Is the Camino de Santiago on your bucket list? You may remember the days of Europe on $5 a day. Are you are reasonably fit and still enjoy adventure and walking? Then, you can have it all for just ten times that or $50 a day, 50 years later.
I’ve have been walking sections of the French Camino or the Way of St. James from a town just south of Lyon, France called le Puy-en-Velay for a number of years. This pilgrim route, one of four official trails in France, spans approximately 750 km and ends in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the Pyrenees en route to its final destination, Santiago in northwest Spain. But it is possible to spend as little as a week at a time enjoying the hospitality, gastronomy, and beauty of the trail in this part of France by walking 15 or so kms daily, staying in gites d’etape (dormitories) and enjoying the surprises that come with each day.
Pleasures Await You
My three favourite experiences during this past visit were the farmer offering espresso and a choice of three kinds of home-baked cakes on a dull day at about morning coffee time for just two euro, the bakery owner who encouraged me to buy a huge pastry and take it to her friend’s bar where I drank several cups of tea to re-hydrate after the day’s long walk and discovering wild strawberries along the path.
This economical adventure offers many delights but it’s not for everyone and certainly nor for the faint of heart because you will be joining centuries of pilgrims who have walked this route since the Middle Ages in wind, sun and sometimes even rain!
There were so many other pleasures of the route. I remember sitting at tables behind an old cathedral in the sun in a medieval city eating a pilgrim’s lunch of cheese, sausage, and bread or finally reaching my destination and enjoying a homemade meal accompanied by the regional wine. Or indulging in an enormous pastry with new friends accompanied by a cup of fine coffee, the decadence only allowed because we had a steep climb of 10 km ahead of us.
The Adventure Of The Moment
There is something very special in realizing we don’t know the adventures that await. We know only moments into the future and continue to walk forward as weather, energy and time allow. Our intent is only to enjoy the company, generosity, and joie de vivre of those who accompany us on our way. So pick up your rucksack, whittle down your possessions and take to the trail.