The Camino de Santiago closed in March 2020 because of CoronaVirus, but the hopes and aspirations of the pilgrims and other travellers remain alive. So when will El Camino re-open?
For those walkers, pilgrims and other travellers hoping to travel this famous route some time soon, the general message coming out of Spain at the moment is: “Pilgrim – now is not the time . . The Camino can wait.”
When will LOCKDOWN end along El Camino in Spain?
Here at The Good Luck Gift Shop we are keeping a careful eye on what is happening in the news coming out of Santiago de Compostela. For example, at the time of writing this article, both the Cathedral and the Pilgrim Office remain closed.
The Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the Way of Santiago is asking that everyone interested in walking the Camino should take “Individual Responsibility” and continue to follow the recommendations of the health authorities and “Stay at Home” with respect to COVID-19 CoronaVirus. They have produced a little video of many people connected with the Camino repeating the mantra: “Me quedo en casa – I am staying at home”. Indeed, the message throughout Spain is “Quédate a casa” (stay at home!) Now is not the time to walk El Camino de Santiago (anyway it is “closed” and you would receive a fine if you attempted it (that is, assuming you could even get into the area which is, like the rest of the Spanish peninsular, in “lockdown”. All the hostels, hotels, albergues and other “shelters” have been closed on all roads to Santiago.
So, “dear Pilgrim,” as the Authorities in Galicia say, “please calm your longing for the Camino until everything returns to normal” It is better to travel safe than sorry.
BUT, people ask: When will that be?
When will El Camino re-open? When will flights resume to Spain?
If you want a realistic answer to this question, it looks like September at the earliest. “El Camino puede esperar” they say – but can you?
Well, for one thing, there is a lot to be said for walking El Camino in the Autumn or September:
– It is less crowded
– There are milder temperatures than in the popular months of July and August – although good weather is no longer assured
– There is more accommodation available
So, as they say in Spain: “Ultreya!” (the response is Suseia!) (Onward! > Go further!)
In the meantime, “en solidaridad con los caminantes” we have produced a good luck necklace with the Yellow Arrow marker symbol of Camino de Santiago . . which could be given as a little gift of support for a disappointed friend who had to cancel their trip on El Camino this year (or postpone). We sell it at cost price (only the postage needs be paid):
More information about the feasibility of the Camino de Santiago route will be posted here as it becomes available.
Ultreya! Et Suseia! Buen Camino! El Camino WILL open again
Meaningful Christmas gift ideas for friends going travelling
What do you get a traveller for Christmas?
Gifts for people who love to travel are not difficult to buy because presents related to travel and travel lovers are many. But not all travel gifts are equal: Find out why and see some unique travelling GIFTS FOR CHRISTMAS in our Good Luck Gift shop – especially gifts with a spiritual / religious or Christian significance:
Someone who is going abroad (on holiday, for example) needs a few practical things to help them on their way, and, if they are lacking something useful, you can always give them a little going away present: Another travel bag, a camera strap, luggage accessories, passport holders, travel adapter, etc. There are as many travel gift ideas as there are places to buy them (online shops and websites and stores are a good start).
But what about the less practical, more romantic or silly fun things, the little extras that will add to their experience? There’s the ubiquitous travel diary, the funny mug, the “been there, done that” T-shirt, and so on. Some items are for keeping at home to remind someone of their trip (a wanderlust map, a jigsaw, something personalised perhaps). Others can be taken on the journey itself – travel jewellery, for example.
There’s lots of travel jewellery in the shops (with little silver aeroplanes, compass pendant necklaces, bracelets with place names on, and dangly anchor earrings, for instance; as well as all those gifts to wish good luck travelling). No doubt this all means something to the recipient and there’s nothing wrong with that BUT what about something with perhaps a deeper significance, something more spiritual?
At Christmas time, buying a present with spiritual significance somehow seems more appropriate. And if the gift is kind of related to travel . . for a travel lover, so much the better.
See meaningful travel jewellery in our Good Luck Gift shop and especially Camino de Santiago JEWELLERY to WISH SAFETY ON A TRIP and items with a Christian relevance / emphasis.
Christmas: What to gift someone who is going abroad?
Another major point of interest for the traveller (or at least for their friends and loved-ones (especially parents) who remain at home) is travel safety. So, small travel gifts for Christmas that help with safety in foreign climes are always popular – whether from a practical viewpoint (eg: a water filter, an anti-theft purse, a portable charger to keep a mobile cellphone working, etc.), or something more intangible and ethereal like spiritual or religious jewellery . . jewellery that has a Christian meaning . . Christian Travel jewellery.
