The Camino de Santiago is a series of paths from all across Europe to Santiago de Compostela in north west Spain. A common path is from St Jean Pied de Port in France (800km); the way of St James. Many travellers continue to the coast at Finisterre and Muxia (another 100km). Most travel by foot, and some by bicycle. Some just pay to do the last 100km on an organised tour.
Over 200,000 people do the Camino de Santiago each year for religious, spiritual or leisure/fitness reasons. There is beautiful countryside, historical significance, it’s relatively inexpensive, and a rare opportunity to be free of the distractions of our busy lives! In my journey in September 2014 (for leisure), I lost 10kg and met many interesting people. There is the satisfaction of independently completing a huge journey by foot, and carrying everything on your back! The ‘comforts’ are great coffee, food, wines and beer in each town (and of course a bed and hot shower)! Sleep comes easily at the end of each day (but I will not mention the snoring in some hostels).
Along the way is a camaraderie uniting ‘pilgrims’ of different generations and nationalities; and with different motives. The path offers interesting and diverse encounters with the landscape – from the mountain region of the Pyrenees, the ‘Meseta’ of the Castillian plateau, and in green (and wet) Galicia; and to the wild Atlantic coast. You pass through the Basque County (a sign reminds you ‘this is Basque Country, not Spain’); Pamplona, Leon, snow-capped mountain passes; and dozens of other beautiful places – large and small.
I took a Canon 5d II and 24-105mm lens, and it was mostly worth it. It was an additional weight of 2kg; but I was really happy with the stabilised shots (such as inside dark churches). When it rained (in Gallicia (and it always rains in Gallicia)), the camera stayed in the pack (I did visualise many shots while trudging in the rain). A compact camera would have been easier to get out, and I wouldn’t have minded it getting wet (not that even compact cameras are supposed to get wet).
The rules of the Camino (for me) were accepting the values of a pilgrim (humility, honesty, helpfulness); having good boots (and socks, dual layer, thick and thin); packing light (very light); being mentally prepared to suffer a little (the body takes a week or two to get used to the effort; blisters hurt, but you can always stop); and opening your mind and heart to new experiences and people.
I returned from the Camino with my mind, body and soul each renewed, re-set, re-energised, and re-purposed!
If you are interested in doing your own Camino de Santiago , I have assembled a few pages of notes, which I will gladly email! “Buen Camino!”
Camino de Santiago Images
Enjoy the 50 pics below! Click on an image to enlarge!
The Camino de Santiago Movie (slideshow)
You have read the info, and looked at the photos; now watch the Camino de Santiago movie!