Mini Pilgrimage Maastricht – Roermond July 2022

The Camino is calling

Hannah biked the Camino Frances

I don’t really know how it started. Perhaps the desire to walk this pilgrimage is in my genes. After all, my mother and father also loved to hike and started a walk from my mother’s birthplace in Millingen to look for the sources of the river Rhine.
When I bought the book “A walk for the Sunshine” in the Appalachian Mountains, four years ago, which describes a walking trip on the Appalachian Trail, the desire to walk a Camino became stronger. A factor that may also have played a role was the discovery of a lump in my breast, mid 2018. After the operation I felt, out of gratitude that I was still alive, I had to walk the Camino: “To celebrate life”.

When in October 2021 my sister Hannah and her husband Henk started cycling the Camino to Santiago, I couldn’t get enough of their stories and photos.

The Cruz Ferro

It really becomes clear that the Camino is calling in November 2021. Dick and I arrive, together with my niece Inge and her husband Paul, at the Cruz Ferro, a high point on the Camino Frances. Paul brought his father’s ashes (who also walked this Camino), which, later that week, they would scatter at the end of the world in Fisterre. I got emotional in this remote place and tears streamed down my cheeks, it was so beautiful up here, high in the mountains. And that with winter-, cold weather, the ground covered with snow and surrounded by low-hanging clouds through which every now and then a ray of sunlight managed to get through. It was a magical moment in a magical place and it was nice to share this with my sister Hannah via FaceTime. Our parents would certainly have found this place special.

Dick and I don’t hesitate for a moment when it became clear that in September 2022 Dick is going to make a trip to Northern France with his diving friend Cor.
Now the time has come for me to really start walking the Camino.
Then everything accelerates. Dick and I go to Utrecht where I join the Dutch Society of St. James and buy a pilgrim pass. That same week I attend an information meeting of that society in Delft where I receive a lot of information about what it means to walk a Camino. Before I know it, Dick books the bus to St. Jean Pied de Port in the French Pyrenees and then it is certain that I will start my journey on August 20th, 2022. I am hesitant about participating in the mini pilgrimage from Maastricht to Roermond that is held in honor of St. James and will take place from July 20th to 24th 2022. Do I have to participate in that? Dick puts an end to my hesitation and just sign me up during our vacation. Now, at the beginning of July, I am really happy with this decision because it offers me the opportunity to experience what it is to walk for several days in a row and to camp with a group of people in a tent. After all, I will soon experience that in the albergues along the way.
Ultimately, this decision also means that I have to adjust the vacation route with our motorhome.

On the road to Cap Finistere

Together with Dick, I want to look at a few places where I will walk later this year. And of course, we have to walk, after all, we, I mean I, have to practice. This means that our bicycles are left unemployed during this motorhome trip. So, during our holiday in May 2022, after leaving the southern part of Spain, the northern part is really dominated by the Camino. How special it is to walk with Dick from the town of Fisterre to the Cape. Here, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, the end of the world really does exist.
Under the watchful eye of Messire Jacques, (St. James) we unfortunately do not see the sun dying. I am referring here to the third verse of the Pilgrim’s Song: “Ultreia”.
This text of this French song is as follows:

Et tous la bas au bout du continent
Messire Jacques nous attend
depuis toujours son sourire fixe
le soleil qui meurt au Finistere.

The low-hanging clouds cover all the sun’s rays. In this place, where boulders descend to the turbulent ocean, we find the effigy of Saint James under the stone cross. And while Dick waits here on the rocks, I descend further over the large boulders to the ocean. It’s very special here at this end of the world.

Chapel in St. Jean Pied de Port

We continue our motorhome trip in an easterly direction through northern Spain, regularly ending up in places, the Camino Frances (the route I will walk) also follows. Of course, we stop at the monastery in Roncesvalles where we wander, look at the monastery (the place where pilgrims stay overnight) and of course we light a candle. The next day, after a long descent on mountain roads, we arrive in St. Jean Pied de Port where I will start my journey.

