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Path of Hope

A life-altering journey on the German passage of the Camino de Santiago

By C.B. VisionsPublished about a month ago 4 min read
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Chapel St. Annental, Essen, Germany

“Don’t come to the Camino looking for answers. Instead, come with an open heart and you may be surprised by what you find.” - Jane V. Blanchard

The Camino de Santiago, or the Way of Saint James, is a network of pilgrimage routes throughout Europe leading to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, northwestern Spain. Traditionally, it has been a significant pilgrimage for Christians. Even in places far from the traditional route, the spirit thrives, offering a unique experience for all people.

For years, I have thought about doing this pilgrimage, even though I am only Christian by name. There was a time where I hoped to find my way back to god with such an experience, but after emigrating to Mauritius, I realized that my religious roots are deeper than Christianity can offer me. I got raised in that faith, but never found access to it. The Hinduism offered me a religion in which I already believed, before I knew about it. I still believe in the unique universal circle of nature, the background of all religions, yet still more visible in the Hinduism.

For me, planing the Camino de Santiago was not about religious devotion, but rather a journey of self-discovery and cultural exploration, and a personal challenge that could lead to an interesting book. I talked a lot about this pilgrimage with my friends, watched a lot of documentations about it and read whatever report I could get. It almost took me 2 years until I realized that I lived just two blocks away from accommodations for pilgrims and that the Way of Saint James lead through the city of Essen.

I literally was living on the Camino de Santiago.

For two years, I wandered on this route, when I felt pressured and stressed to find relaxation without knowing about it. There, I captured some of my greatest images.

The physical route itself may not replicate the scenic landscape of the Spanish Camino, but it offers its own charm. From urban streets to tranquil parks, and along the banks of the river Ruhr, pilgrims in Essen traverse a mix of environments, each offering its own lessons and reflections.

the chapel of St. Annental, Essen, Germany

Frequently, I visited the Chapel of Saint Annental, close to the river. For a long time, it was the final destination when I wandered along the river. I took a quick break in the meadow behind the chapel before heading back. The air filled with the scent of flowers, birds chirping in the surrounding trees. This place radiated a deep and magical peace to me. And the best of all, I hardly ever encountered another human soul. I often reached the chapel before the Golden Hour began, so that I could walk back home with the sunset in my back.

This small valley was my first encounter with the Camino, and its calmness and spiritual atmosphere amazed me and let me wonder how the Spanish one would be.

And Essen has more to offer, since the path along the Ruhr, from Werden to Kettwig with its peaceful nature and historical sights, is on this Way of Saint James, too.

I have taken this route several times, on both sides of the river. It hardly ever offered me the photos I desired, but the peaceful ambiance always calmed me. At the beginning I went there for the historical sights, later I learned that it is a good spot to encounter the Common kingfisher, so I started to hunt this little bird. to my regret, I never have been able to take a photo of it, yet.

After my defeat, the end of a six-year-long engagement, the loss of visa for Mauritius, and my return to Germany made me feel defeated, this path of hope gave me new strength and breathed new courage into my wounded spirit. While some may find inspiration in the stories of St. James, or the rituals of Christian pilgrims, others like me may connect with the journey on a more secular or philosophical level. For me the act of walking itself became a form of meditation, a chance to quiet the mind, reflect on life’s deeper questions, and find inner peace surrounded by a beautiful nature and landscape midst the hustle and bustle of modern life.

And there is another life-altering event that took place on the German Camino de Santiago. The day I visited the Türkenquelle, a small waterfall, close to the street and opposite of the river, I got a message on Instagram. Even though I decided not to answer that message from this unknown guy, I later did and by today he is my future husband. These unique routes of pilgrimage returned my life to me and gave me the most precious gift one could ask for.

Grey heron on the Way of Saint James in Essen, Germany

I discovered that the true essence of the Camino lies not in its destination, but in the transformative power of the journey itself.

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Thank you for reading! And a big shoutout to Mariann Carroll, who gave me the inspiration to write this article.

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About the Creator

C.B. Visions

An author, who writes tales of human encounters with nature and wildlife. I dive into the depths of the human psyche, offering an insights into our connection with the world around us, inviting us on a journeys. (Christian Bass)

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Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (7)

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  • Rick Henry Christopher about a month ago

    Beautiful... I really enjoyed reading this. It gave me a sense of peace. Your photographs are beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  • Vicki Lawana Trusselli about a month ago

    SELF discovery is very important.

  • Ameer Bibiabout a month ago

    You beautifully shares your personal journey of self-discovery and cultural exploration along the Camino de Santiago in Essen, Germany, offering insights into the transformative power of the pilgrimage experience beyond religious devotion.

  • Oneg In The Arcticabout a month ago

    Thank you for taking us along with you on this journey. I love the way you talk about how one’s spirituality and religion can go deeper than an organized religion too. This place sounds like it brought you a lot of peace.

  • Fascinating journey with some wonderful images

  • Testabout a month ago

    Fascinating and beautiful. I've wanted to walk the camino de compostela for a long time - but the time hasn't been right. I'm guessing, I'll know when it is. The German equivelent seems equally moving an life altering 🤍

  • Mariann Carrollabout a month ago

    Interesting story

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