Walking Spain’s Camino de Santiago

Walking Spain’s Camino de Santiago

Guest Post from Geraldine O’Callaghan

The Camino de Santiago has its very own ‘way’ of getting under your skin. Changing you, affecting you, opening your mind and providing you with a different point of view…

“It’s difficult to describe in words but anyone who has taken on the challenge will say exactly the same thing. Certainly not your typical holiday or maybe not even a holiday at all, the Camino de Santiago is the type of experience that I don’t believe anyone has or will ever regret doing.

Freedom along the Camino de Santiago

Sense of freedom along the Camino de Santiago

I have personally walked the famous last 100kms of Camino Frances from Sarria in to Santiago de Compostela twice and have my third trip planned in September, where I’ll walk 120 kms from Oia to Santiago. This is the final section of Camino Portuguese or as some like to call it the ‘Portuguese Coastal’.  This route will have less amenities than the more popular Camino Frances so I’m preparing for longer days walking with less breaks. This is something I’m ready for however, as I’ve already done the French Way two times!

An average day on the Camino de Santiago

An average day on the Camino means waking up about 7am, eating breakfast and getting out on the road before 8:30am.  Personally, I prefer to get as much of my day’s walking done as possible before the sun gets really hot around 12 noon.

Relaxing on the Camino de Santiago Walk

Walker relaxing on the Camino de Santiago Walk

So if you break it down – an average walk of 20-25kms per day at a comfortable speed of 4kms per hour, will mean you are actually only walking around 5-6 hours in a day.  My ideal breakdown of a day on the Camino is:

8am – start walking
10.30am – grab a quick coffee and a bottle of water
11am – continue walking
12:30 – and stop for a long lunch to chat and exchange stories with other pilgrims that you become friendly with along the way
12pm – walk for your final 1-2 hours before reaching your comfortable hotel to rest your feet or enjoy a leisurely stroll around your next little town trying the local delicacies.

Tasty Camino Treats

Food along the Camino

Food along the Camino

Food along the Camino is always hearty so you’ll not go hungry.  Most restaurants offer a pilgrim menu that comes in at around €10 for enough food to fill a horse.  The one food that you’ll see very often in Galicia is Pulpo (octopus) – it’s one of the most traditional foods in the region and is served up with lots of olive oil and paprika.

I highly recommend trying the Pulpo in a small town called Melide, about half way between Sarria and Santiago and possibly the most famous ‘Pulpo’ town along the route.

Accomodation along the Camino de Santiago

Your choice of accommodation can range from mattresses on the floors of monasteries to 5* hotels.  Tour operator Follow The Camino arranged everything from my mileage per day, luggage transfers, airport transfers and everything in between.

Most importantly they confirmed all my hotels so I knew I had my own room in a lovely hotel or guesthouse every night.  Personally, I feel that if I’ve walked so far every day the least I can treat myself to is a guaranteed comfortable bed every night!  Although each to their own, the Camino is a very personal thing and some people believe they are only proper pilgrims if they carry their own luggage every day and stay in less comfortable accommodations.  That’s just not how I chose to do it.

Once is not enough!

Sunflower Fields along the Camino de Santiago

Sunflowers: nature abounds along the Camino de Santiago

The main reason why I find myself gravitating back toward another trip on the Camino, instead of booze and beach holiday for example, is due to the fact that I came back from the Camino completely refreshed – in my head I mean.

It’s like the walking through nature helps me gain perspective on what’s important in life.  I can see clearly the other pilgrims walking alongside me with heavier burdens than I’m carrying, all just ‘getting on with it’, making my problems shrink in comparison.

It shows me we are all human and in search of something and I feel this connection to the other pilgrims.  I feel connected to something bigger than me.  I also feel proud of my achievement once I arrive in to see the epic cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

Arriving at the Santiago de Compostela, Camino de Santiago

Arriving at the Santiago de Compostela, Camino de Santiago

I know I’ve done something that’s helped me self-develop and added to my character.  If I went on a booze and beach holiday, I’d need a holiday to get over it! Not with the Camino though, I arrive home ready to take on whatever life throws at me with an added feeling of empowerment.”

 


Getting to the Camino de Santiago

Geraldine flew directly from Dublin to Santiago de Compostela with Aerlingus.com with flights costing on average €200 return including a check-in bag of 15kgs.

Easy jet and Ryanair also fly to either Santiago or Vigo which is another airport very close by.

The full week long trip cost €750 (excluding flights) which included wonderful accommodation every night with breakfast and evening meal included.  Airport transfers and daily luggage transfers where also included which meant that luggage was waiting at the next hotel every day.  Maps and daily walking notes are also included.


Geraldine is the Communications Manager at Follow the Camino and, as you would expect, enjoys hiking as well as swimming. Her biggest tip for those new to a walking holiday would be to not be intimidated – take it at your own pace. Just get out on a few long walks in the weeks prior to your trip.

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