Some readers have asked: what is this walk we are doing? Although since we both a very bad flu caught on a plane while traveling here this walk might be postponed for a couple of days at least.
My daughter describes the Camino de Santiago as epic. In a way it is but I think of it as a long walk that has some amazing moments. The Camino (which means ‘the way’ in Spanish) is an ancient medieval Christian pilgrimage route that will take us 800km/500 miles across northern Spain to a place called Santiago de Compostela – which translates as Saint James of the Field of Stars.
There are many different Camino routes all across Europe, but the French, or ‘Frances’ route is the most popular. And this is the one that Jerry and I will be walking – for the second time. All the routes end up at the same place, and when you look at them all on a map the lines come together. This is one reason for the scallop shell to be a symbol of the Camino – all the lines on the shell converge into one place. It has been an important Christian pilgrimage route for over 1000 years. In medieval times it was the third most important route after Jerusalem and Rome.
The Camino Frances starts at a small French village, St Jean Pied de Port which is nestled at the base of the Pyrenees mountains. No matter where you start the Camino route ends in the Spanish province of Galicia, at Santiago de Compostela. It is believed to be the final resting place of Saint James the Apostle. To me, it does not matter if the actual relics are there or not. The tradition, the stories, the value system and the journey make you reach for something greater than yourself, you have to dig a little deeper in order to complete the walk. For this reason, it is worth doing.
We are very blessed indeed to be able to do it for a second time as we walked the route in the Northern Hemisphere Autumn in 2016. Jerry wrote about our adventures here. Thanks goes to Jerry too for the photo (Above) of the Alto de Perdon
Walking across a country offers unique experiences. The Beyond the Way series by Aussie filmmaker Andrew Suzuki touches on some of the complexities of the experience which I think some of my readers will enjoy. These 10 short films that have inspired thousands of people. You can find out more of Andrew Suzuki’s work at Beyondtheway.net
Beyond the Way Prologue
Beyond the Way 01: Oh the Places…
In his first video, Andrew quotes Dr Suess with flair and optimism while learning a life lesson.
Beyond the Way 2: Ascension
Beyond the Way 03: In the name of the father… ( I think this is one of my favourites of all the episodes)
Beyond the Way 04: Struggletown. Population, me.
Beyond the Way 05: Perfectly Imperfect. (oh dear another favourite episode)
Beyond the Way 06: Walk, eat, sleep, repeat…
Beyond the Way 07: The Golden Mile.
Beyond the Way 08: The professor and his puppies
Beyond the Way 09: Some assembly required.
Beyond the Way 10: To the end…
If you enjoyed this series I am not affiliated but I do believe Andrew Suzuki’s work is very worthwhile and should be supported – he has a Patreon site where people can donate to give support.
Beyond the Way – Patreon Main
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So nice speaking with you and Jerry this morning in Roncesvalles.
Going with a tour group is nothing like walking it yourself, where you get to meet lots of people from different countries, speaking different languages and practice being open-minded and open to possibilities. Staying in albergues means being adaptable and escaping the extreme privilege we live with, but perhaps a compromise is possible. You walk your path and meet him at the end of each day, staying in different accommodations.
The Via Frances has so many people on it, I doubt if you would ever be alone, and there’s little risk of getting lost. You do have to be willing to reduce your standard of living, but as the narrator says, it’s partly about stripping away the unnecessary. Having walked a different path, the images of the Via Frances look too crowded for me. if you take another path, a good map function on your cell phone, and a good phone with a local sim card are both very useful. Some travel Spanish might also be very helpful. There seem to be relatively few Spaniards who speak English. Make sure your pack weighs under 10 pounds without water and food (both are very heavy). You’ll have to do laundry every night, but it’s worth it.
As a 65-year old female, I started in Guadix, and walked the via Mozarabe to Merida, where it connects to the via de la Plata and then via Sanabres (58 days).
Its been on my bucket list for several years now with finishing the UK coastal walk . I didn’t realise they now do tour groups ,not how I intend to walk it ,you would miss so much in a group .
I’d love to do the Camino, but my hubby would insist on doing it with a tour group. It wouldnt be the same as you mention. Too much would be missed.
Hi Ann – yes too much would be missed but you can always go on your own too – its quite safe for women and if you need company you will find friends along the way. Watch the videos many women walk it alone