29 Comments

  1. Wade
    March 17, 2016 @ 2:31 pm

    Wow. For me, there’s a powerful message in here about doing things that excite you, even if others balk at it, look down on it, or say it’s a waste of time. I’ve never done the Camino, though I’ve spoken with some who have, and would like to in the future. It boggles my mind that some people would look at people getting outside, engaging in a physical challenge, and trying something new, only to scoff at them.

    If you go out at take your first ever hike and spend thirty minutes and walk half a mile, then I’m excited for you, and I want to encourage you to do more. Everybody starts somewhere.

    Reply

    • Tom Allen
      March 19, 2016 @ 1:15 pm

      Couldn’t agree more.

      Reply

      • Garry McDougall
        March 27, 2016 @ 10:45 am

        Hi Tom,
        I am writing a short book on my camino hike. Love your commentary, and would like permission to quote about one hundred words at the book’s end. I’ll include your links as well, so more people come your way.

        Here’s the summary:
        I decide to walk 300km of the camino the night before departing for Madrid. Tracing my adventures and misadventures from Leon, there are unique insights into the camino experience, landscape, culture and its past. My other task is tapping into the creative, producing original short stories and poetica. The reader see how each came into being, and how its meaning is shaped by language. This twin struggle to Santiago and creativity creates joys and crises, reveals all my shortcomings until acceptance and humility are won.

        Reply

  2. Stephen Miller
    March 17, 2016 @ 11:34 pm

    “What’s so unique about the Camino is that it delivers all the dreamlike qualities of a big adventure and simultaneously removes the unknowns.”

    I think you answered your own question.

    Reply

  3. Mariusz
    March 18, 2016 @ 6:05 pm

    In my opinion Camino is great mainly because there is so many people doing it in the same time. I started cycling it alone but finally met on the way other cyclist so we ended in 10 people reaching together Santiago de Compostela. On the way some of us had problems with gear, condition and we’ve been helping each other. That what is best – to discover people and dealing with your own habits. Sometimes to travel with somebody you have to give up some of your behaviour. That let us to change and open the eyes more. Everybody travelling there is going in the same way and that unites us. To feel connected to others and the world… that is the soul of Camino I would say.

    BTW when are you going to do it again? Walking or cycling?

    Reply

    • Tom Allen
      March 19, 2016 @ 1:15 pm

      Thanks for your comment! Couldn’t agree more about the social side of it. I don’t yet know when I’ll go back – hopefully later this year, and probably on foot again.

      Reply

      • Jeff Booher
        March 27, 2016 @ 2:18 am

        well wrote … I enjoyed it all I will walk the Camino with my son in 2018 / in 2014 I walked with both my daughters we had a great time … after the walk it calls you back …
        I have lived most of my life in a lunch box every day the same … on my 50th b-day I walked and lived the adventure … I really don’t care how others rate the Camino .. It moved me deeply … it put me in contact with really nice people … in my world it seems they are few … all racing for the un reachable carrot … it grounded me …reset my life …. it will again …. god willing …. thank you for your insight I couldn’t agree more

        Reply

  4. Bill
    March 18, 2016 @ 6:58 pm

    You are a special human with a gift and courage to truly adventure. You are also a great teacher paving may I say hope for 65 year old to ride 100 km.I am 50lbs. lighter now and Rome was not built in a day.Some say Tomato and some say tomato….

    Reply

  5. Allen
    March 26, 2016 @ 10:57 pm

    Great read. I begin my Camino in just 6 short weeks. I thought the poignant statement was “someone told them it was possible and they did it”. There is a myriad of reasons why a traveller choses to follow the way. As in all journeys the worth is not in how others view it, but rather what you invest in it yourself. The Camino may represent something different for each soul who follows it. Those who would scoff at it, obviously are so superficial, they are incapable of investing their spirit because quite frankly they are not deeply invested in life. Another great point is that this is an excellent starter for adventure travelers. In my view the number of people seeking the way speaks volumes to the significance of it. I wouldn’t of missed the pyramids of Giza for the world, does that make me a simple tourist? Most of the planet never leave the comforts of their neighborhood.