Plus, in our Good Luck Gift shop you can buy an item of jewellery that is truly unique . . it is both meaningful AND practical (from a travel safety point of view) . . our Travellers Safety Whistle. This is a neatly-designed whistle that can be hung around the neck as a necklace. It has the Travellers Cross, the Cross of St James engraved on the surface within the symbolic Scallop Shell symbol of El Camino de Santiago – The Way of Saint James).
Inspirational Christmas gifts for Catholics / Christians
This Travellers Cross Whistle would make a great gift for anyone going travelling and especially someone with Christian or Catholic religious beliefs: In addition to any value that the Camino / St James charm symbol has in itself, or the religious faith that it might represent, the Travellers Whistle can also be used in an emergency situation to try and summon help by blowing on the whistle.
As a piece of symbolic jewellery with meaning it can also act as a reminder to be careful when travelling, and this can be a powerful aid to staying safe whilst away from home. It would make a perfect Christmas present (or Secret Santa?) for a friend, colleague or loved-one who is going travelling in the future or indeed as a farewell gift to wish safekeeping for anyone travelling on a journey / trip (especially someone with Catholic or Christian beliefs . . as Christian Travel jewellery). Our Travel Safety Whistle is a great piece of truly meaningful jewellery combining both spiritual significance along with a means to impart wishes of good luck and safety in a practical way.
We have two designs of Travellers Whistle:
1) A dainty but reasonably loud steel whistle that resembles an item of jewellery, with a 925 sterling-silver bail, hanging on a silver chain
2) A more robust and extremely loud whistle (120db) that hangs on an adjustable cord
Both are discreetly engraved with the Travellers Cross symbol of St James (within the Scallop Shell symbol of El Camino de Santiago).
Help ensure your friend or loved-one has a safe trip: We heartily recommend this Travel safety whistle as a Christmas gift for Travellers.
CHRISTMAS GIFTS for TRAVELLERS
This Holiday Season, we have a special offer on both our Travellers Safety Whistles.
A meaningful Christmas gift for a Catholic traveller? Well, these Christmas gift ideas would suit anyone travelling – but especially those with Christian beliefs (whatever their denominantion) who are looking to pass on their wishes of safe travel at Christmas time to a friend or loved one.
Walking El Camino de Santiago in winter – and giving Camino gifts at Christmas
The gift of Christmas on the Camino? To many, Christmas and Camino are two separate entities: No one in their right mind would consider walking El Camino at Christmas, right? “Bueno” . . as they say in Spain, “nada es imposible”. No doubt, the most popular time of year to walk the Camino de Santiago is between Spring to Autumn. But winter walkers are on the up and increasingly we see people asking about walking El Camino at Christmas . . and even planning to arrive in Santiago de Compostela on Christmas Day (or Christmas Eve).
But Christmas also means gifts – for friends, family / loved-ones. And what better gift to give a fan of the Camino than a little present from Galicia, Santiago, Asturias . . or somewhere else along this famous route: Perhaps a little memento or souvenir relating to this epic journey / pilgrimage – or simply a “good luck and best wishes” type of present.
A winter trip on Spain’s Camino over the Christmas period can be an exhilarating experience . . especially if you plan to arrive in Santiago de Compostela on Christmas Eve (or Christmas Day). But there are things to consider that are different from planning a normal Camino trip:
The weather in winter on El Camino:
This is the most important factor: Weather in Northern Spain, particularly in Galicia, is uncertain even in summer! The dreaded rain which can dampen the spirits of even the most ardent Camino traveller is quite common in Galicia and Asturias.
Having said that, travelling in winter can have its advantages in this respect too: Some of the landscapes can be spectacular in their winter shroud: The Meseta in particular can make for a stunning and enthralling backdrop at any time of year, but in winter it can be dramatic and breathtaking.
The Meseta or Inner Plateau of Spain is the high plain of central Spain – it is large and expansive, flat and vast: It’s in the heart of the Iberian peninsular, and ranges from 610 to 760m in height and is surrounded by mountains. From the Camino point of view, the Meseta is always an “experience”. The Camino Frances traverses the northern part of the Meseta for over 200km, and in winter it can be windswept and cold, wet and miserable for walkers.
So this leads on to the next consideration:
The route – which Camino to choose (after all, there are several):
People considering travelling the famous Way of Saint James are aware of the different routes that make up the so-called “Camino”: They have to choose one to suit themselves, and through which parts of Spain, France and/or Portugal they want to walk, hike or bike into Santiago de Compostela. We have 7 or 8 main options: Camino Frances, Camino Portuguese, Camino del Norte, Camino Primitivo (the original or Primitive Way), Via de Plata (the Silver Way), Camino Finisterre-Muxía, Camino Inglés (the English Way), and Camino Invierno (the Winter Camino).
