by Sarah Rayner
A walking vacation I have been dreaming for 10 plus years…and I finally did it. I walked from Porto Portugal to Santiago Spain, a total of 240 km, which we walked in just 12 days. The walk we did was only half of the Portuguese Way. Two of my friends decided to join me in the adventure. The path consisted of boardwalks along the Atlantic Ocean, fishing villages, cobblestone streets, dirt paths, one mountain which had a 405m elevation, grape vineyards and eucalyptus forests. My pack weighed 17lbs which was everything for my journey I needed and by the third day I could no longer feel that extra weight. I could feel I was getting stronger.
A typical day on the Camino consisted of waking up , packing my pack, walking, finding arrows (the arrows showed you the direction to find your way), meeting and walking with pilgrims from around the world, finding food a bed and a shower, do laundry and eat together and sleep again…It was as simple as that. We ate mostly Pilgrim’s meals that were ½ a chicken or fish, rice, french fries, salad, soup, tea and of course a beer for 7 euros. Sleeping accommodations were the albergues (hostel) which ranged in cost from 5-10 euros. So it was a pretty inexpensive vacation. It became an easy, no stress way of life which you could easily fall into. We walked through many villages and towns meeting some great people from all over the world. As I walked my last 20km to Santiago I had mixed emotion, I didn’t want this trek to end, so I slowed my pace and stopped several times along the way to really soak it all up. I was very proud of myself walking the distance and sad that this long dreamed of moment was coming to an end.
Along the way you collected stamps on your Camino Passport from albergues, café’s and churches to prove that you had completed each stage of the walk in order to get your composite. I arrived at St. James Cathedral around noon and was so happy to see other pilgrims I had met along the way and to hear their stories of their journey. We all had different reasons for walking the Camino. We attended the Pilgrim Mass at the Cathedral which held 1500 Pilgrims and was presented in English and Spanish. They also lit the magnificent incense burner which swung in the church…they say it was because the Pilgrims smell after such a long walk. For someone who is a spiritual but not religious, it was amazing to witness this service because it signified that I had finally completed this amazing journey of discovery. All in all, it was a life changing walk and I would recommend it to anyone who wants an active and meaningful vacation. Walking is a great way to see the world. (You can also do the Camino on bicycle or on horseback). My friend and I got tattoos in Spain because I think your first Camino is something you never forget. I met a woman from Germany and we walked a lot together…we had the same pace…(which is really important) We have stayed in contact and plan to do more walking vacations in the future.
These are two quotes that have stick with me even after the walk was finished
“You Walk, You Meet, You Share and You Part”
“The Camino Provides” (The Camino always seemed to provided things you needed like a washroom, bed etc. it started to be a daily saying)
Bio: I’m a 45 mother who was very active as a young adult and has just in the past 10 years has taken up sports again and loving it…I love being competitive in a fun environment. The friends I have made a long the way have been life changing. I enjoy the challenge and taking on new adventures.