24.05.2011 - 24.05.2011
To Amal, Nick, Nicola, Dana, Robin and Dad,
Welcome to your own personal travel guide to the Camino de Santiago! Each of you have whined about doing this walk at some time or another so now there's no excuse, here is an easy to follow step-by-step guide. You're actually pretty lucky to have someone like me to write this for you .
For the rest of you; the Camino de Santiago is a walk to Santiago in Spain. It can be from almost anywhere, some people walk from Paris, France, some from Switzerland, some from Northern Germany and some, like me, from the French-Spanish border. The route that I took is called the French Route (Camino Frances), or the Route of the Stars, and it's the most popular. It travels 800 km (500 miles) across the top of Spain from St. Jean Pied-de-Port or Roncesvalles to Santiago and through to Finisterre (Land's End). Why am I doing it? I don't know. At the moment the idea is appealing because when I'm drunk and singing that song I would walk 500 miles I can say I've actually done it.
I still don't really know how I've ended up doing the Camino. I'm looking down from the plane thinking; where am I going? Why? I'm doing what? Walking 30 days across Spain? When did I make this decision? I remember being told a little about it in Australia and thinking I should add it to the 'one-day' list. Then I swapped a book with someone in Turkey which was all about the Camino, read it, enjoyed it, didn't really want to commit myself to something so crazy so I booked a ticket to Iceland instead. Iceland was beautiful, cold, arresting and volcanic. It was the last place I expected to meet someone who had been a guide on the Camino for five years, but there behind the desk of my Reykjavik hostel sat exactly that. This was the last sign I needed, and I listened to all of Michael's advice, making notes about blisters and albergues. “You will get blisters” he said, “everyone does, and they'll be bad.” Great. Exactly what I wanted to hear.
And so, in this confused but strangely guided manner I'm flying to Spain. I leave London behind; the four year old children in supermarkets that tell their mothers to buy “fair trade coffee” and the latent tension of a city about to explode with riots.