The pilgrim shop “Boutique du Pellerin” on the Rue de la Citadelle is too tempting to pass by and so, a few hours later, we leave this outdoor store loaded with stuff. Well helped by the friendly owners, I was able to buy an important part of my equipment.

Pilgrims shop in St.Jean Pied de Port

When, after a fantastic trip, we are back home at the beginning of June, I pack everything in my backpack. It’s the first time but it all fits and the weight around 19.5 pounds should be portable. We will see. And soon too. The Camino group app that regularly keeps me informed about the upcoming mini pilgrimage comes up with news more often and makes me feel more and more excited about it. And then the moment comes when I really try my backpack on a walk with all the stuff, I need on my first pilgrimage.

Wednesday I will take train to Maastricht, so Monday July 18th seems to be the right day to make a test run. Because I’m in the center of Rotterdam anyway, I decide to walk back home. Now I can go to the Decathlon store to buy a mat to sit on (this one was still missing). It is warm and at 12.30 pm the temperature continues to rise; it is now 84 degrees. So, when a bus passes me on the last 1.5 miles, I get in anyway. After all, tonight another walk awaits me.

Training around the Zevenhuizerplas with Geordie

At 7 pm the three of us stay in the parking next to the lake of Zevenhuizen. Besides Dick, Geordie, my diving buddy, also joins us and we start our walk around the lake between the hundreds of sunbathers.
The temperature is still 88 degrees, everyone lies in- or near the water and is enjoying a burger that is cooked on one of the many barbecues that can be found along the lake. In any case, it smells very tempting. Unfortunately, after 3.5 miles of walking I get some trouble with the attachment of my muscle to my hip. Fortunately, we manage to reach the car, walking a little slower. I am now seriously worried because the day after tomorrow my mini pilgrimage starts.

Dick talks to Tekla one of the other walkers

I am relieved when the pain disappears quickly and on Wednesday July 20th 2022 I can leave with a good spirit. Of course, Dick and I arrive too early at the central station of Rotterdam. Fortunately, after a while, the other pilgrims trickle in, one by one. It is not difficult to know who is going to walk, because the backpacks with sleeping mats and mountain boots are easy to recognize. Waved goodbye by Dick, the train to the southern part of our country leaves and we have the opportunity to get to know each other better. Frank, Tekla and I chat without ceasing and before we know we arrive in Maastricht. In a pub, opposite the train station, we are warmly welcomed by the other organizers of this mini pilgrimage.

Netta, Guus, John and Jan, as well as Nine welcome us. We had already acquainted Huub because he was at the train station and arranged that we could leave Rotterdam together on a group ticket. I can’t remember if Tjitske and Gijs were also there, but luckily later on, we get enough time to get to know them too.


Netta hands over a Goodie Bag

We are handed a goodie bag with a beautiful St. James shell with our name, a practical small daypack and an information booklet about the festivities in Roermond. After a briefing from John and having coffee with pie, we leave for our first miles. The temperature has risen, but with 75 degrees Fahrenheit and some wind it is good weather to walk. When there is second stop to have lunch, soon after our first stop, I prefer to walk on and because Frans does the same, I ask if I can join him. Frans has been so wise to transfer the route, written by the organization, to his phone. A line shows the road to our final destination, the small town of Catsop, and before we realize, we arrive, after 8.1 miles, at campground Catsop. Here on a large lawn, next to the cooking tent and the shoe tent, two large army tents, called Santiago and Jacobus, are set up.