    Reply

    • Barbara
      March 27, 2016 @ 10:55 pm

      “Most of the planet never leave the comforts of their neighborhood…..” you mean : “most of the planet cannot afford to think about taking holidays…”
      Remember, this is an occidental luxury..

      Reply

  6. Maggie
    March 26, 2016 @ 11:20 pm

    I was directed to this article via a Camino forum. I am about to commence my fourth Camino de Santiago, each time a different route. There is something that draws people back to the Camino time and again. I had never hiked, or even walked for pleasure before my daughter invited me to join her on the Camino Frances in 2014 and since then I have walked 3,000 Camino kilometres and am about to walk 1,000 more. I have blogged live from the trail every day and it never ceases to amaze me that I receive views from all over the world and have such interesting interaction from so many enthusiastic people. The Camino has changed my life and I am very grateful to it.
    Buen Camino for your next adventure.

    Reply

  7. Tom Sweeney
    March 26, 2016 @ 11:49 pm

    Tom, that’s a great article, I love it and am sharing it with my friends who, like me, are great fans of the Camino de Santiago. But please, change the typeface, because it’s so ugly and difficult to read.

    Reply

    • Tom Allen
      March 31, 2016 @ 5:18 am

      Glad you enjoyed the article. I’ve had no other complaints about the typeface, though!

      Reply

  8. Deborah Schroth
    March 27, 2016 @ 12:13 am

    I don’t think the majority of peregrinos walk to be called “adventurers.” Who cares what the “elite” adventurers think?

    Reply

    • jon harrison
      March 31, 2016 @ 2:14 pm

      Second that, Deborah. I am not proud of the manner I completed my Camino Frances (SJPP to SdC) – slow and somewhat painful, but I completed it (and out of ignorance didn’t use a taxi or bus anywhere and didn’t realize until a couple of years later that such a ‘deprivation’ was an accomplishment in itself) and maybe 2/3 the way thru something changed in me that has lasted.

      Reply

  9. joezarcaro
    March 27, 2016 @ 12:40 am

    The Camino is special. It is not camping out. It is not in the wilderness, although many times I looked around and did not see anyone for what seemed miles. It is not necessarily a pilgrimage although it is a pilgrimage for many. I found it to be a long walk with my wife of 40 years whereupon we met many, many wonderful people. We heard of the challenge and investigated it and studied it. We thought we could do it and tried it and walked the whole 500 miles. We might not do another Camino but we have investigated other walks that are interesting. The difference this time is that we know we can do it. The Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail is not what we want to do or are able to do. A long walk with supporting infrastructure is great for older folks.

    Reply

  10. jenniferhofmann
    March 27, 2016 @ 6:40 am

    Maybe, in the end, it doesn’t matter what you do, but how you do it.

    Reply

  11. Jon harrison
    March 27, 2016 @ 5:06 pm

    The Camino guarantees nothing but finding one’s inner strength …if one is willing to find it. The Camino can be walked in a’modern’ way, with occasional taxi or bus ride, or it can be done in the purist WAY with just stubborn determination and the will power o get up and out every morning and do IT again – that threshold can come on the second day from the classic start at the French border (St Jean PP) , and if you survive the first day mountain climb. About 5% of Pilgrims complete the Camino France’s this way,but there is where the adventures are richest – how about running out of water, at altitude and it’s hot, and realizing that you have 6 hours left before you get to the next village but then miraculously stumbling across the fabled mountain spring of THE Knight Roland, from high school and English 101… In the very historical place where Roland heroically fell in battle that had no outcome but his falling…but he did it anyway…so why should you complain but here you are thirsty and water-deprived beyond imagination .(you feel) but now rewarded with endless mountain spring water that is maybe the purist water in the world. Hmmm, gives a chill even at altitude and 90 degrees. And that is only the first or second day…and there is 500 miles to go with many more confrontations with ‘self’ and one’s inner Roland or St Joan d’Arc. That is the WAY!

