Destinations

Published on September 2nd, 2014 | by Jane Tilley

0

The Camino De Santiago

A Hike For All Reasons

By: JANE TILLEY

Whether you are an intrepid hiker, a hopeless romantic, an avid historian, or a lover of nature, this 800 km walk is for you.

camino_3_photoThe Camino de Santiago is a 1000 year old “road” spanning northern Spain from the border of France to the northwestern city of Santiago de Compostela. It was one of the three major Christian pilgrimage routes during the middle ages. Today, it is the most popular long distance trail in Europe, leading the traveler over the peaks of the Pyrenees, through rustic villages and dense forests, across rolling fields, and into soaring cathedrals.

To walk the entire Camino is, indeed, an odyssey requiring a minimum of six weeks of steady endurance walking. However, many “pilgrims” choose to walk only the last 200 kms into the city of Santiago de Compostela. This is the option that we chose. We walked 25 kms each day and were, by day’s end, dusty, tired, and absolutely TRIUMPHANT. There are companies which organize a week’s walk but this is expensive and definitely not necessary. We planned our own itinerary, the distance to cover each day, and the accommodation at night. The route is clearly marked with signs, yellow arrows, and by shells (the shell is the symbol of the Camino). These shells are found on trees, buildings, crossroads, and are even embedded in the pavement and sidewalks. You just need to follow them and keep heading west.

We began our adventure in Lugo, a city founded by the Romans in the first century and which today boasts the most extant Roman walls in western Europe and also a magnificent medieval cathedral. This was just the beginning of all the fabulous architecture, art, and history that awaited us along our route. Each city, town, and village was a feast for the eyes offering stunning stain glass windows, soaring gothic ceilings, portals, sculpture, artifacts, and history. The scenery, wine, and Galician cuisine were added bonuses.

The end of the journey is the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. In medieval times, it was the most visited pilgrimage site in the world and today it is a World Heritage site. It is a breathtaking vision, best approached in the late afternoon while it is glowing in the splendor of the setting sun. It is so magnificent that the weary, hurting pilgrim can hardly believe it to be real. At 7pm, each day, a “Pilgrim’s Service” is celebrated in the cathedral. All are welcome regardless of faith, creed, or colour. And all attend! Most have been walking for weeks to experience this very moment. Of course, the service is completely in Spanish but it matters not if you can’t understand the words. The language is irrelevant because the service is all about affirming life and being “one” with all the hundreds of people in that place, exactly then. Everyone is unified by the physical and spiritual struggle to have actually arrived.

In the course of a day’s walking you actually march through centuries and become more and more aware of the presence of those who had trod the path before you, so long ago. And so it was that we gradually began to understand the power of the Camino and the spell it has cast over pilgrims such as Charlemagne, Dante, Chaucer, and even Pope John 11.

Camino_photo_2All along the route, you meet dozens of other “pilgrims”. People you will never see again in this lifetime share their joys, sorrows, and hopes with you. They come from all over the world for profound reasons and sometimes just for the challenge of physically walking the Camino. But in the end, everyone is transformed by the experience.

Some of the lessons my husband and I learned along the way:

We are all on the same path but travelling at our own rhythm, in our own space. Accept everyone. The shortest day can be the most tiring. Not everything is as expected. Slow down to allow spaciousness into our lives. Look and really see. We all need the camaraderie and support of other wayfarers. There is beauty through the exhaustion and the pain. Language is always overcome by genuine friendliness. You only need bare necessities. Finally, DON’T QUIT!

We have forgotten the calluses, the exhaustion, the long days, the thirst, and the weather. We can’t wait to return and walk the other end of the road. Another time!


About the Author

Jane Tilley

. Jane enjoys the quest for unusual destinations and the experiences that unfold en route. This typically excludes five star, group tours. Rather, she chooses to cover small areas in depth. This enables her to become well acquainted with the nuances of local life and the rhythms of the lives of people who live there. Her writing shares the joys of the road less travelled and the knowledge gained along the way.

Jane is also involved with the Canadian Foundation of the Mully Children’s Family, an orphanage with 2,500 children in Kenya – more than 10,000 children have benefitted from its care over the past 25 years.

As Jane says, “take a step off the prescribed path and see how your life can alter. Embrace the unexpected and find its joy.”



Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑
  • Follow us on Social Media
  • Women With Vision
  • Get our latest updates >>>

    Sign up to receive our FREE newsletter
  • Click to read Spring/Summer Issue

    Fall/Winter, 2015

    Click above image to read our current online issue!

  • Browse by Sections

    <Business, Finance & Communication   Lifestyle & Beauty   Gourmet   Home, Garden & Design   Arts & Entertainment    Motivational & Inspirational   Destinations   Gourmet

     

  • Click to listen to our friends:

    The Jewel 88.5   The Jewel 99.3   The Peak 95.1 FM
  • “Your vision is our mission –
    Our mission is your Vision!” ©

  • Archives