Let me introduce some of my interests and limitations. I am not a professional writer on the Camino de Santiago nor an athlete; I am an amateur (in the original sense of the word). Overtime I hope that I've become a bit of a connoisseur. These last few years it has become almost an obsession and I have spent many leisure hours reading about Compostela. Walking is my physical activity of choice and hiking is my favorite outdoor activity.
I first learned about walking the Camino of Santiago in the late 1990s; later, I attended the creation of l’Association québécoise des pèlerins et amis de Saint-Jacques and never one to do anything just once, I walked the Camino Frances in 2001, Via de la Plata from Sevilla to Compostela and Camino Fisterra in 2006 and Via Tolosana from Arles to Puente la Reina in 2010. The months I devoted to these walks are among the best of my life and I shall redo it in the near future.
The Camino of Santiago is like the Web, it is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes that stretch over Europe and come together in Santiago, located in Galicia, north-west of Spain. The most popular route of all is the Camino Frances which stretches over nearly 800 km from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (France) to Santiago crossing 3 beautiful regions: the rolling hills of the Basque country, the hot and flat middle section call the "Meseta" and the green hills of Galicia.
Walking the Camino is not very difficult, it is safe, the waymarking is very good and the path has usually a good surface. There are plenty of refugios (simple mixed hostels) where you will meet other pilgrims from all over the world with diverse motivations and beliefs; reservations are not accepted in Spain and prices range from donativos (donation) to 10 Euros. Most villages and towns also offers inexpensive pensions or B&B. Following scenic country paths, agricultural fields, crossing villages and medieval cities it will take you about 30 to 32 days of daily trekking to get your Compostela, a document that credits that you have done the Way and delivered at the pilgrim’s office in Santiago.
You do not have to be an athlete to get to Santiago; I walked with hikers ranging in age from 16 to 80. But all had one thing in common: they trained and practiced rigourous hiking prior to the trip, preferably with their backpack.
To be continued…
Next blogs: training, getting there and back, where to start, equipment, daily allowances, rhythm of the day, practicals tips, web links and of course food and water.
Ultreïa & Suseïa