Frans and Tita arrived in Catsop

As we are the first to arrive, we have the luxury of choosing a bed next to the entrance of the tent and after my sleeping bag has been spread over the bed, our first way is to the showers. How wonderful it is to let water run over you after this walk.
Once I have clean clothes on, I’m going to wash out my sweat-soaked clothes.
Unfortunately, when I return to the tent, I seem to have lost my bag with pegs and clothesline, so I have to spread out my wet clothes over the hedge.
The loss of my clothesline does not let me go and I regularly walk back to the showers (they are now occupied) to ask if my clothesline bag is left there. Dick is right when he says that it is very stupid to take something, you need outside, inside the shower. Because it is quite difficult to dry clothes without a line and pegs and no one has seen anything.

Tjitske prepares a delicious meal



I walk to the campsite manager. No one brought him anything, but 15 minutes later he walks to the tent where he hands me over my clothesline bag so I can finally fix a clothesline and attach my clothes to it.

I’ll have to be more careful with it in the future. When my laundry finally flutters on the line, the other walkers are all arrived and I take a seat to finally drink a glass of beer.
The cans of beer are tirelessly removed from the refrigerator and with a wide smile handed over by Gijs and Guus. What a service. We enjoy a tasty soup. It turns out to be a foretaste of a culinary treat. Tjitske and Nine, supported by Gijs and Guus, appear to be able to prepare delicious meals for all of us. It’s fun every night.

Troubadour Gery Groot Zwaaftink

Although the weather forecast for the evening is not really good and the sky is getting darker due to the oncoming clouds, we seem to keep it dry and, in the evening, we can enjoy the troubadour and storyteller, Gery Groot Zwaaftink from the Achterhoek (region in eastern part of our country). We listen with fascination to his special stories and songs in both Dutch and the dialect, spoken in that part of the country. The story of the passing by camel driver and the wealthy landowner will stay with me for a long time. In short, that story comes down to the following:

A camel driver arrives at an oasis and passes the gardens of a wealthy landowner after a tiring journey through the desert. He thinks how wonderful it is to be able to live there and not have to travel around. At the same time, the wealthy landowner, seeing the herd approaching, thinks how wonderful it must be to roam freely with camels, instead of being stuck in one place. Ripe fruit hangs over the wall of the estate, which is so enticing to the lead camel that it walks up to it and begins to eat it.
The landowner is so angry that he throws a stone at the camel. This stone hits the head of the camel that it kills. Then the camel driver gets so angry that he throws back a stone. Unfortunately, it also ends up unlucky and the landowner falls dead.
The camel driver is taken to court by the landowner’s sons. The judge must sentence him to death. There is no other option, because this punishment is prescribed by law. The camel driver then asks for three days respite to make arrangements at home. He solemnly promises to return after those three days, to serve his sentence. Neither the sons nor the public want to know about this and the judge decides that this is only possible if someone wants to take his place. After a long silence an old man comes forward who wants to do this and he is locked up while the camel driver leaves.

Breathless listening to the story teller

After 3 days the camel driver has not returned and the old man is led to the scaffold. Just before the executioner can do his job, a little boy hears hoofbeats and shouts that the executioner has to wait a little longer. Someone is arriving and sure enough, it is the camel driver on his horse. When the judge asks him why he is coming back to die, he says that he had to find and return jewelry that he had in custody for a widow. If he hadn’t done this, his family would be considered a thief. After returning the jewelry, his youngest son kept clinging to him and would not let him go, so he could only leave his house at night, when his son was sound asleep. When asked, the old man tells the judge that he had faith in the man who gave his word to come back and if he had not returned, then his life had no value because he could no longer have faith in humanity. After hearing the stories, the judge decides to change the death sentence and the camel driver is ordered to pay the sons of the landowner in silver.
In dead silence we hear this fantastic story. After a little break we enjoy still some sensitive songs before a thunderstorm breaks loose and we all go inside our tents.

