Best Camino Christmas Gift Ever: 3 Reasons Why

Camino-Christmas-TreeLooking for the perfect Christmas gift for your Camino pilgrim? Whether your pilgrim has already walked the Camino de Santiago through northern Spain or is planning on doing so, this book makes for the perfect holiday present. Spiritual & Walking Guide: Leon to Santiago is a daily devotional for pilgrims trekking along the ancient way.

Three Reasons Why this Camino book is the Best Camino Christmas Gift Ever:

The gift of this book expresses your thoughtfulness of acknowledging and honoring their Camino adventure. The daily guide includes short stories found along the way and scripture verses that go along with them.

  1. Affordable. The book is available for your budget, whether it be the paperback version or the even more reasonably priced e-version made for Kindle or other electronic devices on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other book sellers throughout the world.
  2. Gift wrap? No problem, order the paperback book at Amazon and select the gift wrap option, and your Camino gift will be sent already wrapped in festive paper and ribbon to surprise your pilgrim friend or relative. No muss, no fuss.
  3. The Reason for the Season. Giving a book chock full of Christian scriptures included because they are metaphors for our walk with Christ reminds us of the Reason for the Season: the entry of Jesus Christ into our world. The best gift ever.

“Day by day, step by step the author takes us on the coveted journey that millions of people have walked, ridden donkeys and horses, or been carried to this most famous Christian pilgrimage site after Jerusalem and Rome. The time you take to reach the goal is up to you. Stacey Wittig just makes the process a whole lot easier with practical lodging suggestions, packing tips and walking times as well as some spiritual advice and meditations. This book is a complete “how to” guide taking you from your front door to your final step.” –Linda Kissam, Goodreads Review

Why wait? Order the book now at Amazon.

Stacey Wittig is an author based near Flagstaff, Arizona. She wrote Spiritual & Walking Guide: Leon to Santiago after hiking the Camino in 2005. She has since returned three additional times and plans to walk a section in France in 2016.

Advertisements

American Pilgrims on Camino adds ‘Spiritual and Walking Guide’ to Book List

The latest addition to the American Pilgrims on the Camino book list is Stacey Wittig’s Spiritual and Walking Guide: León to Santiago. American Pilgrims on Camino (APOC), a non-profit organization, provides information to pilgrims that includes links to online resources, book lists, CD and music lists and Camino essays. The APOC Camino reading list includes a wealth of books for pilgrims interested in walking El Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage route in northern Spain.APOC-Camino-reading-list-Wittig

The mission of American Pilgrims on the Camino is to foster the enduring tradition of the Camino by supporting its infrastructure, by gathering pilgrims together, and by providing information and encouragement to past and future pilgrims. Their high-traffic website states:

The modern literature on the Camino and on pilgrimage encompasses not only many walker’s guides, but also cultural handbooks on art and architecture, personal narratives and reflections, novels and more.

The easy-to-use Camino book list is divided into the following categories:

  • Guide Books (in English)
  • Guide Books (Other than English)
  • Personal Accounts and Reflections
  • Fiction
  • Culture and History
  • Other Printed Material

Listed in the “Guide Books (In English)” category, Spiritual and Walking Guide: León to Santiago is included with other well-known Camino books such as John Brierley’s Pilgrim’s guides and maps to the Camino de Santiago and the Camino portugués, and Bethan Davies’ and Ben Cole’s Walking the Camino de Santiago.

“When I first walked El Camino in 2005, I used Bethan Davies’ guide,” explained Camino author Stacey Wittig. “So I am intimately familiar with her work. Back then, I originally looked for a route guide that also included Bible scriptures and daily devotionals. I didn’t want to carry a heavy Bible, a daily devotional and a route guide. I hoped that such a book would also include space to journal my own thoughts. Since I couldn’t find that sort of thing, I felt inspired to compile a guide that would lead readers spiritually as well as physically through the landscape. This inspirational Camino guide includes scriptures for The Way of St. James. It has been described as ‘The Way devotional.’

“I am very honored that American Pilgrims on the Camino includes my book on their Camino reading list,” continued the writing pilgrim. The Camino devotional is now listed on the reading lists of three of the world’s top Camino de Santiago websites.APOC-Camino-Book-List-Wittig

The APOC listing describes the book:

Author Stacey Wittig has written a spiritual guide for walking from León, Spain, to Santiago. What about pilgrimage helps you let go of fears and find peace that passes understanding? How can you be still and hear God’s voice as you trek the ancient pilgrimage route? How will you prepare your heart for a closer walk with God on the Camino? Find answers to these and other questions in this daily devotional and walking guide. Included in this book are daily scripture readings, meditations and questions for reflection to make the most of your pilgrimage and on the more practical side, details about where to sleep, daily distances walked and essential websites, insider travel tips, how to obtain a credential, how to follow the route without maps. The book contains space to journal thoughts and revelations.

