The older I get, the more I love going on walks. Long walks. And the most enticing long walk of them all has got to be the legendary Camino de Santiago, the way of pilgrims (religious and otherwise) seeking to visit the remains of Saint James since 812 AD! While I’m waiting for an appropriately significant occasion to make this epic journey (a certain someone’s 50th birthday in the summer of 2020?) a little taste will have to do. And it just so happens that the Camino runs right through Pamplona! You can watch for the yellow signs that point the way through the picturesque streets, you can check out the maps with the orange lines, you can keep an eye peeled for blue and yellow markers affixed to buildings, or stare at the ground and follow the silver circles inset into paving stones, all stamped with a slightly abstracted scallop shell that is the symbol of the Camino and holds multiple meanings related to Saint James, the spirituality/physicality of the journey, and the pilgrims themselves: “Wearing a shell denotes that one is a traveler on the Camino de Santiago. Most pilgrims receive a shell at the beginning of their journey and either attach it to them by sewing it onto their clothes or wearing it around their neck or by simply keeping it in their backpack. The scallop shell also served practical purposes for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. The shell was the right size for gathering water to drink or for eating out of as a makeshift bowl.”
Today we are shell-less and our little pilgrimage leads us only to the Museo de Universidad de Navarre where we check out the magical photographs of José Ortiz Eschagüe (who in addition to being one of Spain’s most popular photographers was also an entrepreneur, a military engineer, a pilot, and the “Gentleman Of The Bedchamber” for the King Alfonso XIII!) and the eye-popping art of graphic designer Oscar Mariné, and share the most divine ham and cheese sandwich we’ve ever tasted. Even the shortest journeys hold surprises with every step.