If you are worried that the Camino de Santiago might be a bit too much for you, you don’t have to be. Every year, about 300,000 pilgrims walk the Camino, and a significant number of them has seen a fair number of years. Your age is in your mind. Forget about the numbers and engage in this breathtaking adventure.
What is the Camino de Santiago?
The Camino de Santiago or the Way of Saint James is a network of ancient pilgrim routes leading to the tomb of the apostle Saint James the Great. His remains were enshrined in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain.
“Camino” actually means “path”, “road”, or “journey”. Many follow these routes as a form of spiritual growth, although a majority of people don’t do it for religious reasons. It is also popular with hiking and cycling enthusiast.
Most people who have walked the Camino de Santiago describe it as a life-changing experience. Finding oneself and enjoying the silence and stunning views is what this walk is all about.
There are many routes to explore. The Camino Primitivo is the oldest route, and “the most popular is the Camino Frances”:https://www.followthecamino.com/camino_tours/camino-frances . It starts at St Jean Pied de Port in France, crosses the Pyrenees through the Basque country to Santiago. It is a 490-mile route and it would take you 32 days, walking 15 miles a day on average.
When you arrive at St Jean Pied de Port, you can collect your Pilgrim Passport and get it stamped along the way. If you’ve walked at least 62 miles (100 kilometres), you can qualify for the Compostela certificate upon arriving in Santiago.
The path passes through different landscapes: the snow-capped Pyrenees, wild deserted hills and even dense eucalyptus forests. The trip combines hostels, restaurants, and boutique hotels, so there are plenty of options for rest and a good meal. You may be surprised how kind waiters and bartenders can be.
How to Make It Happen
It’s important to remember that this is your walk and it can last as long as you want. Find your own pace and stick to it.
However, it is essential to prepare adequately. That means you have to start walking at least two or three months before the trip. It is necessary to get used to the walking and climbing while wearing a backpack. Without training, you may be able to finish the Camino, but the odds of injury are much greater.
At first, walk short distances, and then gradually increase your mileage. You need to know how your body reacts to a couple of hours of walking and climbing up hills.
If you live in a flat area, start using a slanted treadmill or try walking up the stairs as often as you can. This can be a good exercise. Bring some walking sticks with you if you are not sure how you would conquer the hills.
As you know, “walking has numerous health benefits”:http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/best-benefits-of-walking/ . It can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke and it can lead to weight loss and sleep improvement. Walking strengthens your muscles which leads to better mobility. It increases your confidence and reduces depression. Wouldn’t it be nice to exercise and enjoy it at the same time?
The Camino de Santiago is not a race. If you feel like you need a rest, then that is what you have to do. It’s even better not to walk too many miles at first.
Take your time to explore interesting cities and buildings. You will be blown away by the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Burgos and Gaudi’s masterpiece, the Episcopal Palace. At the top of the Monte Irago, the highest point of the Camino, pilgrims traditionally leave a rock which symbolises their journey.
You are as old as you allow yourself to feel. No one cares how far you’ll go, or how many days it will take you. Put the numbers aside and appreciate each moment on the Camino. Buen Camino.