Taking a Step Closer to Walking the Camino
Do you have a travel wish list or bucket list?
In a recent post I shared a reflection piece with you about my ambivert journey. Regular travel and breaks play an important role in my life to help me recharge. Life is busy . . . and sacred time with my family, or on my own, must often be planned. At the start of each year I work out when all the school and public holidays are and map out regular breaks and trips away for my family. Most of these are local camping adventures or short stays with interstate family or friends. Both my husband, boys and I also have our own personal travel lists – places we really want to visit based on movies, events or other people’s travel experiences that have inspired us.
When my dear Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimers at the end of 2010, my world changed forever. It was after this diagnosis that I asked her which countries were on her travel bucket list. My Mum and Dad lived in South Africa for a year or so before my older sister was born and had travelled through parts of Europe. She has also visited Singapore and Bali. Vietnam was a country we both wanted to visit. I organised a trip for the two of us, with the desire to have her all to myself for 10 days.
It was on the flight to Hanoi when I first saw The Way. This is a film by Emilio Estevez (remember St Elmo’s Fire?), starring his father, Martin Sheen, who plays an American father who travels to France to claim the body of his estranged son, who was killed on the famous passage through the Pyrenees. This is when the seed was planted to learn more about this walk. If you have not watched the film, here is a review by Roger Ebert. He says whether you like this film or not depends on ‘how receptive you are to the idea of the journey’. For me, life is all about the journey.
Jane Reed’s Dream Job
I was therefore very pleased to be seated next to Jane Reed from Wandering the World at a business lunch I attended earlier this year. Jane and her business partner create and tailor exceptional walking, trekking and touring holidays in some of the most beautiful places on earth. Talk about doing your dream job!
I shared my love of travel with Jane and asked her about the types of walking tours she runs. I also confessed that walking the Camino is on my travel bucket list and an adventure I hope to take one day, either alone or with my family. I asked Jane to share more information with Think Bespoke’s community, as I imagine there are a few people who may be interested in wandering the world and also have this walk on their travel bucket list.
Please note that I am not an affiliate or agent for Jane. However, when I do eventually arrange this trip Jane . . please look after me! 🙂
If walking through picturesque countryside, lush farmlands, historic towns and villages, enjoying delicious regional cuisine (with a glass of local vino or two or perhaps a beer at the end of the day) and staying in comfortable and charming accommodation appeals to you, then walking the Camino de Santiago is a ‘MUST’ for your Bucket List.
Regarded as one of the world’s great historical trails, the Camino de Santiago began in the 9th century as a religious pilgrimage to the relics of the Apostle St James, which are interred in the magnificent Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
In English, Camino de Santiago translates as the ‘Way of St James’.
There are a number of Camino pilgrim routes across France, Spain and Portugal that lead to Santiago de Compostela.
The French Way – Camino Francés
The most well-known and iconic Camino route is the ‘French Way’ (Camino Francés). This is an epic 800km walk which starts in St Jean Pied de Port in France and follows a path over the Pyrenees and across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela. It can take several weeks for those who walk the entire ‘French Way’ all in one go.
However, many choose to do a portion at a time.
The walk from Leon in Spain to Santiago de Compostela is superb walk which can easily be achieved within 2 weeks. Some folk only walk the last 100kms (usually over 6 – 7 days), as this entitles the pilgrim the Compostela recognition.
There are varied reasons that people walk the Camino. Many do it for the sheer enjoyment of walking and wellbeing, whilst for others it is a religious or spiritual journey. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that it is an incredibly inspirational and rewarding achievement.
There is an enormous depth of history and everyday learnings, as people of all ages from all over the world come together to walk the paths that so many have done before them. The local people are proud of their country and their culture. Their hospitality and generosity of spirit is overwhelming.
The daily walk provides plenty of thinking and reflection time and the challenge of walking distances of 20 to 30 kms per day becomes easier as fitness increases with each step. Engaging with the locals is most rewarding and at times quite emotional, with many elderly ladies in the local churches keen to stamp your pilgrim’s passbook in recognition of your visit.
Walking the Camino is a time for reflection and recognition. A time to shake your worries for another time and place. It provides thinking time: to crystallise the ‘where to from here’, or if you prefer, don’t bother thinking at all.
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On arriving in the beautiful old town of Santiago de Compostela – it is usually a very emotional experience and a town worth spending an extra day or two.
Completing your pilgrimage can be a bittersweet feeling. On the one hand, you are filled with elation at having finished and achieved the walk, but on the other hand you don’t want the walk or the experience to finish. For this reason, many pilgrims/walkers return time and time again, whether they walk the same Camino route or follow another pilgrim route to Santiago
‘Thanks to Wandering the World for such a smooth running walk on our 2 weeks from Leon to Santiago. We will fondly remember the experience’. Chris Ewart
The Portugal Coastal Camino
The Portugal Coastal Camino starting from Porto is also a terrific two week walk, which offers the experience of following the Atlantic Coast northwards through Portugal before crossing into Spain and walking into Santiago from the south east.
“I want to thank Wandering the World so much for all the time and effort you put into make our Portugal Coastal Camino walk a tremendous adventure. It was far more than I had expected and enjoyed it immensely. Portugal is a wonderful part of the world and to experience it in this way was just beautiful. Scenery and company was ‘second to none’. A truly great bunch of walkers that made every day a pleasure. I look forward to my next adventure with you…………..and yes, there will be one!! It really is a wonderful world out there………….and more people should get out there and look beyond their back yard!!!” Marie Merrett
The Portugal Coastal Camino starting from Porto is also a terrific two week walk, which offers the experience of following the Atlantic Coast northwards through Portugal before crossing into Spain and walking into Santiago from the south east. Visit the Wandering the World website here to find out more.
Meet The Wandering the World Team
Wandering the World specialises in creating and tailoring exceptional walking, trekking and touring holidays in some of the most beautiful places on earth. This includes both escorted small group and self-guided trips, as well as individually tailored itineraries for privately organised trips.
We are passionate about sharing the places we love and offer our expertise to ensure our travellers enjoy rich and authentic travelling experiences. Wandering the World select authentic and comfortable accommodation and our itineraries are focused on immersing travellers in the local culture and uncovering the hidden gems of a destination. We are committed to ensuring our travellers have a trip of a lifetime.
The Wandering the World Co Founders, from left to right, Jane Reed and Glenyce Johnson.