Order Spiritual and Walking Guide: León to Santiago now on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Slo6Rq

 

Confraternity of St James adds ‘Spiritual and Walking Guide’ to CSJ book list

CSJ-Stacey-Wittig-Camino-SpiritualityThe Confraternity of St James recently added Spiritual and Walking Guide: Leon to Santiago on El Camino to their prestigious Camino Library and book list. The Confraternity of St James is a British association founded “to bring together those interested in the medieval pilgrim routes through Spain and France to the shrine of St James at Santiago de Compostela, and in the associated rich heritage of art, architecture, history, music and faith.”

The high-traffic website that can be found at www.csj.org.uk delivers:

  • Advice for planning your pilgrimage,
  • Information about routes to Santiago,
  • Camino news, and a
  • Bibliography of important Camino books.

Writer Stacey Wittig’s name is listed with other favorite Camino authors including John Brierley,  A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago: St. Jean • Roncesvalles • Santiago (Camino Guides) (Paperback) – Common and Rebekah Scott, The Moorish Whore in the Camino association’s library.

The Camino reading list and library may be viewed at http://www.csj.org.uk/libcat/index.php?action=find_keyword&cur_page=0&find=SPIRITUALITY

The CSJ has an office, bookshop and library, which includes a hard copy of Wittig’s book, in central London close to Blackfriars Bridge, open to the public at various set times or by appointment.

Wittig is currently working on a second book entitled Spiritual and Walking Guide: Lourdes to St Jean Pied de Port. She  that book from her home near the Grand Canyon.

Click to order on Amazon:
Brierley, JohnA Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago: St. Jean • Roncesvalles • Santiago (Camino Guides) (Paperback) – Common

Rebekah, Scott The Moorish Whore

Wittig, StaceySpiritual and Walking Guide: Leon to Santiago on El Camino (Spiritual and Walking Guides) (Volume 1)

 

Special Chicago Screening: ‘Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago’

Camino-film-announcementChicago-area friends,
Don’t miss this opportunity to view the film “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago” on Wed Sept 2, 2015 7-9pm. Meet documentary “star” and co-producer Annie O’Neil. This is one of my fave Camino films. Learn about her next film project and share Camino stories over wine after the show… wish I could be there!

Lourdes Pilgrimage: Lourdes to Santiago Camino

I arrived in Lourdes, France, trusting that there would be “room at the inn.” The albergue that catered to people walking Les Chemins de St Jacques (The Way of St James) had not returned any of my email requests for a bed. The week before, the Lourdes Tourist Office assured me that the proprietor was out of town and would respond once he returned. So I walked by faith, trusting that even if no beds were available at Accueil Jacquaire “La Ruche” when I showed up, that there would be space somewhere in the mountain town of 15,000 for a pilgrim to lay her head. Hey, even Baby Jesus found a manger to sleep in as his family journeyed to Bethlehem.20150430_204311

Lourdes is known as a center for prayer and healing for the Catholic Church. Six million people travel to the town in the picturesque Gave de Pau River Valley every year in hopes of healing for themselves, friends or family members. In 1858, teenager Bernadette Soubirous saw the Virgin Mary in a muddy grotto not far from the river. The Virgin appeared to the peasant girl eighteen times, and during one of the appearances, the Virgin told Bernadette to drink the water. But there was no source of water in the grotto. Bernadette felt compelled to dig in the mud with her hands, and soon she unearthed a spring. Bernadette drank from the spring and prayed. Later, others were miraculously healed after drinking the water. Today that small spring is the water source for the bath houses where believers are submerged in the healing waters and for the fountains from which devotees drink thousands of gallons of water.

Because the town is now one of the world’s most important pilgrimage sites, I thought it would be a perfect place to start my +500-mile walk from France to Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. The classic route, called Camino Frances, begins in St Jean Pied de Port, France, at the eastern foot of the Pyrénées Mountains near the border of France and Spain and continues across northern Spain to Santiago. Lourdes is only 93 walking miles southeast of St Jean Pied de Port, and I could walk forest trails and farm roads that meander along the foothills of the Pyrénées. (Lourdes to SJPP is 93 miles/149 km.)

Since foot traffic on Camino Frances has increased so much in the ten years since I did my first pilgrimage, I desired to start on a road less traveled. The route from Lourdes to St Jean Pied de Port seemed to fit the bill. Fewer people and more rustic accommodations might better mimic my first Camino experience.

However, because the Lourdes Camino route is typically traveled by regional hikers, the only guidebooks that I could find were in French. Even on-line, route-following instructions were in French. Google Translate and other free translation services didn’t seem to get the detailed, cryptic instructions right. “Cut a road and continue straight. After a closed, follow the path paved route and continue the length to the edge of the Louts.” Hmmm… Yet I had printed the cryptic instructions and bound them with pages of maps from the French guidebook, La Voie des Piemonts un Chemin de Serenite by François Lepère and Yvette Terrien.