    Reply

  12. Keiran
    March 27, 2016 @ 8:18 pm

    Firstly Tom thanks for a great blog(s) which I have been reading for a few years now and has been a source of inspiration to me. I walked my first Camino, the Camino Frances in 2012 and wasn’t even sure if I would make it all the way to Santiago but due to the many wonderful people met along the way I persevered and after 800 kilometers arrived in Santiago. There is something about the Camino that grows on you. Since then I have walked the Via de la Plata, Seville to Santiago route, which is a 1000 kilometer long and much, much quieter than the Camino Frances. Last year I walked the Camino del Norte from Bayonne in France to Cabo Fisterra and having finished that went on to walk the Camino de Levante from Valencia to Santiago which was a 1200 kilometer route and very challenging as there was very little infrastructure for pilgrims. Between Valencia and Zamora a distance of about 800 kilometers I can’t have encountered more than half a dozen other pilgrims. I slept in bull rings, monasteries, convents, gymnasiums, accommodation provided by policia municipal, camped out and even stayed a few nights in very infrequent albergues. The Camino can definitely be an adventure! The Camino Frances is the one most people think of but there are many other very rewarding routes in Spain worth looking at.

    Reply

    • jh
      March 31, 2016 @ 2:18 pm

      Hi Kieran, would like to contact – ‘jon harrison’ on facebk.

      Reply

  13. Barbara
    March 27, 2016 @ 11:01 pm

    Most people do the camino because it is the cheapest place in the world where you can combine in a holiday (or a trip), sports, touristic and historical activities, nature and social meetings….

    Reply

    • Tom Allen
      March 31, 2016 @ 5:17 am

      Perhaps some people think it is, and perhaps this motivates some of them to do it. It’s not actually true, though.

      Reply

  14. Sammy
    March 30, 2016 @ 5:29 pm

    Nobody has mentioned that the purpose of the walk was a pilgrimage (for religious reasons) nor the fact that the pilgrims walked both ways. The modern version of walking the Camino is to “prove” that one can do a long hike (big deal).

    Reply

  15. John Holly
    April 3, 2016 @ 3:03 am

    Lovely article. I was directed to this from a camino forum. On that forum fellow pilgrims are always talking about packing lists and other features of the camino. No matter how big their pack there is always one thing missing from a pilgrim’s backpack and that is an ego. We have all travelled it without asking other pilgrims what they do, how they live, what they earn etc. There is just a sense of brotherhood that other “big adventures” lack.

    Reply

  16. Sylvia
    April 13, 2016 @ 3:31 pm

    Well – its not reeeeely an adventure trail as such, is it? Its an adventure. Its mostly on a trail but where a long trek like the AT (or Pacific Crest) avoids villages, the Camino was established to lead pilgrims from one fortified, safe village to the next. Where the AT is a ‘nature’ trail, the Camino is like hiking through an open air museum of well preserved medieval monuments and soaring cathedrals. You can have one, or the other, but you can’t compare the one with the other. (I’ve walked to Santiago 9 times and plan on walking many more times.)

    Reply

  17. Sarah
    October 18, 2016 @ 4:33 am

    Just finished walking the Camino and I honestly have no desire to walk it again. I highly congratulate those who embark it and respect all who were touched by it, but I found it to be a pretentious walk full of people who had superiority issues due to the fact they thought they were being “purist pilgrims”. No such thing. We’re all modern day pilgrims. You could say I’m an “adventure snob” because I simply love to explore and discover things on my own; really be surprised by the the unexpected and meet people who love to experience travel the way I do. I found the Camino highly egotistical and artificial. I wanted to be touched by it and there were awesome sights, don’t get me wrong, and there were a few humble and lovely people too, but I cannot describe how eager I was to get the hell out of Santiago.

    Reply

  18. Prosaic
    March 14, 2017 @ 4:44 am

    I’m always surprised at the amount of discourse that is invested in defending or criticizing. If you want to do something that doesn’t harm another do it and to hell with what others might disagree. My wife loves the Camino while I prefer hiking the Appalachian Trail. So what?!?! We want different things!

    Reply

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