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Spain (Way of Saint James)

The Camino de Santiago, known in English as The Way of Saint James among other names is a network of pilgrims' ways serving pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many follow its routes as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth. It is also popular with hiking and cycling enthusiasts and organized tour groups.  (Quelle: Wikipedia)
For over 1,000 years, pilgrims have traipsed wearily across the plains and mountains of the Iberian peninsula to pay homage at the shrine of St James in Spain's northwestern city of Santiago de Compostela. The Camino de Santiago is one of the world’s most famous long-distance walks, and these days it’s still as popular as ever. You don’t have to be religious to make this journey, though. As you tread the storied route, you may well encounter many of the faithful, but you’re equally as likely to meet a diverse mix of hikers, cyclists and horse riders, or just those on some kind of personal journey.
 

Spain: Walking the Camino de Santiago


Some years ago I had the idea to walk the Camino Santiago Compostela which is a pilgrimage walk from St. Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. This walk is often described as a journey for the spirit and soul – a walk that crosses the foothills of the Pyrenees and finishes in Santiago de Compostela, enjoying the lush green valleys of Galicia, the immense plains of Sierra de Campos, as well as great cities such as Burgos, Leon, Pamplona and Santiago along the way. The Camino de Santiago isn't one single route: there are several Caminos crisscrossing Spain, all converging in holy Santiago. And while some of the less obvious routes are becoming steadily more popular, the most famous is still the Camino Francés that traverses northern Spain for 790km, taking around one month to complete. Walking the Camino is not difficult – most of the stages are fairly flat on good paths. The main difficulty is that few of us have walked continuously for 10, 20 or 30 days. You learn more about your feet than you would ever have thought possible.
I did not read much to prepare, but I liked the famous German book from the author 'Kerkeling' which I read one week before I started. Which made me realize that the way may be the same, but the experiences of the pilgrims are fundamentally different. That everyone has to learn what is written for him, that everyone is on the search, but all find answers somewhere else.
I could not imagine walking the entire distance on my own until halfway through my path. If someone asked me if I wanted to walk it completely, I could only refer to God's will. Overwhelmed by my physical capacity, I grew beyond my limitations and became small at the same time. I walked until my body broke down, I was clearly addicted to the kick of a thousand steps.
As difficult as the path is to walk, the pilgrim carries the true burden within himself. The path frees you from your inner deamons with each step, for yourself, for the new and for your life. It  turns you upside down and wants to be continued to live in you, to be taken into the world.
In the meantime I have also walked the Camino Primitivo in addition to the Camino Francés. I have walked over 1,400 kilometers on foot through Spain and have learned to appreciate the unique infrastructure of the Caminos. You do not have to care about food, water or accommodation, everything is available in a variety of choices. All you have to do is to hike and to enjoy.
This was one of the most amazing journeys of my life, not only did I immensely enjoy the physical side of the walking, but the conversations I had, the friends I made along the way, the wine I drank, the fits of laughter and the sometimes absurdity of the journey was beyond words. I loved this camino so much I continued walking twice to Finisterre and Muxia, making the total of kilometres walked over about five weeks to 1000.

Here is a list of the former travel stories:

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