The Camino de Santiago:
A Different Kind of Holiday
By Rebecca Brown
A walking holiday is the perfect way to get away from the stresses and strains of everyday life back home and find a little time for contemplation. If you’re looking for a different kind of holiday, then walking the Camino de Santiago could be just what you need to find your inner peace and get in great shape at the same time.
A Pilgrim Network
For centuries, Christian pilgrims have been walking sections of the 790 km long Camino de Santiago to worship and find peace. The network begins in France at Sant Jean Pied de Port before winding its way across northern Spain to the stunning city of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. This provides you with insight into a whole spectrum of local cultures that is hard to match on any other route in Europe.
A myriad of walking routes allows you to customize a journey based on everything you want to see. If you’re drawing up a shortlist, then make sure Pamplona is one of your planned stops. Home to the famous Running of the Bulls, the capital of the Spanish Navarra region offers a beautiful introduction into the centuries old architecture that is still standing strong in this part of the world. The Museo de Navarra is housed in a medieval hospital which makes it well worth a closer look; and you should not miss the Ciudadela fortress either. Exploring the streets and immersing yourself in the local culture is sure to be one of the highlights of your holiday.
Choosing a route amongst this vast network can be a task all of its own which is why I want to tell you about my personal favourite: the Camino Inglés, also known as the English Way. It’s a short and direct route that allows you to see plenty of sites, make time for some introspection along the quiet trails, and not have to spend the full 30 days traversing the whole network to get a feel for this beautiful part of the world. You can start from either Ferrol or La Coruña, with both routes ending at Santiago. The former can be walked in 5-6 days, and the latter in 3-4 days. This gives you plenty of options as you make your way to the cathedral in Santiago that is the finishing point of this beautiful route.
Puente de la Reina
The beauty of the Camino network is that there are so many hidden gems buried away for you to explore that you can keep coming back year after year and go somewhere new every time. The Puente de la Reina is a quaint little village that will great you with open arms. Its cobbled streets and authentic street cafes create a local atmosphere that you can’t find in the cities and will never want to leave. As you exit the village across the medieval bridge, you’ll be able to continue on your journey having experienced one of the true authentic stop-off points the Camino network has to offer.
The Burgos Cathedral
One of the most incredible sites on the entire pilgrimage is the Cathedral de Santa María de Burgos. Built in 1221, its Gothic architecture has stood for centuries and welcomed millions of pilgrims to worship and give thanks. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a stop you cannot afford to miss and one that is sure to stay with you for a lifetime.
No matter where your travels take you, make sure to spend a little time at each stop off so that you can savor what makes this a truly special part of the world.
Find more of Rebecca Brown’s writing at www.roughdraft.eu