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Christmas 2016: some Camino-related gift ideas

We are now in Christmas season, and we at Caminofacil have decided to talk here about a couple of Camino-related books that were published during this year, and that might be good gift ideas for children (coincidentally, both of the books that we are going to review here are targeted towards them).

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The first of them, “Huellas secretas en el Camino”, belong to the “Los sin miedo” series, authored by José María Plaza. It’s a series of children books, telling the adventures of a group of four friends, in the tradition of series like Enid Blyton’s “The fabulous five”. In this occasion, our four protagonists walk the Camino de Santiago during their summer holidays, and (as usual in the genre) find themselves involved in all kinds of adventures related to secret keys, templar legends and even a possible treasure.

The author uses the characters’ route through the most famous places of the Camino (Roncesvalles, Pamplona, San Juan de Ortega…) to introduce them to us, as well as to recount some of their associated legends. The familiarity is no wonder: as the author explains in the Appendix, he walked the entire Camino twice looking for information before he started writing.

“Huellas secretas en el Camino” is published in spanish by Edebé, and is oriented towards 10-year and older readers.

Buy “LOS SIN MIEDO 11. Huellas secretas en el Camino”

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The other book we want to recommend here is “Peregrinar a Compostela en la Edad Media”, an illustrated album published by the Fundación Santa María la Real, written by the historian Jaime Nuño and illustrated by Chema Román. As the title says, the book explains the pilgrimage phenomenom during the Middle Ages in all its aspects: who the pilgrims were, how did they travel, the dangers of the roead, daily life in the albergues… The author also puts the Santiago pilgrimages in an historical context, devoting chapters to the role of religion in medieval society, the pilgrimages to Rome and even the Mecca ones in the islamic world. All of this, accompanied with excellent full-page illustrations.

It’s a very interesting, very throughfully put together book, and not only for children; in fact, even adult readers might learn something new about the Camino in it. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best divulgation works about the Camino that we have seen.

Buy “Peregrinar a Compostela en la Edad Media”

The Credencial. Walk the Camino and prove it.

Once we have taken the trouble to travel the long route to Santiago, it’s only logical wanting to prove that we have accomplished such a feat, and claim the document that demonstrates it: the Compostela. It will be useful also in order to claim a place in the albergues that still offer Christian hospitality. The established way to prove it is the Credencial, a document that we should use to collect the rubber stamps of albergues, bars, restaurants, churches, post offices… even banks or police stations; any rubber stamp is valid, provided it identifies a known place along the Camino.

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The new model of the Compostela, the pilgrimage certificate.

You must get your Credencial before you start the pilgrimage. You can get it in almost any catholic church nearby, or other places that you will easily find out once there: albergues, pilgrim’s offices, tourism offices… You can also get it through the Confraternities devoted to St. James, or through Associations of Friends of the Camino worldwide.

The official Credencial is printed on pasteboard and it’s accordion-folded in sixteen pages. The first page functions as a cover letter, and should be filled in the distributing place with the pilgrim’s data. There’s a space in the top to be filled with the delivering entity stamp; in the bottom is a space to be filled with the date and the Cathedral stamp once the pilgrimage is accomplished.

The second page contains instructions for the use of the Credencial:

Necessary considerations.

• This Credencial is for the sole use of pilgrims by foot, bicycle or horseback, who wish to make the pilgrimage with a Christian sense, if only in an attitude of spiritual quest. The Credencial has the goal of identifying the pilgrim; that’s why the institutions that represents the pilgrim shall be a parish, a catholic guild, a diocese, a Friends of the Camino association, or any other Christian institution related to the pilgrimage. This Credencial does not give the pilgrim any entitlement. It has two practical finalities: 1) to give access to the albergues that offer Christian hospitality on the Camino, 2) to serve as a pass certificate for requesting the Compostela in the Cathedral of Santiago, the certification of having accomplished the pilgrimage.

• The Compostela is granted only to those who have made the pilgrimage with a Christian sense: devotionis affectu, voti vel pietatis causa (motivated by devotion, vow or piety). Moreover, it’s only granted to those who make the pilgrimage to the Apostle’s tomb for the entire last 100 km by foot or on horseback, the last 200 km on bicycle, or 100 nautical miles and the rest by foot.

• The pilgrim’s Credencial, therefore, can only be issued by the Church through its own institutions (bishopric, parish, guild, etc.) or, in any case, through institutions authorized by the Church. The Compostela shall be granted only by the S.A.M.I. (Saint Apostolic Metropolitan Church) Cathedral of Santiago (as stated in the Seminars on Holy Year, november 1993)

• The albergues that lack any official subsidy should be supported, albeit in their austerity, with the collaboration of the pilgrims (cleaning, facilities maintenance, promote rest, economic help…)

• The organized pilgrimage groups with a support car or by bicycle are requested to search for an alternative lodge other than pilgrim’s shelters.

• The bearer of this Credencial accepts these terms.

The remaining pages contain boxes for putting the rubber stamps along the pilgrimage route. The stamps are usually obtained in the places where the pilgrims are housed, like the albergues, but also in parishes, monasteries, cathedrals, hostels, municipal chambers, and many other places.

Finally, the back of the Credencial shows a series of maps of the Ways to Santiago, and another page with a blessing taken from the Codex Calixtinus, written in the 12th century.

