Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Spain’s northwesternmost region called Galicia (as well as of …
I have been thinking, dreaming, and planning for this for nearly 20 years. I first read about the pilgrimage to Santiago Compostela in a 14th century biography, The Book of Margery Kempe. Margery, a quirky English mystic, took several pilgrimages over the years, including Rome, and Jerusalem. The medieval and ancient concept of pilgrimage fascinated me.
If you can afford and plan to use hotel accommodation, restaurant meals, and luggage carried then this route report is not for you. In our five Caminos between 2006 and 2015, we stayed in albergues, cooked our own or shared meals and carried our own backpacks. Our last Camino we were 72 and 77 years old and it took us 44 days of walking compared with between 30 and 33 days earlier.
For most people walking the Camino de Santiago means a month walking across northern Spain covering about 800 km, (500 miles). So it is not surprising that most of us plan on a few rest days along the Camino.
Below are some of the towns and villages that I suggest are good places to stop for a day and be a tourist instead of a pilgrim.
My typical day on the Camino de Santiago started about 6am. I was a mature student before hiking the on the Camino de Santiago for the first time; at that time I would have been doing well if I was awake before 9am, (I had got into student life and loved it). So six in the morning was initially shocking, however, I easily got used to the early morning.
I think I am a terrible example of getting fit before walking the Camino de Santiago. I walked only once for about 3 hours, with a rucksack, to see how I would be walking before going to Spain. I did have some hill walking experience, though not a lot. I would have walked in the Wicklow hills about twice per month in the two years previous to my first Camino, that was it in total.
What’s the most common injury experienced on the Camino de Santiago? Without a doubt, foot blisters!
They take precious time, effort and skill to look after.
They make you walk differently and that can stir up other aches and pains.
They can get infected, and wind you up in the hospital!
Blisters have the potential to spoil your Camino experience!
For all those that reside within the twenty-eight countries of the EU taking the E111 card is a must, the card is also known as the European Health Card. The card is issued from your own country of residence and entitles the holder to free emergency treatment. If you are from outside of the EU I strongly suggest you have some travel insurance, often your healthcare provider can provide this at a lower cost than elsewhere.
A pilgrim’s passport is a must on any of the Camino de Santiago routes, (also known as a credential), you must have one to stay in the municipal and parish Albergues, some of the private albergues do not require one.
The passport will have spaces for sellos, (stamps), this proves that you have walked that day and are entitled to stay in an Albergue, (pilgrims only hostels), if there is space, they are valid for walkers and cyclist.
A quick trip is not something you can expect from Camino de Santiago. With routes going up to several hundred kilometers, a pilgrimage typically lasts 4 to 6 weeks on foot.
If you don’t have the luxury to travel for extended periods, or if you’re unable (or don’t want) to walk long distances, you can still do the Camino.
The scallop shell is one of the most iconic symbols of the Camino de Santiago, and no matter where you are on the road, you will see countless scallop shell symbols.
They are used today, together with the yellow arrows, to guide the pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compostela. But you will see them on walls, churches, signposts, on pilgrims’ backpacks and on their bodies as tattoos or at their necks in the form of necklaces.
The hotel attendant walked me down a very long, wide, immense stone hallway and showed me to my room. It was just what I needed! A small, cell-like room with a small bed, nightstand with no lamp, simple desk with a simple chair, high ceilings and a huge window on one of the stone walls. The bathroom had an old fashioned toilet with the water tank hanging from the ceiling with a chain to pull for flushing. The door was old and worn and shower curtain was flimsy, but I was grateful to have my own room and I was glad to have a refuge away from the teeming crowds on the streets outside.
I lost about 8kgs, about 18 lbs, over a four week period. So yes I did lose a lot of weight on the Camino.
However, losing weight was never one of my reasons for walking. I did not set out on the Camino to lose weight and I must admit that it never entered into my mind at any time while I was there.
The Camino Aragon camino starts in Somport and joins the main French route at Puente la Reina. I walked it in 2004 after I had walked the main French route, it was quiet and deserted, there was not many hostels but it was great; also it had a completely different feels to it compared to the Camino Frances.
Last night I got a mail from Jim at Wandering the World. He has just arrived in Santiago and is heading back to Puenta la Raina to walk this route and asked for a list of Refugeos – Albergues. I put it together, it could be out of date as it is three years since I walked this part. I thought it might be an idea to share this.
If you are looking to get a very good impression of the French Camino or bring back some of the memories from your own journey you can’t go wrong with this book. I found myself unable to put the book down and wanted to read what happened next – something I am used to in a good novel, but this is real life.
Beautiful and unique gifts for pilgrims-to-be and memorabilia for pilgrims already finished with the Camino.
Buying presents can be hard especially for pilgrims. Many peregrinos while walking realise that they need very little in life. They live off a backpack for several weeks and stick to a routine of the Camino — wake up, eat, walk, sleep.
Thus material things are no longer as important as before.