Courtesy CORREOS (see below)
But which is going to be most suitable Camino to do in winter?
The Via de la Plata route travels through the western part of the Meseta for around 180km. In winter, it can be snowy. Yes . . snow! In winter you will encounter snow on many of the Camino routes and/or stages of those routes. Perhaps a small amount of snow is acceptable, but there can be danger too after heavy snow falls or when it drifts in the wind. At the very least, you will need to avoid any mountainous areas like the Pyrenees or O Cebreiro. In fact, for this reason alone, many of the ‘etápas’ (sections or stages) of the various Caminos are actually CLOSED in the winter. In fact, a great many things along the Camino route are closed in winter.
So this leads to another factor to consider:
Accommodation along the Camino de Santiago in winter
Spain’s Post Office ( CORREOS ) has a great website to help travellers along El Camino – offering advice on accommodation, safety and their own services to help transport extra luggage and backpacks which can be especially helpful in the somewhat rougher winter months.
They say that when the number of pilgrims fall in the winter months (and especially around Christmas), many hostels on the Camino decide to close their doors. And, as ‘Navidad’ in Spain is celebrated through until Los Reyes Magos (The Kings) on 6th January, the Christmas inactivity can be extensive. This might be a problem for those winter pilgrims who, not planning ahead or without prior knowledge, are not prepared, especially considering that they will be facing the cold, rain and, at many times, snow. Luckily, Correos keeps an updated list of hostels that remain open during this period. Of course, however prepared you are, it is always recommended to contact the hostels first, to avoid any problems. You can find the telephone numbers of each hostel at each stage of every Camino on the CORREOS WEBSITE . There is little problem finding accommodation in the bigger towns like Santiago de Compostela, Ferrol or Vigo, but in the small rural and isolated areas, where accommodation is limited, yes, it can be tricky.
So this brings us to:
The sheer feasibility of doing the Camino in winter as regards personal fitness, carrying your stuff and avoiding the mud!
It can be lonely and at times bleak in northern Spain in winter: In Bierzo, for example, it can be very harsh. But in general, winter walkers are not out to punish themselves . . and so during this time of year it is acceptable to get help along the way. For example, CORREOS offer a service to transfer your luggage / rucksack day by day at all times of year. This costs around 4 Euros per stage.
This has not always been the case: In years gone by, devout pilgrims would set out to travel the Camino as a form of penance or atonement. Some were even sent to do just that, as punishment for their sins. But these days, there are other ways to lessen the burden of a winter Camino – like occasionally catching a bus!!! (past the really bad bits), or getting Correos to transport some of your luggage from place to place at the start of each day. In general, their services continue as usual, except that in some cases they are limited in terms of geographical coverage or hours open to the public. Once again, the website has details.
They also offer a locker service in Santiago de Compostela (the ideal location to leave your backpack before visiting because of its proximity to the Cathedral). This remains open from Monday to Friday with the same hours as the rest of the year. The only change to this service is that Saturdays it will be open from 9:30 to 13:00, while closing on Sundays and holidays.
So, in conclusion . .
Which Camino de Santiago route is best in Winter?
The general consensus is that travelling from Sarria into Santiago de Compostela would be a good option. It is about 100km into the capital. You could walk a few of the sections before Sarria but you would have to avoid the most mountainous area around O Cebreiro. This is part of the Winter Way (or Camino de Invierno) from Ponferrada which used to be used in centuries past by those seeking to escape the ‘real’ world. It is also part of the French Way. You will probably experience a very quiet trip at this time of year – but with amazing landscapes, especially as you enter Galicia through the winter vineyards of the Ribeira Sacra. Alternatively, you could start a bit further south at Monforte de Lemos.
Either way, at Christmas time, this will be a special experience and you will be able to spot many wonderful Nativity scenes or Beléns in the villages, hostels and bars that you encounter.
Finally, we come to OUR part in this whole story:
Camino Christmas gifts
At this time of year we start to see enquiries and orders for Christmas Camino gifts. Although we cannot offer gifts of a trip on the Camino (or even gift tokens), we can certainly offer great suggestions for Camino Christmas presents.
