The Camino de Santiago (the way of Santiago) or, the Way of St. James in English, is one of the core Christian pilgrimages to the remains of a saint famous for slaughtering Turks – guaranteed sanctity back in the old days.
The route stretches from the French Pyrenees to the town of Santiago in Galicia, Western-most Spain and draws plenty of Christians, pagans who reckon that it’s an ancient fertility rite (certainly the Romans also walked the route) and your average roadjunky with no better idea of how to spend a few weeks or months.
It’s recommended to start on the French side of the Pyrenees if only because the walk over the mountains is spectacular. To start, you need to head off to the nearest tourist office to get a compostela, your pilgrim’s passport – this gets you entrance to all the monastery dormitories along the way where you can stay for just a few euros. Food’s cheap, too and walking the Camino de Santiago is probably one of the economical ways you could pass a month or two in Europe – provided you don’t get too loaded at the bars on route (although in Spain you get free tapas with each beer).
The route is partly spectacular, partly tedious beyond belief with endless wheat fields or accompanying highways. Some people are sticklers for walking every last inch but you’ll remember the pilgrimage more fondly if you take a bus for the boring bits. You’ll still get your name announced in the mass when you reach the cathedral in Santiago – and have all your sins wiped clean as a result.
For a comprehensive guide to making the Santiago Pilgrimage check out: