Last year I made the bold decision that 2017 needed something epic. Something big, something new and challenging, something so gigantic it’s going to leave a substantial imprint in my life forever. And so, I decided that this year, I would voluntarily walk 800kms across northern Spain… for fun!
For some of you, this will come as no shock, this epic adventure has actually been done countless times before. In fact millions of people make this commitment annually. It’s just that no-one I know is crazy enough to actually attempt it. This epic adventure also has a name: The Camino de Santiago aka The Way. The Camino is a religious pilgrimage route whereby pilgrim’s from all over the world walk from varying starting points that all lead to the same destination: Santiago de Compostela.
I can hear your questions already! Are you looking to find yourself? But you’re not religious, or are you? Are you seeking a spiritual reawakening? I thought you had to be Catholic to do that. What the hell are you thinking? (that last one I’m sure will come from quite a few of you!)
Legend states that the remains of apostle St James are within a shrine inside the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela (field of the stars) and walking all the way to witness this means a lot of stuff to a lot of people and no, you don’t have to be religious to walk it.
Some people walk as penance, some for enlightenment and others like me for the physical and mental challenge. They say that the Camino is a concoction of thirds. The first third is for the body, the second third for the mind and the final third for the soul. I can’t say what I believe in just yet – all I know is Spain is calling and this is something I NEED to do.
So! When am I going? I leave in early June and I’ll have 5 weeks to reach Santiago de Compostela. I can see you doing the math in your head as you read, so let me help you out: that equates to 22km per day, every day.
How did you find out about it? Back in 2013 I spent a month in Spain. I went there with an aim to practice my Spanish, learn about the art of siesta and learn some history along the way. During my time I had the opportunity to visit Barcelona (where the feature image came from, although my friend Jess is the true owner of this one), San Sebastian, Granada, Seville, Tarifa, Cadiz & Madrid.
I didn’t get to meet any pilgrims back in 2013, but I read this book: Sinning Across Spain by Ailsa Piper. It was then that my mind tolerated the idea, but promptly parked it for another day to dream about. Instead of starting down south like Ailsa I’ll begin in San Sebastian, my favourite place in Spain and will walk the Northern route (Camino de Norte) until it tears off and the original way commences (the Primitive Way) which is the oldest route, first taken in the 9th century. In Spain alone there are approximately 9 pilgrimage routes, but anyone who knows me will vouch for my love of the ocean and so walking along the cliff edges of Spain’s most northern coast line was too tempting to pass up.
Follow my journey from Sydney to Santiago over the next few months and please, please leave some tips if you’ve walked the way yourself.
From here, wish me luck!