Every year we see what is popular, and we see some of the special messages people send to each other relating to their Caminos – or wishing them well on a future trip. Many people like to give Camino-related Christmas gifts to friends and loved-ones for a journey that they are planning in the forthcoming year: And the journey is not always related to El Camino de Santiago itself. We find people giving Camino gifts (particularly Camino Jewellery – Joyas del Camino) for loved-ones going on a Gap Year for example, a holiday trekking in the Far East, or even to someone going on a business trip. The fame of Spain’s Camino is worldwide and the related souvenirs have significance to travellers the world over . . especially to wish safe travels. In particular, jewellery that features the Cross of St James, la vieira concha Scallop Shell symbol, the Waymarker sign and the Tau Cross (all available in our shop online), are the most popular.
Clearly, no self-respecting Camino travellers (especially walkers and bikers) want to be burdened on their actual Camino de Santiago with anything large or heavy or difficult to carry, but we can offer small items (especially Camino jewellery like earrings, necklaces and bracelets) that are suitable. Failing that, we can also supply items that are meant as souvenirs or mementos of someone’s actual Camino trip / journey – a reminder perhaps of the journey they undertook. We also stock a range of other items that are suitable as Christmas presents for someone who is PLANNING to walk the Camino de Santiago in the future – in particular, gifts that have a “Safe Travels” theme, religious and Christian items that say “Have a good trip”, Good luck on your journey”, “Buen Camino” and so on, even if only in a symbolic way.
These are Camino Christmas gifts with real meaning and many are actually hand-crafted by goldsmiths and silver-working artisans in Galicia and Asturias.
Our gift shop was established in Spain over 10 years ago (and we now have an online store based in the UK too) . . .
Jewellery for travel lovers – is there such a thing? Travel-inspired jewellery? Wanderlust jewellery? Safe travel jewellery, like a safe travel necklace, for example, and jewellery to wish a safe journey is common these days. Why? What makes the best travel jewellery gift? Read on:
Travel talismans and amulets have existed for centuries – the most popular Western figurehead of travel probably being St Christopher, often depicted on safe travel necklaces and bracelets. But other talismans for safe travel feature Runes, lucky Gemstones and Crystals, Compasses and World charms – even depictions of Noah, mankind’s original travel icon, fleeing danger in his Ark.
But apart from St Christopher, how much travel inspired jewellery features or depicts something with provenance that people have put their faith in for centuries? For example, simple Latin crosses; other Christian Saints like St Michael, St Benedict or indeed, the Camino cross of Saint James (or its associated Scallop shell way-marker symbol often seen along the Camino de Santiago (Way of St James)). And we mustn’t forget the children’s favourite, the ever-present Guardian Angel.
Much folklore, legend and superstition surrounds travel jewellery: Safe travel charms are as old as Noah’s Ark itself. Some are even USEFUL when travelling: Noah is said to have hung a huge crystal of garnet on the bowsprit of his Ark to light the way ahead and deliver him and his crew to safety from the Great Flood.
Our Travellers Cross Whistle makes a great travel necklace gift for a friend or loved-one going on a journey (or a Gap Year, for example) because it combines the symbol of the cross of St James (or the scallop shell) engraved onto the silver) combined with an actual safety whistle that can be sounded in an emergency by blowing. We have a small selection in our shop which would make an ideal gift for someone travelling.
Apart from a travel necklace adorned with safe travel charms (or well-known and respected protection charms like St Christopher, St Michael, or a Guardian Angel for example), travel jewellery rings are also common as gifts when someone is going away on a journey . . to wish them well and a speedy and safe return home.
The best jewellery for travel and for travel-lovers has both meaning and gravitas, i.e. it has REAL significance: That is to say, in addition to any value that the travel charm symbol has in itself, or the religious faith that it might represent, it can also act as a reminder to be careful when travelling: And this can be a powerful aid to staying safe whilst away from home.
In Spain they have the lucky Indalo as a protector from harm; In Western Asia and parts of Europe, Africa and Latin America they have the Evil Eye; In the Middle East and North Africa they have the Hamsa – also known as the Hand of Fatima to Jews; and so on. The list is long, so the important thing is to find something that the recipient of a travel jewellery gift actually BELIEVES in . . something in which they can trust.
And remember, a travel talisman is said to bring good luck, whereas a travel amulet is intended to ward off evil or bad luck when on a trip.
In the 21st Century, we are still superstitious about good luck, bad luck and misfortune: We are as mindful of luck and good fortune today, as our ancestors were hundreds (even thousands) of year ago. Indeed, so many people avoid the number 13, for example, that it is often absent from the floor of a hotel or the seat number on an aeroplane. The tradition of touching wood (or ‘knocking on wood’) dates back thousands of years . . and yet we still do it.