During the night the temperature dropped enormously and it is very humid too due to the rain. Although my sleeping bag would normally suffice (2 days ago the nights were warm) now, it is really below par and I am freezing. And I have lots of warm sleeping bags at home.  It also doesn’t help that the camp bed is rock hard and I didn’t bring one of my many (soft) sleeping mats either. The cold just soaks into my body and I don’t sleep really well. But that’s part of a pilgrimage, I guess. When we get up at 6.30 am next morning, everything is damp, but a nice warm shower does wonders and a little bit later we sit outside for breakfast. That’s possible because it’s dry. Tjitske and Nine, together with Gijs and Guus, packed large tables with food and in addition to bread, crackers and rusks with different types of toppings, there is also muesli. We are spoiled and soon we sit together, having a good breakfast with a cup of coffee or tea.

Together washing the dishes

After washing the huge numbers of cups, glasses, plates and cutlery, we fold all the beds so they can be placed on the trolleys and then get ready to leave for our next destination. John briefs us on the route to follow and we start our walk. First, I wear my fleece sweater, but soon it disappears into my backpack. Unfortunately, the sun stays behind a thick cloud cover and after some time we are confronted with some drizzle. Not really desirable, at first a rain cover around our backpack is sufficient. There is quite a bit of wind but it is not really cold with 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
Nevertheless, John decides not to have the coffee stop in the parking lot, but to have the coffee in the nearby restaurant de Biezenhof. It serves really excellent cappuccino and we have double the energy to continue. That energy is really needed because not only do we walk the longest distance today, 16.2 miles, but when we leave, the rain also comes pouring down from the sky. Now it’s really necessary to put on a poncho as well. An opportunity to try this one out too.

A wet soaked route description

I join the faster walkers and can keep up with them and with the navigation of both Frans (with his mobile) and Frank (using the, now wet, paper version) we find our way north. We follow a nice path along the small Geleen stream and enjoy walking through nature. It does mean that we repeatedly have to go through narrow turnstiles which is not always easy because sometimes the backpack gets stuck in it, but eventually we arrive in the outskirts of Sittard from where we set course for the center.
It is still raining incessantly and having lunch outside is not really pleasant so John directs us to the inner city, where we walk past the market where St. Michael’s Church is located.
End of August 1938, this church was packed, as always with the annual celebration of the city’s patron, Saint Rose, and the high mass was in full swing. Suddenly a buzz made the people turn, and screams echoed as an escaped lion walked in and trudged leisurely to the altar. Everyone panicked for a safe haven. Fortunately, there were no accidents, but the photo in the church with the lion does refer to this incident.

Walking along the German border

Just outside the city walls we find a terrace in front of the library with huge umbrellas and we soon occupy the terrace chairs. It is not really cold, only wet and so we can hang out our wet ponchos and not much later we enjoy our sandwiches with a nice cup of coffee. I order hot chocolate with whipped cream. Not really good for my body but with this rain it tastes excellent. When everyone has finished their lunch and drink and survived the traffic jam in front of the toilet, we set off again.



Tjitske and Netta are taking good care for us





We continue our route along the small stream and after passing a beautiful Maria chapel, we cross the border to Germany. Finally, after an endless walk along a huge and luxurious holiday park, we arrive at Campground “de Hommelhof”.
A large lawn, where the two large army tents disappear (in each of them 20 people have a sleeping place) is in front of us. Washing clothes makes no sense today. The weather is too unstable and rain falls regularly. This also means that it is not possible to have dinner outside and after a nice cup of soup we enjoy, with plates on our laps, a delicious meal. Again!

This time we get potatoes with creamed spinach and eggs in mustard sauce and cucumber. The beer that Gijs tirelessly takes out of the fridge is also great. Of course, after our meal, we do the dishes together. The men are now adept at transporting the cart with plates, glasses and cutlery over the bumpy grass. Not an easy task. The others, conducted by Tekla, are devoted to washing and drying the huge mountain of utensils. In the end we manage to get everything back to the tents, clean and at one piece.
The permanent residents of the campsite are not really happy with us and grumble. We had so many dirty dishes that we emptied the entire hot water boiler. It’s a good thing we only stay one day. Although, the next morning, we do dishes again and of course, empty the warm water boiler again.
Unfortunately, we can’t enjoy an information evening with pictures from Jan. The connection cables required for this do not fit and the laptop can therefore not be connected to the projector. Unfortunately, but it is no different. We still hold this information.

