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Earlier this year I walked the Camino Santiago de Compostela – a pilgrimage of around 800km (500miles) from St Jean Pier de Port in the French Pyrenees, to Santiago on the far West point of northern Spain. Its a walk that includes the regions of Pyrenees, Navarra, Rioja, and Galicia, with many different kinds of landscape from snowy mountains, to forests, plateaus, meadows, and vineyards; cities, picturesque villages and desolate open spaces. I walked with my partner Brian, and it took us 36 days. It was the perfect time of year for us to walk the Camino, since we avoided the crowds and intense heat of the summer. We expected the weather to be mixed, but were blessed with 34 dry, sunny days out of 36! It was an unforgettable experience.
In the old days people walked for religious reasons, but these days it is often more of a personal journey, or 'time out' from peoples' otherwise busy working lives. Many people we met had left their jobs that they didn't like and had come to do the walk whilst deciding which direction to take in their lives. For Brian and I, we set of with the intention of integrating all the healing work we had been doing recently. As soon as we arrived in France at the start of the Camino, we were buzzing with excitment and each day were thrilled with the next part of our adventure, and faced with the basic tasks of finding a place to stay and food to eat. There is something about travelling that makes us both feel so alive, and it was beautiful to share this experience. So for me personally, the Camino was a romantic adventure with my beloved.
Of course we experienced blisters and physical pain at times, but nothing serious. The Spanish gave us a great welcome – everywhere you go people say 'Buen Camino" (Good walk) like a mantra or blessing as you pass – and we felt we were visiting some of the 'real' Spain, away from the tourism explosion on the south coast.
I would recommend anyone to walk the Camino, if you enjoy walking, and some people do it in sections, and return another time to continue. We walked in late March and early April, which was perfect for our needs. If you want to meet more people, then do it closer to peak season.