Preparing for el Camino: The Map
I have mentioned several times that Alex and I are planning our trip to Spain this summer to complete the Camino de Santiago, and I’ve promised that I would discuss what exactly the Camino is in more detail, so here we go. Although the Camino is a very famous pilgrimage (with tens of thousands of pilgrims walking it each year), I have found it to be relatively unknown for those who are not adventure travelers or who do not have obnoxious friends gushing about it 24/7 (hi, my name is Caitlin).
The first step to adventure is to choose a road.
The Camino actually has several different routes beginning all over Spain, and even all over Europe (it’s not a guided tour, so you can really start from anywhere), but they all end in Santiago de Compostela at the Cathedral of St. James. Santo=saint and Iago=James (one of my professors in Spain explained this strange linguistic progression once…just trust me that it makes sense), so for those of you English speakin’ folk, el Camino de Santiago might be more familiar as the Way of St. James. We’ll talk about him later.
The most famous route (the one we’re walking) is the French route (Camino Frances) because it begins on the French boarder, either in Saint Jean Pied du Port or Roncesvalles (guess which one is the French and which is the Spanish town), and continues through Pamplona (one of my favorite Spanish cities), Burgos, Leon, and most importantly, through my favorite wine region: La Rioja.
Follow the Yellow Arrows
Because the Camino is well-traveled and approximately a gazillion years old (aka over 1000 years), the trails and roads are marked with yellow arrows to lead you in the right direction (thank goodness because maps are not useful to me when I’m in the middle of nowhere).
The Camino is done at your own pace, so miles/kilometers walked each day varies from pilgrim to pilgrim. Alex and I have budgeted 28 Camino days which will average 25km/15mi of walking each day. It’s just enough for about 5+ hours of walking time, and plenty of exploring time in whichever city/village we stop at for the night.