autumn, life and color is abundant with flowers, butterflies, and vegetables gardens.
Santiago de Compostella is in Galicia, the mountain region in northwest Spain. In the Fall, when the leaves turn to golden hues, yellow-browns, russet reds, and deep greens, it is chestnut harvesting time. You can see local people raking the marrones and donkeys laden with baskets filled with the dark brown nuts. Since they can be cooked in the microwave or boiled, pilgrims take handfuls to the alburgue (hostel) to enjoy later in the day.
People walk the Camino throughout the year. I recommend you do it in autumn, when the weather is agreeable and nature provides readily available snacks and indescribable eye-candy.
Be sure and stop back in on Friday, November 6, for more about Jane’s travels!