Hi folks! I’m sharing with you my experience of the walk of Santiago. Mainly I’m gonna talk about what I enjoyed the most during the walk and the difficulties I found across it. I am also going to add some tips to help you get psychologically ready for this experience.
Many people think there is just one way to get Santiago, but actually there are 6 ways.
There is the French way starting from Sant Jean Pied de Port (800 km), the Portuguese way from Lisbon, the North way from Irum (800 km), the Original route from Oviedo, Via de la plata from Seville, the English way from A Ferrol or Coruna and finally the Sanabrese way from Granja de Moreruela.
Everyone of them is different in terms of landscapes and difficulties.
I chose to run across the French way and given that I had just 3 weeks I decided to start from Burgos and walk until Santiago which is 500 kilometres.
If you search in other blogs most of them tell you to train for months before starting the walk, so that your legs are ready to march. I didn’t train at all and I didn’t have any problems overall.
1 “Buen Camino”
I admit the first week I walked at a slow pace and I felt like everyone was passing me, even elderly people.
Anyways along the walk there is this kind of vibe and atmosphere where people are conscious that you are there for reaching the same destination: Santiago.
Along the walk there are many signs like this one so you can’t get lost.
Indeed everyone passing next to you was like “buen camino” and at the end of the day you heard it and said it like 2000 times but it was cool.
In addition, with some pilgrims I randomly met and spoke to for few hours I really felt like they would have helped me and shared what they had with me more than my friends whom have known for several years.
2 “Albergues” and bedbugs
Along the walk there are many villages (pueblos) where you can stop from a break, look around a bit and fill up your water water.
Having become very popular (the French way), there are many services, and so many hostels, called “albergues”.
Most of them are private, with lots of services, especially for tourists but there are public ones and they are called “albergues municipales”
The managers are volunteers (hospitaleros) and the dorms are huge with normally 30-40 beds per dorm but in the one of O Cebreiro, which was on the top of a mountain, I was in a 80 bed dorm. It was fun though because when I woke up in the night there were so many people snooring, it was like a snooring orchestra.
I knew about the existence of the bedbugs but for the ones who don’t know, they are small insects that stay in the mattresses and in the night they come out to sting you and suck your blood. They can sting more than once.
One morning I woke up because my body was itchy. I straight away noticed some red marks on my arms. I thought they were normal mosquito bites. However, afterwards a friend told me that they were bedbugs bites because of the red dots in them.
The next night I felt so scared, I suddenly woke up in fear that the bedbugs were going to enter my nose, ears or mouth.
3 The Walk
As I did, most people started their walk alone.
Travelling alone allows you to meet random people and if you like them you spend time together and if you don’t, you continue on your way.
I like spending time on my own, and when I was walking, I could continue strolling into the nature for hours and hours. It allowed me to feel more conscious and to let me thoughts be more pure, and my emotions go thourgh my body. In the end, I felt more conscious.
I also met and walked with some friends I met there. I hope to see them again soon somewhere.
4 Long distances
The entire French way is 800 km which is a lot of kilometres and is not easy to finish it.
But there are no rules, no one tells you much you have to walk, you can do 10, 20, 30, 40 km per day.
Everyone can create his own route, maybe one day you stop because you stop because your feet hurt, for example I stopped one day in Lèon to visit the city and to rest a bit, and from Lèon to Santiago I never stopped, even if the lasts days I felt like I needed some rest.
Personally, I was always trying to push my body to walk a bit more, continuing to walk even when I was tired, trying to reach 30 km per day.
Walking a lot, if you are used to it can cause pains, usually at the feet or knees, or to the back because of a heavy backpack, so you also need to be careful and to stop or rest if your body asks you so.
A thing that I would suggest, is to stay without the phone. It just distracts and you don’t need it except for taking pictures.
For avoiding using the phone I deleted Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram (but I was re-downloading and re-deleting the latter every night).
It has been a good choice because during the day I was not using the phone at all, and when you chat with someone or just read a whatsapp group, even after you have put your phone in the pocket, your mind continues to think about that person or events, and that’s just time you have lost.
One thing I used internet for was to download the application “El buen Camino”, that was useful for watching the distances between the villages, find the albergues and personalize your route.
7 The Credential
When you finish an experience, what do you keep with you after it?
Memories, pictures, videos, friendships, writing a diary, souvenirs or other objects?
What I found amazing about the walk was the “Credential”.
Basically this is the Pilgrim passport, along the walk most of the restaurants, bars, churches have their stamp and you can get it everywhere, at the end of the walk you have your credential full of stamps of all the bars you have taken the coffee in, hostels where you slept in and other places.
It’s a nice memory.
7 Feeling at home
Everyday I saw a lot of people along the walk, everyone on the same path. What happens is that pilgrilms more or less walk at the same pace, I mean in general 20-25-30 km per day, it means many people that you see on the way today, are going to be at your point even the next days.
Indeed the last week, when at the end of the day I was getting the albergue, in the albergue it was like I knew 15-20 guys staying there, and sometimes I was meeting someone around the village.
That’s why once arrived to the villages, I felt like that place was new, but I was not a stranger.
After 20 days and 500 km from Burgos, where I started, I reach Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Galicia and I started to walk barefoot.
Here I share a funny song about the Camino, listen it.