Our friends, family, and attentive readers will know that, a year ago today, Ori and I set off on our Camino de Santiago de Compostela. We departed Le-Puy-en-Velay after the 7am pilgrims’ mass, conducted by a very sleepy priest. It was the first of many pilgrims’ masses along the way; though my reasons for pilgrimaging were not religious, those masses were always nice places to rest, think, and meet up with friends.

And, appropriately, we did all of those things at the mass in Le-Puy. Having dragged ourselves out of bed and sneaked out of the hostel room to pack our sleeping bags in the hallway (so as to not awaken our roommates), we climbed the hill up to the Cathedral of Notre-Dame du Puy. It was one of the nicest services we attended all pilgrimage, mostly because it was such a small group. Many of the few dozen in attendance became close friends in the coming days and weeks, and most of us were setting out that day with the same mission: to walk to Santiago all in one go. (It’s common practice among Europeans to walk a week or two per year during their holidays, finishing the pilgrimage after several annual installments.)

To celebrate our Camino and finally tell the story on this blog, I’ve decided to post a few photos from each day of the journey, one day at a time and one year later. If I’m able to keep up with this schedule, this means there will be one Camino post per day for the next 69 days (until June 14).

Here is the first day (Le-Puy-en-Velay to Saint-Privat-d’Allier):

Below: The view from the Le-Puy Cathedral before the pilgrims’ mass. The cathedral itself was on a hill (a puy, to be exact), and the first few days involved lots of ups and downs.

Below: We saw this sign as we climbed out of Le-Puy. It was definitely a lie; there was a sign a kilometer or so earlier in town that said “1,511 km,” and there was one after this sign that said 1,600-some kilometers!

Below: The church of Saint Michel d’Aiguilhe (Saint Michael of the Needle) in Le-Puy. Like the Cathedral, it was built on a volcanic rock structure known as a puy. This volcanic landscape defined the first week or so of our hike.

Below: We stopped for lunch next to an abandoned farmhouse. It was there that we made our first Camino friendships, with two Frenchmen named Steven and Emmanuel. We’re still very good friends!

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