Frans and Kees sitting on their beds

Since the precipitation has stopped, the rest of the evening is spent outside and the 20 residents of tent “Santiago” can set up their camp beds, something that goes very smoothy if you have built some. Unfortunately, due to the heavy rain, the beds have become a bit damp. I myself am less bothered by this because Netta spoils me with a thin aluminum blanket that can be placed on the camp bed. This also keeps the moisture out of my sleeping bag. However, the night’s sleep remains somewhat irregular because of the cold and damp night. But I sleep enough because the next morning I wake up refreshed. Although that can also be due to the lovely hot shower.

We don’t need to rush the next morning. The first part of the program is a visit to the Basilica and treasury in Susteren. However, due to an unexpected funeral, that visit cannot take place at the scheduled time, so we have enough time to talk to each other after doing the dishes (every day this consists of an endless pile of plates, cups, glasses and cutlery). Riekje gives morning gymnastics on the large field in front of the tents. Not really an unnecessary luxury after the walks of the past few days. In the end, however, we can leave.

Waiting in front of the Cathedral

Unfortunately, the funeral is still in progress so we wait in the square in front of a pub. The manager doesn’t know what hit him when a horde of women storms him and asks to use the toilet.

Fortunately, this is allowed, when we pay each 50 cents, and a long traffic jam forms in the square. Eventually we can continue and the group splits up. We first visit the treasury and have a tour to the special relics and clothing. Everything is explained in a fun and enlightening way. Then the groups switch and we go to see the Basilica. Once again, we are surprised by a nice tour with a lot of clear information that is also given in an appealing way.
It is already around noon when we leave the basilica and on the church square, we are spoiled by Tjitske and Nine with coffee and homemade cookies. It tastes delicious and refreshed we leave to continue our walk. Not directly to the final destination because after a few miles, we have a stop at the St. James church.
While we wait for our “credentials” to be stamped, we take a look around this beautiful church. When everyone has their stamp, we leave immediately. It is hot but walking is doable. Walking this mini pilgrimage together is special because one moment you walk with one and another moment you come into contact with someone else from the group. Talking about the things that are important in life. A very special experience. The road eventually leads through the floodplains and also follows the dyke with a view of the river Maas. It is hardly conceivable that where meadows are now seen, last year everything was flooded around.

Mirjam, Tekla and John in front of the tent in Aldeneik

The surroundings are beautiful and the group meanders like a multicolored ribbon over the dyke, until we arrive at the bridge and enter Belgium. Due to a cultural event, the old church of Aldeneik is open and we quickly take a look inside before finally arriving at the “Boomgaard campsite” in Belgium. We are somewhat tired due to the heat. Day 3 with 8.1 miles of walking has ended successfully. I am pleasantly surprised when I enter our tent, Santiago. Frans has reserved a bed for me next to the entrance, my favorite spot.

After my bed is covered, I walk to the shower which is wonderfully refreshing and when my clothes have smelled the soap, they can be attached to my washing line. I have dirty clothes from 2 days walking so I hope everything dries quickly. I’m glad I have three short-sleeved shirts with me because I wouldn’t have made it with two.
Fortunately, Mirjam is also doing well. She unfortunately had to give up on the way, but arrives safely at the campsite by bus. Unlike yesterday where we had a huge lawn at our disposal, the spot here is like a postage stamp, but the two army tents and the cooking tent, as well as the round tables and chairs, have found a place. Everything is just a little closer together.

Netta treated blistered feet

While Netta is taking care of any blistered feet we talk about the walk and we enjoy a nice cool beer, meanwhile we are treated to delicious food scents. In huge bowls Huub is busy mixing the ingredients for a spiced noodles meal, prepared by Tjitske and Nine. This evening we will be spoiled again.

