Every journey begins with a single step. So did ours...
As some of you already know, about a month ago I went on a trip across Spain. We did this together with M. - my companion in travel and in life. This time we decided to do a bit more walking than usually. Actually... roughly 800 kilometres of it.
We chose a well known route across Spain known as El Camino de Santiago, Way of Saint James or simply The Way. It is a millennium old pilgrimage route which starts in various places around Europe and leads to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. That is the place where remains of Saint James are buried.
Since 11th century there have been pilgrims coming to Santiago from all over the world. Due to heavy publicity the Camino has become quite popular in the last years - the Hollywood movie The Way (starring Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen) is just one such example.
More and more people decide to walk at least a part of the way every year and religion is not the only reason any more. Many also do it for cultural reasons or make a sports challenge out of it. Walking, biking and also horseback riding are the means of transport on the way.
We decided to begin our walk in Saint Jean Pied de Port on the French side of the Pyrenees. Since this route begins in France it is called Camino Francés or The French way. We chose it because it has the best infrastructure. In addition to everything else this also means there are many affordable albergues on the way. Albergues provide hostel like, budget-oriented accommodation for pilgrims.
The fact this route is the most popular among all and therefore at some points also pretty crowded did not discourage us. We were however not too excited about the fact.
Since we only had 26 days reserved for walking, we knew this trip was going to be a little bit of a challenge. People usually have at least a week more to walk this kind of a distance.
According to our plans we were supposed to walk approximately 30 kilometres per day. It might not seem like a lot if you look at a single day, but our plan meant we would have to do it every single day, no matter the weather or our daily physical condition. A shorter distance on one day would mean a longer one on the next day.
After reading a few Camino related books, some on-line research and a couple of training walks we felt we were ready.
... and so we went.