This is one of the questions I get asked most frequently, what is the best time of year to walk the Camino de Santiago. Usually, though people are asking about the Camino Frances to Santiago, and for that reason that is the route this post refers to.
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.
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.
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.
The Camino to Santiago might be a spiritual journey, but it’s not exempt from common earthly troubles like bed bugs. Who would have thought that such little creatures could be such a huge pain in the neck? In the past decade, bed bugs have infested some albergues along the Camino causing trouble not only to pilgrims but also hospitaleros.
Although bed bugs on the Camino de Santiago are inconvenient, the problem is being handled and should not be a reason to give this one-of-a-kind journey. In fact, bed bugs are not exclusive to the Camino or the cheap albergues. You can equally come across them in a five-star hotel. Their widespread reign was not brought about by uncleanliness as much as by the massive increase in international travel.
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.
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.
Walking the Camino is without a doubt an extraordinary experience – but what about walking the Camino de Santiago with children?
An escape, an adventure in time where too many things are planned out and controlled. But it’s not always easy to get away, especially if you are taking care of more than yourself. Perhaps you have been dreaming about this.
In 2004 I first walked the Camino Frances the main Camino de Santiago route; I first wrote this article in 2009 and thought it could do with some updating.
I was a student at the time and I wanted to do something different during the summer, something interesting – I am not one for lying on a beach and prefer to be active. One of my college mates had walked from Holland to Santiago de Compostela a few years before and he kept going on about this “Camino de Santiago” – to me it sounded horrible, walking all day across Spain in the height of the summer heat, carrying my own clothes, sleeping in a hostel every night with people I did not know. No thanks.
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.
Every person walking the Caminos has a different story. When walking it is enchanting to listen to the tangled, exciting or boring stories of other people. In fact, there is no usual story. Equally interesting it is to have a look at the Camino de Santiago statistics.
Who is actually walking the route? Has it changed over the years? Why are people walking?
Statistics used are from the Pilgrim’s Reception Office in Santiago. It doesn’t include people who did not register and people who did not collect the Compostela after arriving in Santiago de Compostela.
The first thing that comes to mind when I ask myself what is a pilgrim is Canterbury Tales and Chaucer’s partying crowd, or of Homer in the Odyssey.
I associate the words pilgrim and pilgrimages as belonging to a bygone era.
Going on a pilgrimage in the middle ages was often the only form of travel that was acceptable, therefore, those seeking adventure could legitimately travel across countries.
In May and June, (2012), I walked along with my husband, the Camino de Santiago as a vegan as well as sugar and gluten free. I spent a good amount of time before leaving on the internet looking for information about being vegan on the Camino…but to no avail. So, I decided to keep notes of what I ate during our trip to help others with this challenge. Because I have a minor problem with wheat and other gluten products, I was also very conscious of the details of how I remained this way for 99% of my Camino. I have been a vegan for about 15 years.
We have come to the end of the world, my shadow, my backpack, my blisters and I.
For here at Cape Finisterre, this wind-whipped westernmost spit of Spain, European travellers once came timidly to stand at the end of all known lands and gaze at a horizon that held behind it horrors and mysteries beyond imagining. Here, in the Middle Ages, before the great Discoverers set sail into the unknown, their world ended.
For the last few years work has been so busy that I dare not leave for the amount of time that I would want. One of the problems of working for yourself. Another problem of being self employed is not taking time off when it is needed, thinking that everything will fall apart if I am not watching it – all the time. This nonsense thinking ended with me completely exhausted at the end of last year and wondering if this is the type of life that I really want. The answer to that question is fairly obvious.
A pilgrim’s passport is the identification that is used along the various Caminos to prove that you are a pilgrim and that you have walked and stayed in the places along the way. It is just a simple card with enough space to collect stamps from various hostels and albergues. There are only a few places that can issue a pilgrims passport that will be accepted for the Compostela. Most home Confraternities can issue them, apart from that they must be the official one issued by the Cathedral in Santiago, these can be picked up at most hostels along the way.