Wanderlust jewellery with a “good luck’ and “safe travel” meaning is as popular today as it was 500 years ago – perhaps more so. The St Christopher charm as a piece of safe travel jewellery is a very common gift – on travel necklaces, travel bracelets and other travel inspired jewellery, as is the Camino bracelet with the Scallop Shell talisman.
We have lots of of safe travels bracelets, necklaces, charms and other jewellery – and, if your friend of loved-one is thinking of going on the Camino de Santiago in France/Portugal/Spain, we sell a lot of travel memory necklaces related to the Way of St James – and life’s camino in general.
So, in conclusion, what travel jewellery gifts are best? Nothing too expensive (because they’re travelling!); Nothing too cheap or tacky (it’s a gift, right!); And something with REAL meaning; Something that will last.
We think that we have found the perfect offering in our online Good Luck Gift shop enabling everyone to find something suitable for their friend, loved-one or work colleague who is going away on a journey – to wish them luck and safety along the way.
For example, our unique safe travel necklace featuring a Travellers Cross whistle marked up with the Cross of Saint James (which is a great symbol for travellers) or la Vieira Concha – the Scallop shell symbol of El Camino de Santiago (possibly the greatest journey in the world). Yes, we really do offer the best jewellery for travel – meaningful, practical, prestigious and affordable . . great necklaces for travel lovers, bracelets for someone’s special camino . . a travel talisman with real significance – travel jewellery WITH MEANING.
See our shop for Travellers Cross Whistle: Safe travel jewellery with a practical use: If you get into difficulty, you can blow the whistle.
Want to wish someone a good trip? But what does: Have a Great Trip mean? What does Have a Good Flight mean? And what about: Safe Travels? The Good Luck Gift Shop has gifts to say this.
Have you ever tried travelling on your own? If so, you’ll know that it can be difficult because you have nobody to support you, to help you when things go wrong. So what can you do? Find a mate, a travelling companion. But this is not always possible. Especially if we recall the advice of that great literary iconoclast, Jack Kerouac: “In the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain!” …. You have to go!
But . . . why not take a little lucky charm to possibly help you along the way? We have a lot in our online ♥ SHOP
Many people have found problems travelling alone. But very few regret that they did it . . they tried. However, there are perhaps a few things that you should know before you buy your travel ticket and set forth on the “journey of a lifetime” in order to ensure the best (and most enjoyable) result: But this post won’t tell you what you need to do to make sure everything goes well, NOR will it let you succesfully plan the best trip . . EVER!
But, perhaps it can allow you to help a friend / loved-one? . . to wish them well on their OWN journey, by pointing you in the direction of some little gift that you can send them to say: “Have a good trip”, “Safe travels”, “Happy holidays”, “Have a wonderful time”
If you ARE looking for that little travel gift for a friend or loved-one travelling, the best place to go to ensure that you end up with something that lets your friend or loved-one know that you really care and that you are thinking about them, is our online shop (especially jewellery):
At Good Luck Gifts, we know a thing or two about good luck travel gifts – especially ones intended to pass on your wishes of safekeeping. We have been involved for over 10 years. Many of them are related to one of the greatest journeys of the world – el Camino de Santiago in Spain (our home), and many have Christian subtleties which might be pertinent to a friend or loved-one’s journey. So, ensure that your gift is symbolic and meaningful so that you can pass on your very best wishes.
Any good gift with meaning should let someone know that you really DO care about them. This is important because meaningless gifts are just that .. meaningless!!
St Christopher travel bracelet
¿Is Spring the time of year for people to go on their holidays? In the northern hemisphere, no, it’s more business trips perhaps, (at least until Easter) rather than the happy holidays of summer and families. In the southern hemisphere, as autumn approaches, the holidays draw to an end. So, if a friend or loved-one is going travelling, it is more likely to be a business trip: But this doesn’t stop you from wanting to say : “Buen viaje!” Have a great trip: Have a successful trip: Have a wonderful time! Wishes for a good trip or for a safe journey are timeless, season-less and international.
French novelist, Gustav Flaubert said that travel makes one modest: “You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” And celebrity chef, Michael Bourdain said: “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind” . . even if that is only footprints.
It is said that to travel is to live, and now that you know that not all travel gifts are equal … you’re no doubt ready to get that single, special gift that has REAL meaning for the friend or loved-one who is embarking on their journey of a lifetime, without worrying that it will be “suitable”. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.
The greeting amongst pilgrims on Spain’s El Camino used to be: “Ultreia, suseia, Santiago” (Go ahead, beyond Santiago). When one pilgrim greeted another by saying “Ultreia” (“keep going”) the other responded with “Et suseia!” (“and beyond!”). Nowadays, the more common greeting is “¡Buen Camino!” (Good journey).