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We suppose that if you have come this far it may be because you have been thinking about doing the Camino de Santiago and would like to get some ideas of what it is like. Our colleague Nicole, tells you about her experience with us, in her case, doing the Camino Francés or French Way.
Why did I do the Camino de Santiago?
I am a foreigner and like many other foreigners, I had heard about the Camino de Santiago many times. Several people had told me that in case of visiting Spain some day, I had to do it because besides the fact that the landscapes that you walk through are known for their beauty, it was a unique experience for many other reasons.
In my case, we were a large group, about 50 people from different countries who had come for different reasons. Some were motivated by their religion, by self-improvement, by the landscapes or simply to cross a well-known experience like this one off their to-do list.
I didn’t really know what motivated me, I just knew I wanted to do it, and although I started out without many expectations I think I ended up becoming one of those people who wants to convince everyone to do it too.
Why do the Camino Francés or French Way?
I decided to do the French Way because besides hearing that it was the most beautiful of all, it was the one most recommended as it is supposed to be the one that is most surrounded by nature.
Our route lasted 5 days starting from Sarria, a small village located in the province of Lugo, in the autonomous community of Galicia. We arrived at night and went straight to a restaurant where we started what I would call the wonderful gastronomic tour (one of my favorite reasons to make the journey), not only for the food but for the pleasure of the the people who served us. Always with a smile, proud of their dishes and proud to have us in their restaurant, which by the look of it and the pictures hanging on the walls, had been open for a long time. The food, like in the rest of the Camino, was amazing. Not only that, also super generous and affordable. Here’s a list to some of the typical dishes you should try during the Camino.
Accommodation on the Camino de Santiago
After the restaurant, we went to what would be our first hostel, another great experience because although I consider myself a person who can adapt easily to any situation, it is clear that I prefer a clean, comfortable and quiet place, which fortunately and by surprise, all of our hostels were.
Of course, everyone decides how they prefer to travel, but I think the difference between hostel/hotel and a typical Camino shelter is clear when you can take some weight off your backpack, such as sleeping bags, whose weight (however light) seem twice when you have to walk for more than 7 hours in a row.
Speaking of walking, let me emphasize in the importance of wearing good footwear that above all is previously used, because although no one is free of blisters, it is always better to avoid that our feet turn more into blisters than actual feet … as happened to one of the girls who came with us in the group and could only continue because of a super blister kit we made among all of us who were there.
By the way, if you are already clear about wanting to do the Camino, we recommend that you read our list of things that cannot be missing from your suitcase.
The Camino makes you closer to yourself and others
The Camino makes you closer, more empathetic and caring with the people around you who, although you don’t know, you know they are going through the same thing when you start to hear their stories, of how they got there, of what has happened to them or why they are doing it, which always motivates yourself to keep going. Because if they can do it, so can I and because even sometimes when you think you can’t take any more of the fatigue, someone appears from behind to motivate you to keep going to the finish line: the city of Santiago de Compostela.
The Camino not only gives you the opportunity to connect with strangers, but also gives you a lot of time to do it with nature and just think and meditate, because even if you have started with several people, sometimes you find yourself alone for long periods of time, cause each person has a different walking pace.
The Camino must not be rushed, if done so it can end up feeling endless and therefore, not enjoyable. No matter how tired you may be, what is beautiful about the Camino is to enjoy the present moment, being able to realize where you are and what you are doing, and (as it happened to me) realizing that if I am been able to do this, I will be able to do anything.
The End of the Camino
After a few days of tiredness, lack of sleep, walking and walking and walking (and a lot of good food, I insist that this was one of the things I enjoyed most), you find yourself suddenly stepping on the pavement from the streets of the city of Santiago. Looking around you because although it has been a few days, all you have seen so far have been small towns or vast green fields, and because you can’t believe that what you never thought you would finish is finally coming to an end.
Closer to the city centre, you start to see the pilgrims throw their things to the ground without caring and running towards the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, despite the blisters on their feet and other discomforts. Meanwhile, you start to feel a collective joy so big that you forget about your fatigue and finally thank yourself for having gotten there in spite of everything.
They say that the Camino de Santiago changes your life… I honestly don’t know if it’s true or not. I only know that it makes you see how far you can go and what your limits are. And it shows you that, with very little, you can live perfectly… So whether my life has changed or not, I can now add this amazing experience to my travelling curriculum and hope, one day, to be able to repeat.