The Camino de Santiago, (translation: The Road to Santiago), is a series of pilgrimages which have grown exponentially in popularity over the last thirty years. In 1985, 670 people completed the Camino, in 2014; over 237,000.
There’s different options and routes for the Camino; the French Way, the Portuguese Way, the English way, etc. Basically they are a series of walks which all lead to Santiago. You can choose how much of the Camino you complete. Personally, we, (my Mum and I), walked 112km from Sarria to Santiago. We met some people who choose to walk over 800km.
I still don’t know how I feel about the Camino.
So, instead of doing the chronological blow-by-blow of the trek, I’m going to do a good-old pros and cons list. I’ll start with the cons, because it’s always nice to finish on a positive note.
– The landscape isn’t breathtaking. Don’t get me wrong, there were certainly nice moments when you’re walking through a forest or through a small Spanish town, but there’s also a lot of forgettable scenery.
– The ‘track’. There are certain stretches of time, whether it be for an hour or a full day, where you are literally walking along a road and cars are driving past you. Imagine that you put on a backpack, and walked from your house to a town 20km away, along the road. It feels a little bit like that.
– Hostels. They’re not all bad, but some are less than ideal. Some had questionable hygiene standards, and there was another where I was woken up by three middle-aged French men whose snoring resembled a freight train.
– The weather. I know, there’s no point complaining about the weather, nothing can be done about it. Still, it rained, a lot. This wouldn’t be so bad if we weren’t walking outside for the whole day.
– The pace. You don’t realise how overstimulated our everyday life is until you take a moment to slow down. There were whole days that I left my iPhone in my backpack. No refreshing Instagram, no notifications, no connection to anything beyond what I could see in front of me.
– The people. We met a variety of travellers; a man from the Netherlands who had recently had a stroke, so every day he would just walk what we could, (usually about 10km), and then just catch a taxi to the next town to catch up to his family. We met a Tasmanian couple who run a law firm, who spoke in detail about how drugs is ruining the family unit. We also met an Irish couple that greeted us like old-friends at the end of each day when we ran into each other in the small villages we stayed in.
– The price. Hostel accommodation was €6 – €10 per person each night, and a three course meal including bread and wine was approximately €9.
– The places. Some of the small towns along the way were full of Spanish culture and energy. At one town, there was a festival of dance, complete with human tower building. Another had a wine festival, where all the teenagers filled up their gallon containers with red wine and went to the local church to drink. Despite being full of so many tourists, it was refreshing to see how the locals go about their lives.
– The physicality. There’s a sense of accomplishment that accompanies the fatigue you feel after walking for 30km. For someone who doesn’t deliberately exercise week-to-week, it was refreshing. Also, due to the amount you’re walking, you don’t feel guilty about eating a three course meal every night!
Some quick logistics of our trip
We flew into Santiago, then caught a bus to Sarria. We then walked for five nights to Santiago, then stayed there a night. From here, caught a bus to Faro de Finisterre, stayed the night and then returned to Santiago before flying out. Nothing was booked before we arrived in the country, which was a new experience for me.
This was the weather for the entire last day, it POURED whilst we walked for 20km. Good times.
The Camino de Santiago was certainly a unique holiday. Hope you enjoyed the pics!