We definitely have to catch up on a few more posts…our time in Narbonne, as well perhaps, on our brief stop at the Atlantic coastal town of Anglet, France. We did however want to be sure that we jumped to “real time” for a moment to talk about our next adventure: The Camino de Santiago!
Since we began planning our RTW trip, we have been talking about the opportunity to participate in the Camino.
The Camino de Santiago, or the Way of Saint James, has existed for over 1,000 years. Legend holds that St. James’s remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. Those Christians who made this pilgimage to the holy city were absolved of a lifetime of sins. Nifty!
There are a number of routes to Santiago, and the route Shawna and I have decided to venture out on is the Camino Frances: a 780 km route from St.Jean Pied de Port, France across northern Sprain, ending in Santiago.
Today there are a couple hundred thousand pilgrims who complete their Camino each year. It is not always done for religious, or even spiritual purposes these days, although that can still play a role.
Yesterday we arrived at the start line, and checked into our hostel, L’Esprit du Chemin and just wanted to give you a little insight as to how we are feeling the morning we begin this journey.
When we first talked about the Camino, it was something that I couldn’t get out of my head. I had envisioned it as one of the highlights of our entire time away, and at this point I will not be disappointed.
Walking into the Citadelle, the main pilgrims area in St.Jean, and then checking in with Arno & Huberta at their hostel I was immediately overcome with the positive vibe, the spirit of the place. To me, I compared it to summer camp as a child or when we go to the Winnipeg Folk Festival back home each July. Just a real feeling of togetherness, a huge number of people getting together with a common objective in mind.
Arno & Huberta, are more than helpful. They created an incredible environment for us to organize ourselves for the trip, provided us with outstanding homemade meals, and to top it off…they actually found a family who would purchase our bikes off of us! This was a huge weight off our shoulders, so thanks guys!
Walking nearly 800kms over 5 weeks isn’t something to be taken lightly, and we probably aren’t totally prepared, but it hasn’t stopped us so far!Bring on the Camino!! I truly could not be happier!
I have to admit that after reading a book about the Camino written by a famous German comedian, I had developed some concerns about this adventure. I was worried that this pilgrimage might be overly touristy and the book made the pilgrimage hostels sound really crowded and busy…much different than the serene, physical and spiritual journey I had in mind. Skott told me to keep the faith in this idea that we’ve been planning for over the past 6 months and see for myself what “The Way” has to offer.
I always hate to admit this…but Skott was right! As soon as I got off the train in St.Jean and walked through the famous city centre, I could feel a buzz in the air. This was a place where things were happening! People of all nationalities and ages were preparing to begin a journey of a lifetime and it didn’t feel overly touristy at all-it felt like camaraderie!
In the following 2 nights at our first pilgrim’s hostel, we shared an aperitif and our personal story with our fellow pilgrim’s before dinner. Some people had already finished the journey and were about to head home and others, like us, were just about to start. It was so inspiring. I feel ready to walk, excited to meet more people along the way…and ready to experience all the thoughts and ideas a person can come up with when they spend approx. 34 days walking.