In the evening we have to bring in our laundry. Tonight, rain is expected again. I don’t notice it myself because I sleep very deeply and only wake up regularly because it is cold.
When we get up on Saturday at 6.30 am, the sun is already shining in a steel blue sky. Like every morning after packing our backpacks, we fold our beds and put them in the trolleys and then have breakfast. It has been arranged that fresh bread and rolls are obtained from the bakery in the village and that tastes good.

Netta and John discussing the route

After Netta and John discussed the route we are on the road again.There is some confusion about whether or not we have to wash dishes. Some of us understood that we didn’t have to do the dishes this morning, so a small group is already leaving, which includes me, while others are busy doing the dishes. Obviously, this is causing some friction. Yet we set off in good spirits, promising that we will do our chores tonight. Immediately after leaving the campsite, we walk over the dyke along the Maas. It is a beautiful route and it promises to be a beautiful (warm) day. We chat with the owners of the nice holiday homes along this part of the Maas and while walking, we also talk a lot with each other and have fun.

I have to laugh when Frans keeps one of the many gates neatly open for Annelies, but assumes that Frank, who, after Annelies, has to go through this gate, has to open it himself. Of course, it leads to hilarity. This part of the Meuse consists of many excavations and we regularly walk on a platform over a gravel hole and enjoy the beautiful flower wealth around us. We also have to keep insects off, but that’s what you get in this water-rich environment. Of course, we can’t help but to stop at a tree with Mirabelle’s. This delicious, plum-like fruit is now ripe and tastes delicious after walking an hour and a half.

Frank, Frans en Tita walking together

Not much later we arrive in the beautiful white town of Thorn. The tourist did not arrive yet, it’s still very quiet and we walk around a bit. Johannes takes a seat on a terrace in front of the church and order some drink. We want to join him, but change our minds when less than a minute later Tjitske drives by with her motorhome. It takes a while to find out where she parked her RV, but a phone call from John provides clarification and we soon walk out of town again on our way to the parking space where the motorhome has found a place. Once again, we are spoiled with coffee, tea or soft drinks and home baked cookies. A lovely break from our walk. From here we stay together more as a group because we don’t walk all the way to the campsite. Somewhere, 5 miles from the next campsite, we will board a cab to campground Hermans, just outside of the city of Roermond. This afternoon we have to be on time at the St James chapel for the opening of the “Shell path”. The last part of this walk is too much for Tekla. She sprained her ankle and cannot continue after more than 6.5 miles, so we walk the last part without her.

Nine and Netta waiting at the campground

Campground Hermans is a surprise. It is located on the shore of a lake and the tents are set up next to the waterline. What a beautiful place. Marianne thinks so too. She arrived together with Tekla by car and is now sitting on a camp bed, enjoying the view of the boats in the lake. Slowly all the walkers trickle in, dropped off by the cab with its friendly Afghan driver. When everyone has a bed and the backpack has been put down, we walk to the center of Roermond at 3.30 pm.

Guards, dressed in colorful uniform, are waiting at the St James Chapel. They will accompany us to the Cathedral. A stop with a minute of silence is made at the house of the late brother Chiel. He died the day before yesterday and was an important member of the order of St. James. After a salute of honour, we continue walking through the center.
Our beautiful St Jacques shells dangle from our green daypacks. The organization really did its best on this. I am really happy with this beautifully described shell, we received from Netta in Maastricht, on behalf of the Rotterdam region of the Dutch Society of St. James. While we wait next to the entrance door to the Cathedral, the carillonneur suddenly starts to play the church bells and we are overwhelmed by the impressive and all-pervasive bell ringing. I myself cannot prevent my tears from streaming down my cheeks. It’s an emotional moment.