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The new Certificado de Distancia (Distance Certificate)

Different Credencial have been issued during years by different entities, always with the license or the Archdiocese of Santiago. More than 25 models of Credencial issued by Friends of the Camino association in Spain and other countries have been considered valid for decades and handed to the pilgrim for free or for a small fee or contribution. But this has, as it seems, come to an end. The Cathedral’s authorities have long wanted to unify the Credencial system, and the Cathedral’s Chapter took a definitive step on November 2015 through the following note:

“After a long dialogue with many of the entities that issue a Credencial, and at the request of several of them, it has been found necessary to address this matter, that is seriously harming the image of the Camino and the pilgrimage.

Currently, we receive more than 25 different models of Credencial, with prices from zero to twenty euros, in some cases. Attempts have been made to even sell them through the internet. The pastoral embracement, the careful attention and the gratuity must be the fundamental aims of our presence in the Camino and in the goal of pilgrimage.

The Cathedral of Santiago’s own registered Credencial must be considered the only valid, with a price for pilgrims that shouldn’t exceed 2 euros. The management of the Credencial must not be done with commercial or venal criteria; the profits that could result from it, necessarily limited for the current model, should always redund in a better service and attention to the pilgrims.

With the aim of avoiding harm to all those entities that are currently issuing Credencial, a moratorium will be granted so that it will be possible to use them until April 1, 2016. From that date on, only the official Credencial issued by the Pilgrim’s Welcome Office will be admitted to grant the Compostela.”

So, be warned: starting from April 1, 2016, the only accepted model of Credencial to claim the Compostela from  will be the one issued by the Cathedral of Santiago itself.

The Camino Portugués

As we announced a few months ago, Caminofácil has started providing services in the Camino Portugués through our friends at TransferTaxi, beginning in Porto. The stages we cover are:

  1. Porto – Vilarinho
  2. Vilarinho – Barcelos
  3. Barcelos – Ponte de Lima
  4. Ponte de Lima – Rubiaes
  5. Rubiaes – Valença do Minho
  6. Valença do Minho – Tui
  7. Tui – Porriño.
  8. Porriño – Redondela.
  9. Redondela – Pontevedra
  10. Pontevedra – Caldas de Reis.
  11. Caldas de Reis – Padrón.
  12. Padrón – Santiago de Compostela.

 

You can make your reservations now in our website.

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Picture via José Antonio Gil Martínez

The Camino Portugués.

After the Camino Francés, the portuguese way is currently the most popular one among pilgrims, and it has a long history behind it, stretching back to the discovery itself of the apostle’s tomb. By the XII century, when Portugal declared independence from the kingdom of Galicia, the route was already well established, and during the following centuries, important personalities like Santa Isabel (queen of Portugal) walked its roads to reach Santiago.

During the early years of XX century, with the appearance of the sanctuary in Fatima, the Camino experienced a dip in popularity, due to the “competition” from another pilgrimage site in Portugal, but in the last few years, it has benefitted from the renewed interest in the Caminos, as well as the work of associations and amateurs who have documented its history and marked the traditional routes. Today, the pilgrim can choose a variety of paths through Portugal (coastal, inland…) in order to reach Santiago and receive the “compostela”.

 

The Camino Portugues with Caminofacil and TransferTaxi.es

We are hard at work preparing the upcoming season of the Camino, and today we can announce that, as part of our services, next year we will be providing luggage transfer services in the Camino Portugues (Portuguese Way) through our friends at Transfertaxi.es.

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Transfertaxi.es is a cab service located in Pontevedra which provides 24 hours transports and covers the airports of Vigo, Santiago and Porto. Transfertaxi.es also offers day trips through Galicia, services for events and all kinds of transport and messaging services.

The Camino Portugués starts in Lisbon, and passes along the portuguese cost through Coimbra and Porto before entering Spain through Tui. Caminofacil and Transfertaxi.es offer our services in the following stages:

  1. Porto – Vilarinho
  2. Vilarinho – Barcelos
  3. Barcelos – Ponte de Lima
  4. Ponte de Lima – Rubiaes
  5. Rubiaes – Valença do Minho
  6. Valença do Minho – Tui
  7. Tui – Porriño.
  8. Porriño – Redondela.
  9. Redondela – Pontevedra
  10. Pontevedra – Caldas de Reis.
  11. Caldas de Reis – Padrón.
  12. Padrón – Santiago de Compostela.

 

If you are going to walk the Camino Portugués and need your backpack carried for you, call us! We will be delighted to help you.

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Photo via Michael Rinkevich

The Camino… by sea

When talking about the Camino de Santiago, one usually thinks of backpacks, walking staffs and pilgrims striding through fields and towns. However, it’s more than likely that some pilgrims in centuries past took that voyage through the sea… or at least, that is the excuse that four irish adventurers used when starting a similar adventure in a naomhóg (irish traditional boat).

Dómhnall Mac Síthigh and his three colleagues began this adventure two years ago starting from their residence in Kerry, in southwestern Ireland. Rowing and sailing, they followed the irish coast up to Wales and Cornwall, and then crossed the Channel to Brittany (France); from there, it was just a “simple” matter of following then the european coast until Santiago.

This year, after two summers spent at sea, they finished their odyssey at the Basque Country, and next year they expect to start again their trip for the third year in a row, for the final stage along Spain’s northern coast.

UNESCO adds Camino del Norte to World Heritage List

UNESCO‘s  World Heritage Committee approved yesterday an extension of the Route of Santiago de Compostela, in order to cover the “Camino Francés” and the Routes of Northern Spain.

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The Camino on the Gipuzkoa coast. (C) Gouvernement du Pays Basque

The Camino, as such, had already been added to the World Heritage list en 1993; this decision extends the definition of the “Camino” to cover the following routes: coastal, interior of the Basque Country–La Rioja, Liébana and primitive routes.

Here is UNESCO’s press release.