Updated: Jan 28
It's been about four years since the last big walking adventure. Lots of things got in the way and there have been major life changes happening in this part of the world. Change is inevitable. Change can be painful. Ultimately, change is good. Do you want to know what else is good? The biggest adventure to date is about to launch......
The Camino de Santiago!!!!
Sometimes known as The Way of Saint James, the Camino is a massive network of ancient pilgrim routes spanning across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James in a cathedral in northwest Spain. Every year, tens of thousands of people from all over the world make their way to Santiago de Compostela for a wide variety of reasons. Some pilgrims walk for religious reasons, others to rediscover themselves, some go for the physical challenge, and some are walking because they find themselves at a crossroads in life. My walking partner and I each have reasons of our own and those reasons may become apparent to you as the adventure unfolds.
While it may be true that all roads lead to Santiago, we've chosen to walk the Camino Frances route. The French Way begins in Saint Jean Pied de Port (meaning the foot of the pass) and crosses the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain. On its way to the coast, it wanders through small villages and just a few cities. The route is approximately 790 km (500 miles) and can be traced back to the beginning of the 9th century!
Regardless of the route a pilgrim chooses, the entire Camino is steeped in history. Long before the Romans and the Moors made footprints on the Camino Frances, the Celts were there. The route follows the path of the sun from east to west and, at least from our Earthly perspective, seems to lie directly beneath the Milky Way. Pagans made their way to the Spanish coast to worship the Sun God Janus; the god of transitions, transformations, and change. That seems most fitting because Camino lore tells us that The Way changes us. Again and again, we hear stories from pilgrims who say they were a different person by the time they reached Santiago de Compostela. The experience changes pilgrims. Powerful, yes? Exciting, yes?
So, how long will it take to walk almost 800km? Well, that depends on a lot of factors, but we plan to complete it in about 42 days. Some pilgrims make it to Santiago in less than a month, but for us this isn't a race. The opportunity to walk across Spain isn't afforded to everyone - and we appreciate that - so we're going to soak in every single step. The kilometers walked each day will be determined by the distances between villages with services. Some days, we'll only walk eight or nine miles. Others will be closer to fifteen. Most nights will be spent in albergues (similar to hostels) in open bunk rooms with other pilgrims because they are inexpensive ($5 - $15 euros/night).
It's common for pilgrims in an albergue to split the cost of groceries and prepare a communal dinner, eaten together at long tables, accompanied by plenty of local wine.
Fun fact - bottles of wine cost less than bottles of water! Long stretches of the Camino are lined with vineyards and we plan to sample as many local wines as possible. More than once.
Every so often, I'll want to splurge on more pricey accommodations for a bit of privacy and my own bathroom. However, part of the Camino experience is living with people from all over the world. If you confine yourself to a private hotel room every night, I think you're missing out on some of the potentially great moments of your life. I'll keep you posted and let you know if that holds true after a few weeks of listening to other people snore.
Because this journey will be so overwhelmingly grand and we want to share it, my walking partner and I are planning to vlog it. You'll find the video blogs on our YouTube channel, which hasn't been launched yet. When it goes live, we promise to share it via social media and on this blog. We hope you'll subscribe to our channel and join us for what promises to be the trip of a lifetime! Thank you and stay tuned!!