“I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.” – From Walking, by Henry David Thoreau (1862)
“Man’s real home is not a house, but the Road, and that life itself is a journey to be walked on foot.” ―From What Am I Doing Here, by Bruce Chatwin (1988)
In a few weeks I plan to follow the advice of Mr. Thoreau and Mr. Chatwin and walk the entire length of Spain!
My girlfriend J’Nell and I will be embarking on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage, a 500 mile hike that will take us from the Pyrenees Mountains in France all the way to the rocky coast of Spain at Muxia (after a very important stop at the Santiago de Compestella Cathedral). No car, no trains, no bikes, no busses, no scooters, no Segways … all of that mileage westward will be by foot. While thousands of people traverse this established route every year, it still seems more like something you talk about but never actually do.
We’re doing it!
I was granted a sabbatical from my job (a huge thank you to my boss Geri and Highgate Hotels), and during this leave of absence we will be in Europe for three months. We say a hui hou to Hawaii this Sunday and fly to San Francisco, where we’ll get to hang out with friends and visit our favorite places there. Our European adventure starts September 6th in Paris, my favorite city in the world.
After enjoying the City of Lights and its moveable feast, we’ll then head down via train to the medieval town of St. Jean Pied de Port in Basque Country, which is the start of the Camino de Santiago. We’re not sure exactly how long it will take us to complete our five hundred miles of walking, but we’re not in any hurry and want to savor the experience. There’s a very popular book we’ve been reading that has a 33 day schedule, but with our built in rest days for exploration, we’re estimating about 45.
Portugal will be next on our itinerary, and we have no reservations yet for accommodations nor any idea when we’ll get there or how long we’ll stay. From our research on that beautiful country, I’m sure we will not want to leave at all. Porto, Lisbon, Sintra, the Douro Valley, Lagos, and so many more wonderful places to see.
But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself here! First we have San Francisco, Paris, and the Camino de Santiago.
I’m not taking my laptop on this journey, but I’ll have my phone and hopefully some wifi along the way. I’m going to try to post at least something once a day, most likely just a photo and some short commentary on what I’ve seen.
While I’m sure I’ll also put some stuff on Facebook and Instagram as well, I’m going to purposely (and severely) restrict myself to both social media and the internet in general. After I had already decided to go on this 500 mile walkabout, I serendipitously read a great article on a guy who did a longer one in Japan and found bliss by (mostly) disconnecting himself from technology and immersing himself in the here and now. I want to (mostly) unplug and experience something similar.
But I do want to share what I’m doing with family, friends, and anyone interested in my travels! You can check back to the blog whenever you like, or else sign up to receive email updates for when I post (which of course you can always unsubscribe from whenever you like, or else ignore in your inbox). Thanks in advance for following along on the journey!
Happy journey to you! If you haven’t already heard about it, the Camino Forum can be helpful…caminodesantiago.me
My wife made a short slide show about our Camino…it is at my website, regspittle.com
I wish you the best.
Thanks so much, Reg!! I will definitely check out your Camino slide show and thanks for sharing!!
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You are far…what is the word I want? Braver?…No. Luckier? Uh-uh. Getting time off like that (and having the $$ to spend so long away) is amazing. The walking part I would have enjoyed when I could walk normally. But not knowing where you’ll stop and spend the night would be so worrisome to me. Where am i going to sleep? Where am I going to go to the bathroom? Where am I going to shower? Where and what am I going to eat? Etc would be on my mind all of the time. But you did it. You threw caution to the wind and off you went. I am anxious to see where your travels took you…
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Thanks! It’s funny …. I had friends that said I should have written more about the practical things like eating, going to the bathroom, showering … and I probably should have put more of that in there! Here’s some quick comments though on each: eating was almost never a problem, except for a handful of times when the distances between towns were very long. But normally there was always a cafe along the route to get something. Which leads into bathrooms….that was a worry before I left. But because there are cafes along the way, there were very few times I needed to utilize nature and that was only for #1. The showers were a mixed bag … I had heard horror stories of them, so I was expecting the worst. That wasn’t the case. There weren’t too many times they were cold, though you always showered quickly to be considerate unless you were in a private room that had it’s own bathroom.
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