to go on the Camino de Santiago Spain
Sharma Cortez, eHow Contributor
Way, El Camino Santiago de Compostela
The Camino de Santiago is the Way of Saint James
in the region of Spain called Galicia. To go on
the Way of Saint James is to engage in a Christian
pilgrim tradition hundreds of years old. The pilgrimage
begins from any point on several routes leading
to the Tomb of Santiago. The Tomb is at the Cathedral
in the city of Santiago de Compostela. The route
called Camino Frances is popular among foreign and
Spanish pilgrims and spans 800 kilometers, or 500
miles, from the Pyrenees to Compostela.
1. Go to Spain in the summer, ready for month-long
walk taking only what you can carry in your backpack.
Bring walking stick or staff for balance.
2. Check into any of the albergues, or hostels,
along the Camino Frances/French Route across northern
Spain. Some albergues accept donations while others
list prices, typically 6 Euros to 10 Euros. Make
sure that you walk at least 100 km, or about 63
miles, from the Cathedral beginning in Sarria, in
order to receive the compostela, a certificate of
recognition, at the end. Ask for a pilgrim credential/passport.
You will have this stamped at each stop along your
camino and then present it to officials in Santiago
3. Begin your pilgrimage by starting early in the
morning and paying close attention to your own walking
pace. Pacing yourself after someone else may frustrate
or distract you.
4. Follow the yellow flecha, or arrow, walking west
toward the city of Santiago de Compostela. Walk
20 or more kilometers each day, as you head for
the Tomb of St. James the Apostle housed at the
5. Stop and enjoy flora and fauna and talk to the
pilgrims and the hosts in albergues. Visit monasteries
and museums. Have coffee at a local bar-cafe or
sit in the plaza mayor to see and hear local residents
and other pilgrims.
6. When you arrive in Santiago de Compostela go
directly to the Pilgrim Office to have your credential/pilgrim
passport reviewed. Once it is approved, you will
receive the Compostela. This is the official document
confirming your Camino de Santiago. Your name is
added to the centuries-old register of pilgrims.
7. Drink plenty of water at all points during your
of Body and Mind
8. Remember that the camino can be challenging both
physically and mentally. The physical challenge
has to do with the length or duration of your camino.
It is a good idea to get a medical exam before going
on a lengthy pilgrimage far from home.
9. Check your feet often and treat your blisters
right away can make a difference. Infections can
result. Be very careful of falls. If you should
fall and injure yourself, be sure to ask for help.
Pilgrims can assist if you are far from a city or
telephone. Villagers and other residents are well
aware of pilgrims and will help you get medical
attention if you ask. Carrying a bilingual phrase
book will help the pilgrim who does not speak Spanish.
10. Begin carefully and slowly to see how your body
reacts to the Camino. The terrain varies. Some enjoy
walking uphill more than down, others find the flat
hike more difficult on their joints than going uphill
11. Purchasing groceries or supplies as you enter
the town where you plan to stay overnight may become
part of your routine. While there are ample resources
in many of the larger locales, there are customs
that pilgrims must integrate into their thinking
and planning. For instance, stores, shops, restaurants
and bars are closed in the mid to late afternoon.
Keep supplied with water and snacks.
While pilgrimages are often done with religious
sacrifice in mind, yours need not be religious or
spiritual. It is good to keep in mind, however,
the tradition and culture of pilgrimage stems from
the religious. This camino dates back to the Middle
Ages when the church offered indulgences and people
believed this was a good way to ameliorate sin.
Depending on the time of year, the weather, and
your physical health, this Camino can be challenging
to the point of despair. Summertime is hot in some
regions along the Camino Frances. In Galicia you
may find rain making the camino too slippery, especially
while carrying a 30 pound backpack. Taking a day
off from time to time will help you recuperate and
allow you to avoid accidents or injuries during
to Walk the Camino de Santiago
Jane McDonaugh, eHow Contributor
Santiago de Compostela gets many visitors per year.
The Camino de Santiago is a collection of old pilgrimage
routes that span Europe. It is known in English
as "The Way of St. James." The Camino
de Santiago is composed of five routes, all of which
have their final destination at the Santiago de
Compostela in Northern Spain. Walking the Camino
can be a great opportunity to take in the outdoors,
explore unknown territory and meet fellow pilgrims.
1. Plan on the dates of your trip. May to June or
September to October will likely be your best bets,
as those months have nice weather and tend to be
2. Consider the length of time you will walk. Walking
the entire Camino usually takes up to four weeks,
which can be a costly amount of time for some. Divide
the trip into smaller, week-long chunks, perhaps
spread out over a year or a few years. Money is
also a consideration in the length of the trip;
a walker can usually expect to spend a minimum of
25 pounds per day -- that was $40 in June 2011.
Returning flights at the end of the trip, however,
can get expensive if you break your walk into several
3. Consider which route to take. The French route
is by far the most traveled, as most Camino de Santiago
tours take place there. Take the Northern route
if you wish to travel along the northern coast of
Europe. The Silver route starts from the south of
Spain and goes northward; this route is usually
the go-to during the French route's busy season.
The Portuguese route is the shortest, and the English
route is also a short route that starts in Spain.
4. Wear good, worn-in shoes, especially if you plan
on walking the entire way. Well-ventilated hiking
boots are recommended, whereas sneakers and sandals
are not. Try high-tech walking socks and Body Glide
on your socks to prevent chafing and blisters.
5. Pace yourself and walk slowly. Walking
too fast will put great strain on your body. Set
a daily goal, such as 10 miles a day.
to Pack for the Camino de Santiago in Spain
Sharma Cortez, eHow Contributor
lighter the pack, the better.