I reviewed my loose leaf notebook on the Air France flight from Paris to Tarbes-Lourdes airport, still hopeful that I would find a place to sleep that night. Since the Lourdes Tourist Office boasted more hotel rooms than any other city in France, besides Paris, I figured my chances were on par with Baby Jesus – the Lord would provide. I sent up a silent prayer, “Let this go smoothly, Lord.”

I shared a cab with two other visitors, and David, the friendly driver knew the way to Accueil Jacquaire “La Ruche”. I tapped lightly on the door, and when no one answered, I pushed it open. “Bon jour,” I called out. A young American woman came down the stairs.
“Hi, I’m Rachel. We’re making dinner upstairs. Do you want to stay for dinner?” Rachel offered.
“Oh, yes!” I answered. “Is there a bed for me?”
“We have plenty, put your backpack in here,” she said showing me to a room with two bunk beds. “You may choose the top or the bottom.”
“After dinner will there be time to go to the candlelight procession?” I asked. It was the desire of my heart to start my pilgrimage to Spain with the prayer vigil and processional that happens every night at 9:30. 20150430_212803Hundreds of people from all over the world come together for prayer, many wheeling their loved ones in wheelchairs or gurneys. I had seen it all on YouTube and wanted to experience it for myself.
“Yes, there will be plenty of time,” Rachel said. “We’ll all go down together, we 20150430_180127have several other pilgrims here tonight. Jean Luis and G.G. have the candles here. She pointed to a basket of tall candles with Lourdes-appropriate wind shades.

Accueil Jacquaire “La Ruche”

Stacey gets her shell from Hospitalero Jean Luis Doux, who cuts a yellow cord to tie it to her pack.

“Are you just starting your Camino?” When I nodded yes, my new friend responded, “Well, we’ll have to get you your shell tomorrow before you leave.” The scallop shell is a symbol of St. James and is worn my pilgrims to denote that they are on a pilgrimage to Santiago, where the bones of St. James rest.

It was my second lesson of my Lourdes to Santiago Camino: do not worry. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7. So if that was my second lesson, what was the first lesson of this Camino? Well, that’s another story…

Stacey Wittig is a travel writer who is currently working on her second book, Spiritual & Walking Guide: Lourdes to St Jean Pied de Port. Order her first book, Spiritual & Walking Guide: Leon to Santiago on Amazon.

Accueil Jacquaire “La Ruche” : 21 rue Pau, Lourdes | Tel: 05 62 97 98 21| jl.doux@club-internet.fr

Taxi David – VIP Excursions: Tel: 06 81 89 09 88

Camino Brings Together Uncommon Friendships

Author Stacey Wittig with Zuzana atop Alto del Perdón in SpainZuzana and I are the odd couple – she 27 years old and a beauty, me at 60 feeling like an old woman for maybe the first time I my life. We met while walking Les Chemins de St Jacques – the Camino de Santiago – near Lourdes, France. She calls me her guardian angel but to me, she is my caregiver. She gladly lets me use her phone recharger and patiently assists me when I can’t get it to work. As she makes dinner for the two of us, I sit and talk about Camino etiquette while she chops fresh vegetables.

“What is that word?” the native of Slovakia asks.
“It’s French for something like ‘how to behave’,” I offer.

I instruct her on blister care and she teaches me how to say blister in Spanish: ambule. Zuzana has been working in Spain for the past several years as an architect. Her command of the Spanish language is impeccable, but how would I know, I’m a bumbling student of the language?

Zuzana is a vegetarian and nutrition nut; I’m having withdrawals from Lay’s Potato Chips. She’s getting me hooked on Chia seeds, “Breakfast of Champions” for Aztec warriors, or so claims the label. According to the package, Aztec ancients could run for fourteen hours on one meal of Chia seeds.20150506_144423

When she asks me if I found her hiking pole tip, I pull it out of my pocket. You see, she walks the pilgrimage route very much ahead of me. And I find the things that she drops: a hiking pole tip and a pair of socks pinned together with a clothes pin.

I actually met Zuzana’s socks before I met her – or anyone else – on this remote pilgrimage route. There are few pilgrims walking from Lourdes to St Jean Pied de Port, which is why Zuzana would make dinner for just the two of us – there were no others in most of the albergues where we stay. I found her socks on the first day out of Lourdes. They were lying in a rain puddle in front of a big sign describing the abundant nature of the surrounding area. I could tell that the socks had been recently dropped, so I picked them up. I toted them until the next day when long-legged Soren, with whom I was trying to keep up, begged me for the third time to get rid of some weight from my 30-pound pack.

