Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Following the Yellow Shelled Road...

So I am back and blogging again… where was I…well partly work, partly travel brought me to the shores of Spain and a little around Europe. I began my mini adventure in Santiago de Compostela and undertook 110km of the pilgrimage walk, I was a puppy snapping at the heels of walkers with more than 400k under their belts. I hadn’t researched this walk at all, I knew I wanted to do it but research would have taken the adventure out of my adventure, Indiana Jones surely never researched. So I set off for the city of Lugo with no clue of how to find my way back…

They appeared like a beacon on a misty Spanish morning, a yellow signal amongst the grey. I thought it was a once off but these yellow shells just kept going and without question I followed them across the north of Spain. Sometimes the shells turned to spray painted yellow arrows and at the beginning I wasn’t sure if I could trust the impostor's, were they leading me down a path the shells wouldn’t follow, after a while I was won over and I eagle eyed the stone walls and back roads for my little yellow friends. I was hooked, needed my mileage fix and found myself in a panic if one didn’t appear but like rain on an Irish day they didn’t let me down and lead me the whole way to Santiago where I sat with other weary pilgrims on the Cathedral steps and rubbed my weary feet happy.

My designer head sat on my shoulders quiet a bit as I walked the route, what a brilliant signage system I thought. I haven’t ever seen anything so effective. Each pilgrim I met swore by and at the signs depending on their humor. The symbol (as you can see above) is simple, it comes from a mythical tale relating to the arrival of St Jame’ bones on a ship to Spain. The story tells how a bridegroom was riding to his wedding on a horse as the ship pulled in. Spooked, the horse jumped with rider on board into the sea and was thought by all to be lost. Miraculously (with a little help from St James) both emerged from the sea unharmed and covered in scallop shells, famous in that part of Galicia. The bridegroom rode off into the sunset forgetting his fiance, must have been second thoughts! The shell also works two fold, the grooves on its surface represent the many routes of the pilgrimage which all meet in Santiago. The yellow colour is very effective for view finding and it means the shells and arrows are easy to spot.

Have a look at some of the images above and see what you think yourself…


  1. Love the shells. Especially the one embedded in the sidewalk. Sweet street art.

  2. Helena well done on the walk! the shells are such an simple and effective sign system, and touching too. (Trish told me your news re: Seamus, I'm thrilled for you!!)All the best