For the pilgrimage to Santiago, you need only pack
essentials. You don't need to carry a tent, for
instance, because you can stay in pilgrim hostels
called albergues. If you travel in the summer, you
won't have to carry heavy sleeping or camping gear.
Travelers often carry extra copies of passport,
airline information or itineraries which could be
stored on a flash drive. Because you will carry
everything you bring as you walk across Spain, the
lighter your load the greater your flexibility and
1. Do not pack for a just-in-case scenario or you
will weigh yourself down. With a pilgrimage in mind,
it is easier to travel without conveniences that
bring weight and distraction into the equation.
On a pilgrimage less really is more.
2. One reason to pack only essentials and keep your
backpack light is to protect your feet. Foot injuries
range from simple strains, bruises or blisters to
more complex problems such as breaks, sprains or
torn tendons. Even blisters, a common complaint
for pilgrims, can become serious if not treated
properly. As you walk along the Camino you will
become increasingly aware of your feet. Hiking boots
provide stability and protect your ankles while
you walk. Choose a second option like sandals which
are lightweight and help your feet relax and breathe
after a long day. They can also provide a dressier
option if needed. Other items for your feet include
extra socks, a blister-treatment kit and anti-fungal
3. Pack to protect your head and body from the sun.
A bandanna is a lightweight and versatile item,
so take at least two. Pack a small container of
sunscreen and take sunglasses and lip protection.
Bring empty bottles for drinking water.
4. Pack the kind of clothing that makes sense given
summertime and climate change. Clothing made of
light breathable fabric (not jeans) and a few changes
of clothes will serve you well. Linen or cotton
pants, shorts and tops wear well. Some women bring
a cotton skirt, which is versatile. Even in summer
a light shell or jacket may be helpful for chilly
5. When you pack sleeping gear be sure to include
the following: lightweight sleeping bag, travel
pillow, ear plugs, nightshirt, mosquito repellent
and flashlight or headlamp. These are basics that
will enhance the quality of your sleep.
6. Place your toiletries in zip-lock bags, bringing
enough for a week. Plan on replenishing your supplies
as needed -- all your essentials can be bought along
Bring your passport and any visas required and pack
with other important documents or travel itineraries.
Keep prescriptions in original prescription bottles
when you pack and bring original scripts in case
you need replacements or refills.
Remember cultural distinctions and adapt when necessary
to avoid misunderstandings especially regarding
attire while attending religious services.
If you are concerned about rash or skin irritation
between legs wear cycling shorts.
Give a copy of your proposed itinerary to others
and check in via Internet or telephone to keep them
People beginning the day before sunrise may prefer
headlamps to flashlights.
Make sure that your packed items conform with security
policies at airports.
If you get hurt, consult a physician to determine
the extent of the injury and propose treatment.
If you fall, ask for help and ice the injured area.
Light sleeping bag
Sleeping bag (light)
to Choose Albergues on the Way of Saint James
Sharma Cortez, eHow Contributor
offer pilgrims dormitory-style lodging along the
Albergues on the Way of Saint James (the Camino
de Santiago) in northern Spain provide shelter for
weary pilgrims. The system of albergues continues
to supply ample lodging for all pilgrims, particularly
in the summertime. Types of albergues: church or
confraternity sponsored, municipal, and private,
often located on the main road and in almost every
town or city on the Camino. Some albergues offer
exceptional hospitality that may include a hot meal,
good counsel or treatment for injuries.
Considerations in Choosing
1. Choose on the basis of the type of experience
you want. A more traditional pilgrimage along the
Camino suggests openness to unexpected physical
challenges, emotional ups and downs, and the possibility
of new spiritual awareness. If this becomes your
approach, which albergue you choose -- whether large
or small -- may not matter as you remain open to
the experience. Larger albergues can host over 100
while smaller may have fewer than 12 bunk beds.
2. Choose on the basis of your overall physical
and emotional health. If you have limiting conditions,
consider finding the least stressful circumstances
and ask for suggestions. Many veteran pilgrims will
offer advice when asked. The hospitaleros also have
lots of experience and may offer good counsel.
3. Choose based on spiritual or personal enrichment:
If you would like to use the Camino experience as
a retreat, the combination of physical and mental
exertion may help. Choose albergues with connections
to spirituality that you identify as enriching.
Depending on your temperament, any type may work.
If you seek solitude, you may find solitude in a
larger group where the pressure to engage socially
may be less demanding. You may find enough solitude
during the day, while on the Camino, and welcome
the company of pilgrims in any albergue, large or
small, municipal or private.
4. You can choose an albergue even with limited
funds. The albergues that offer hospitality as a
gift to the pilgrim make the Camino affordable to
all regardless of financial circumstances. Choose
those supplied by local parishes or confraternities
asking only for donations. If you have no money,
give your time, energy or expertise, if useful.
5. Suppose you simply want the pilgrim experience
and other categories do not apply to you, then let
your sense of adventure take over. Stay in any available
albergue whenever you arrive at a stopping point.
Keep a log of your experiences and offer the information
to those interested. Whatever you decide, the albergue
offers a good place for rest, meeting others and
learning about the culture, traditions and history
6. Choose a clean albergue.
7. Pack only what you can carry and easily safeguard
while on the Camino or in albergues.
8. Try to avoid blisters, rashes, bug bites, etc.,
but if you suffer from any of them, ask hospitaleros
9. Follow house rules. Each albergue has information
about departure times, check-in times, doors open
or closed and resources available on site or in
the local area.
10. Give generously at albergues that do not charge.
Although they are not hotels, even the albergues
that do charge provide good basic lodging at little
cost. Municipal and private albergues cost three
to 10 euros as of 2011.
Finally, accept the hospitality of the monasteries
or convents along the Camino, for a unforgettable
travel experience -- many groups of religious men
and women are known for their hospitality to pilgrims.
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