The Dean of Roermond blesses the new St. Jacques Shell

After the chime has lasted at least 10 minutes, the Dean of Roermond appears who, after a speech by one of the men of the brotherhood of Saint James, consecrates the newly bricked St. Jacques shell. We, the bystanders are blessed too. The dean says that not only objects but also people should be blessed. Something I totally agree with. After this solemn moment, we all walk together to the Paradies complex, a meeting place in the city center, where we have a nice chat and a drink. Around 6.30 pm we walk back to the campsite at the “Maasplas” where, again, we are spoiled with a delicious meal. This time pasta and a well filled sauce with lots of vegetables. We love it. When we have washed everything, after all those days that runs like a well-oiled machine, we enjoy the evening warmth and drink coffee. Of course, with a homemade delicacy. The beautiful Camino cookies baked by Tjitske look beautiful and taste good too. Of course, like every evening, we are treated to music by Jobea. This time, under the inspiring leadership of Nellie, we also sing a few songs in which we thank our excellent organizers of this fantastic event. We continue to chat with each other until very late in the evening. It stays nice and warm and at night, for the first time during this trip, I don’t feel cold. Today we walked all together almost 13 miles.

Sunday July 24th we all wake up in time and about 7 am all the beds are folded and the backpacks are packed. We all have breakfast with the leftovers, but there is still so much left that everyone has enough to eat. Then we wash dishes for the last time and help folding the tables and pile up the chairs and carry kitchen stuff next to the vans. Then we leave for the Cathedral. We can store our backpacks at the Paradies complex.

Quick visit to the hotel where Hannah and Henk are staying

That gives me the opportunity to enter the hotel, practically next door, where my sister Hannah and her husband Henk are staying. What a surprise that they came to Roermond. Dick is also on his way to this city and I will see him soon. After chatting for almost an hour, Hannah and Henk continue their breakfast and I leisurely walk to the Cathedral. It is still quiet and I quickly discover the places reserved for us in the front of the church. I take a seat and enjoy the singing of the Roermond Men’s Choir. Slowly the other walkers trickle in and high mass can start at 11.30 am. It is very special. Also, because not only the name day of St. James is celebrated, but also that of St. Christopher, the patron Saint of this city and also the protector of travelers. There is no better combination. The service is impressive and after the pilgrims have received a blessing, the church door, only open in the holy year, is opened and we can go outside.

Relic St. James the Greater

I am not one of the first, because in the meantime I discovered Dick in the back of the cathedral. Naturally I want to hug him first. I’m so glad to see him again. And of course, Hannah and I admire the largest relic of “St. James the Greater” outside of Spain.
The relic is tucked into a forearm with an axe, symbol of a martyr. Not really strange when you consider that this apostle of Jesus was the first to be martyred. This in contrast to his brother John, another apostle of Jesus, who lived the longest and was allowed to grow old. When we are finally outside everyone gathers around the Dean and a nice group photo is taken in the presence of the members of the brotherhood of St. James the Great.

Not only is an official photo taken. At the same time, the cell phones of the many visitors to the church are also used to make pictures. Afterwards, we take a leisurely stroll through the sun-drenched streets of the city center of Roermond. It is now 79 degrees Fahrenheit.


Official picture

While Dick, Hannah and Henk have lunch on the terrace on the square, I walk to the Paradies where we all the pilgrims have lunch together and then we say goodbye to each other. It feels like I’ve known my fellow pilgrims all my life. This is how we have grown together over the past few days. I will miss everyone. On the way home, Dick and I decide to go to café St. Jacques in the market hall in Rotterdam next Thursday. We hope to see many other participants. Since Dick likes to come along, he immediately becomes also a member of the Dutch Society of St. Jacob when he returns home.

After we have thrown off my backpack at home, we drive to Tekla and Bert. There we hand over Tekla’s luggage and have a nice chat about the past few days in their garden with a cooling drink. When we arrive at home, I tell Dick everything about the wonderful pilgrimage that has now, unfortunately, come to an end. Although, it is also wonderful to be home again and to sleep in a soft and warm bed.

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