Great fun on a new/old project – the Camino De Santiago

You may have noticed that has been quiet the last several months. There’s a good reason — I’ve been immersed in a time-consuming pilgrim project, a new guidebook on the Camino Francés route of the Camino de Santiago.

Wait, another guidebook on the Camino, you ask? In reality this is not a new guidebook, I should say. One of the first guidebooks on the Camino was authored by the esteemed Alison Raju and published by Cicerone Press many years ago. What I’m doing is renewing and re-invisioning Alison’s work in a new format and for a new day by the same publisher. I was approached in Jan 2018 by Joe Williams and Jonathan Williams of Cicerone who recognized it was past time for a refresher on Alison’s work. They wanted the project to look and feel different than other camino guidebooks and proposed this formula:

  • Excellent, well-researched text;
  • Fabulous photography;
  • Coverage of Saint-Jean to Santiago and also Finisterre/Muxía;
  • Outstanding maps in an accompanying map booklet; and
  • An excellent smartphone app that coordinated with the print set but could be used on its own.

Tower of the Irache Monastery outside Estella, Spain

In short, they wanted to put together the best guidebook/map/app set on the market today. How could I say “no” to a goal like that?

I began researching the route — which I’d already walked twice — looking for the best print materials to form the historical core of the project. I read important documents like the Codex Calixtinus, the original guidebook from 900 years ago, and local histories of Galicia. I read art history books and Spanish history texts. Then I planned my trip.

Theresa and I took off for a five week walking camino last July/August and just had an absolute blast together. She’s such a great walker and explorer and so much fun to be with 24/7. Including 2014’s Way of St Francis project, this was her second time walking with me while I was researching, writing, snapping photos and recording GPS tracks. We walked the entire route from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Finisterre and Muxía, biking the Meseta to save time.

The Church of Nuestra Señora de la Barca, Muxía, Spain.

After the walk the work began. I sat down with notes, tracks and photos and began the work of putting them all together into an excellent guidebook. Cicerone knew I’d need help, so they stepped forward to purchase great photos from Seattle friend Rod Hoekstra, provided seasoned help for optional camino paths from Cicerone author Mike Wells, and then brought onboard my sister-collaborator, Roxanne Brown Nieblas, to put together the accommodations database that is the heart of any great camino guidebook. Jonathan Williams himself walked parts of the path and sent in his photos, too. Last January I traveled to the UK to meet the Cicerone team and compare our notes and expectations. Finally at the end of last month, after many weeks of every-spare-non-work-minute devoted to the project, I pressed “Send” and entrusted the manuscript and materials to Cicerone for creation of what I know will be a beautiful, elegant and extremely helpful new guidebook.

As their work of editing and producing the book begins my work takes a new turn. This summer I’ll return to Spain and bike the Way, draft guidebook in hand, and check out every detail for accuracy and clarity. At the same time I’ll enter information into the database that forms the core of the smartphone app that’s part of the package. I believe what purchasers will get, once it’s all done in January 2020, is a state-of-the-art guidebook that offers more and better information than anything else out there. Through it all I came to a renewed appreciation for the Camino Francés which is unlike anything else out there and really is a must for any walking pilgrim. I hope readers will see my love of this amazing walk through each page.

Recent pilgrims are happy to see that the Cathedral de Santiago’s façade is restored to its original lustre.

I’d never taken the extra time to see this pilgrim statue until this year. There’s Theresa!

No better place to stay in Burgos than Mesón del Cid hotel. Here’s the view at night.

View from the overlook at Grañon, one of my favorite pics.

Some pilgrims wander into a wedding scene. Taken from another great pilgrim hotel – the Parador in Santo Domingo de la Calzada.

This little valley is one of the most-photographed landscapes on the Camino.

Theresa leading the way in La Rioja on our way to Viana and Logroño.

That’s Theresa, standing in awe in front of the retablo of the Navarette church.

The herald blows a trumpet to the world to let them know how glorious is his town, Pamplona.

7 thoughts on “Great fun on a new/old project – the Camino De Santiago

  1. Your Way of St. Francis guide was quite helpful to my wife Sue and me just a year ago. I imagine your Camino Francés book will be equally excellent. As a fellow author, I have some idea how much work goes into publishing. Best wishes on the new book, Sandy, and many thanks again for your help with our Italian pilgrimage!

  2. Congratulations, Sandy. Sounds like a much needed and worthwhile project. Great that you and Theresa were able to do it together.

  3. Dear Sandy. Judging by the sample of photos you have added to your post I harbour no doubt whatsoever that your current project on the Camino frances will be a big success.


  4. I am proud of you. Did you still have your head shaved during this project? All that sunshine on a shaved head can do magic. Trust me. Namastè…

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