Top reads for get you ready for a Camino
If you are considering one of our Camino pack-free guided walks these Camino travel memoirs will get you in the mood.
Camino: A Journey of the Spirit, Shirley MacLaine “I am a Taurus, and therefore a person who accumulates things. I immediately understood this journey would be an examination of what was essential to me. ‘The road and her energy will provide all you need,’ Anna told me. ‘She will tell you what to throw away — and you will become humble as a result. You will see what a temple your body really is, that it is not a prison, and you will discover your essence.’ She told me I would find a stick to walk with. It would speak to me as though it would want to help. My feet would derive energy from the ground itself, which is why it is infinitely better to walk than to ride the Camino in a vehicle. I would receive messages from the path as though it was talking to me, until I became the path and all of its history.”
Walking Home, Sonia Choquette: “The rain was coming down in sheets, sideways, as I made my way down the Rue de Citadelle, toward the route de Napoleon and the beginning of the Pyrenees route of the Camino. I wondered if it would even be more difficult to climb in the rain. “Well, I’ll soon find out,” I said as I head straight for it. While yesterday I had debated whether or not to walk over the Pyrenees, this morning my body in that direction and started walking.”
Call of the Camino, Mullen Robert: “Coffee and croissants were waiting for us in the kitchen, along with a weather forecast. Continued bad weather was expected, and poor visibility, and we were advised to avoid the higher pass and keep to the valley route. Park was nevertheless determined to stick to his original plan and attempt the more difficult mountain track.
‘Don’t worry, brother. God will look after me, God or an angel.’
At the door of the refuge, before putting up our hoods, we shook hands and wished each other well. The exit from the town, appropriately enough, was through the Porte d’Espagne, after which yellow arrows painted on the pavement and on rocks would mark the turnings. It felt good to be underway at last, even if most of the twenty-seven kilometres that had to be walked that day would be uphill.”
The Day Was Made for Walking, Noel Braun: “I was shit-scared. My heart was pounding. My guts ached. I could smell my own sweat. I was in legendary Le Puy-en-Velay in the Haute Loire France and stood in the porch of the cathedral Notre Dame de Puy, striking in its dominance. I looked past the ancient town below, beyond the modern city to the surrounding mountain ridges and imagined over the horizon that Santiago and Saint James were beckoning.
I glanced down the long daunting flight of steps. I could think of no valid reason to delay, so, before I lost my nerve, I took my first wobbly step into the unknown. I’d received my pilgrim’s blessing at the Pilgrims’ Mass where I prayed for St James’ protection.
With pack on my back, and pilgrim shell attached, I walked down the narrow street. A plaque announced that I was passing the spot where was born the Via Podiensis, the great route of pilgrimage towards Santiago de Compostela. A signpost indicated 1521 kilometres to go.
Only 1521 kilometres!”
The Camino Way, Victor Prince: “The Camino provided a new, unexpected laboratory for me to learn about leadership. Every day presented new challenges that I had to manage through. I met dozens of hikers from around the world and got to learn about their careers.
The Camino also provided time for inner reflection. The many social moments with other hikers were separated by long stretches of alone time. I found myself recalling interactions and decisions I had made over my last several years of work, and my mind focused on what I wished I could redo. I started to imagine how I would have done things differently if I’d had the benefit of the Camino lessons I was now learning.”
Sinning Across Spain, Ailsa Piper: “Sin is a kick-to-the-stomach word. Hard. Two consonants separated by a thin, hungry vowel. Even though there are less challenging terms, like crime, transgression or offence, ‘sin’ persists, and not just inside churches. It’s a favourite of advertisers and comedy writers as well as preachers, because it packs a punch. