And my final thoughts about the Camino de Santiago expedition….
This was a most lovely week and we were fortunate with the weather as we avoided both the rain and the excessively hot weather. We also made all the public transport connections without issues and didn’t experience any problems with the accommodation en route.
We do though sort of cheat for this entire expedition, as we stayed in decent quality hotels and B&Bs (well, mostly) during the trip and didn’t experience the hostels that pilgrims traditionally use. We also walked as a large group, usually of ten people, which inevitably means that conversation tends to be introverted rather than extroverted.
So I didn’t feel that we were ever really submerged into the whole camino experience of being pilgrims. Also, the distances involved were not those which proved a challenge to me, although I hasten to add that this is only because I do a lot of long distance walking. This wasn’t a negative, it’s just that there wasn’t a feeling of self sacrifice in the same way as I get on the bloody LDWA challenge walks which I keep enduring. And, pilgrims are meant to feel challenged.
However, despite all that, I knew all this in advance, and was treating this as an experience of the caminos and all what they involved. It was a useful way of understanding the other options, and there are many routes to Santiago de Compostela, for future expeditions.
And, given all of this, I’ve decided that I will complete the Camino Portugués, or the Portuguese Way, on my own in 2020. This is the route from Porto to Santiago de Compostela (although it can be walked from Lisbon) and there are two main routes, of which the coastal route looks the most exciting and challenging of the pair.
The Camino Portugués is a longer route than the one that we went on this week, so I can do longer distances and not surround myself in such luxuries. Although I won’t exactly be slumming it to be fair….. But, walking these routes alone does make me more likely to engage with others outside of the group (not that there will be a group if walking on my own) and will I suspect be more of the pilgrimage experience.
I’d say that wanting to do another route is testament though to just how positive I found my first camino journey. Lots of helpful and friendly walkers, a shared sense of community and an adventure. All very lovely.