30 Days on El Camino de Santiago

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Camino icon

Guest post by my friend and fellow traveler, Chris Sanders.

I first learned of the Camino de Santiago by watching an interview of Shirley MacClain on CNN’s Larry King show some years ago. I wasn’t even sure I knew who she was to be honest, but I listened with interest as she described a long distance hike – a pilgrimage – she had just completed across Spain – a hike she did alone but in the company of thousands of others on the same route. The experience sounded appealing to me and so I filed the idea away in my mind –to be resurrected sometime in the future…sometime when I had free time…lots of free time….like a month or so off of work!

Well, long story short – within a few months of watching the interview on CNN, I found myself in Spain on the Camino de Santiago, compliments of a leave of absence from my company. I started in the small town of St Jean Pied de Port, France and walked 500 miles to the city of Santiago de Compostela in 30 days flat. Oh, did I mention that I had never been to Spain, I didn’t speak Spanish…nor had I ever really hiked…except for perhaps the half-day hike up Mt. Blood in North Georgia???

Ok, by now you probably want to know more about the Camino de Santiago…so here are the basic facts:

What is the Camino de Santiago? – The Camino de Santiago (or “Way of St. James” in English) is a medieval pilgrimage to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. The cathedral in Santiago is the burial place of St. James – one of the 12 Disciples of Christ in the Christian religion. Though once a strictly religious pilgrimage, the Camino today attracts people of all beliefs.
Where do I start and how long is the Camino? – There are many popular Camino routes…the most popular is the 500 mile stretch called the Camino Frances. The Camino Frances starts in the small town of St. Jean Pied de Port (on the French side of the Pyrenees) and continues across Northern Spain – through cities such as Pamplona, Burgos, and Leon.
How many people do the Camino each year and who are they? – Believe it or not, thousands of people walk all or a portion of the Camino each year. According to statistics reported by the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, more than 114,000 people arrived in Santiago in 2007.
Where do I sleep? – The Camino passes through endless cities, towns and small hamlets. The choice of where to sleep is a personal one – most people choose to stay in refugios, which are dormitory style accommodations often housed in monasteries and other old buildings. If you are into more luxurious accommodations, there are plenty of small hotels, Inns, and boarding houses along the way.
To get a glimpse of my Camino experience, check out my video on You Tube:
I could go on and on writing about the Camino de Santiago…its one of my favorite subjects! But we’d rather hear your thoughts and questions. Have you walked the Camino? If so, tell us about your experience. If you are interested in learning more about the Camino or have questions, ask away!

Comments

  1. I leave on April 21st and can’t wait! Loved the pictorial on youtube!
    Buen Camino!

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