“Stacey, darling! You’ve carried all that long enough. It’s time you got rid of something! I don’t mean to lecture, or pontificate, but REALLY!” exclaimed Soren pontificating.
“Oh, no. Go ahead — I need to hear it,” I interrupted. It was my second day of walking and both the temperature and humidity were high. The sweat was pouring down my red face. I left the socks and a baseball hat at a bus stop in a small country village. It wasn’t much to leave behind, but it was a beginning. Eventually I would mail fourteen copies of my Camino book forward to Burgos, Spain. I carried the books so I could donate them, one at a time to albergues along the way. But since my book was a spiritual and walking guide for the last weeks of the walk, I really didn’t want to leave them until I got closer to the endpoint.

I met Zuzana the following day, and when she mentioned that she had lost her socks, I shot a “look” to Soren. Later Soren, who planned to cross the Pyrénées at Somport, turned west and bid us goodbye. Zuzanna and I continued our walk north-ish along the foothills of the Pyrénées. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Solo travel opens up possibilities for uncommon friendships. I would never guess that a young girl in the prime of her life would ever want to be friends with me, a sixty-year-old woman. Yet the Camino brings together people who have something special to share with each other.20150511_112900

_________________________________________

Stacey Wittig is a travel writer who is currently working on her second book, Spiritual & Walking Guide: Lourdes to St Jean Pied de Port. Order her first book, Spiritual & Walking Guide: Leon to Santiago on Amazon.

Ionut Preda: Inspiration on Camino de Santiago

Ionut Preda dripped a blood red drop of hot wax onto my pilgrim credential and then quickly pressed a metal sealer into the congealing liquid. His seal left the impression of two bare footprints on the passport-like credential that I carried with me during this 500-mile trek across northern Spain. This flimsy piece of folded paper proved that I was a pilgrim and allowed me overnight access to albergues or pilgrim accommodations. It was stamped and dated by albergue hosts to ensure that I didn’t sojourn too long in one town and overstay my pilgrim status. The credential was also proof that I had actually been to these places along the route so I could earn a Compostela from the Catholic Church at the endpoint, Santiago de Compostela, the resting place of the bones of St. James the Greater.Credential

“I love looking at my credential,” Robert from Holland had explained earlier. “I can tell you a story an hour long about each one of these stamps. It is such a good way to remember my journey.” And so pilgrims like Robert and me collected stamps or sellos from restaurants, churches and wayside attractions like the one we were at now. Sometimes you had to pay an entrance fee to get the imprint from a rubber stamp, like at the cathedral in Leon. Other times you needed to be a paying customer to receive a stamp as at the bar at Orison.

Yet at this humble wayside attraction, merely two banquet tables set end-to-end at the edge of the roadside, the extravagant wax stamp (the only I saw during my 36-day trek) was offered by donativo or freewill offering. From the table where Ionut Preda performed the stamping ritual hung several newspaper clippings.

“Yo quiero caminar” professed one newspaper headline over a full-color photo of a tired pilgrim in front of the Santiago Cathedral. “I want to walk.” Ionut Preda20150602_104309_400 standing behind the table pointed to the photo and said, “That’s me.”

I bent down to look closely at the newspaper clippings. “But this man has only one leg,” I said.

Ionut Preda stepped out from behind the table and raised his right leg, revealing a clunky prosthesis. “I walked Camino de Santiago with this,” he said. I suddenly felt ashamed that I had been feeling sorry for myself because my feet were sore. I soon learned that Ionut Preda was a very special man, a Paralympic athlete that worked with kids in his gymnasium that was located here, on the edge of the Camino de Santiago between Palas de Rei and Melide, Spain.

The athlete who lost his right foot after an accident with a mechanical crane at age eight has overcome his loss to win more than 100 national and international medals.

“My road was not easy,” the native of Timisoara, Romania said in Spanish on his20150602_104318_600 website. “…Over the years, I came to have a relationship with God, and every time the idea of helping child amputees who need prostheses, motivate them to do sport, to integrate into society, show that you can lead a normal life it grows within me.”

“Traveling, God gave me the opportunity to meet a great woman who today is my wife and Mr. Emanuel rewarded us with our son. They fill me with motivation and desire to leave a legacy, ‘If I can, you can too’.”

Ionut Preda and Stacey Wittig

Paralympic athlete Ionut Preda and author Stacey Wittig

On the second table, Ionut Preda sold athletic shirts sporting his logo and slogan “Mas de Camino” or “More than a Road.” My companions and I bought the brightly colored shirts and continued on our way no longer tired, but refreshed from having met the inspiring athlete.

Now when I look at my credential and see the imprint of two perfect bare feet, I think of the man with one foot who inspires children to be all they can be. Like Robert, I can look at that one stamp and tell a story that will last for an hour…or years.

Ionut Preda, Paralympic Athlete

www.elparalimpicoviajero.es

info@elparalimpicoviajero.es

(+34) 610 575 883

(+34) 629 688 471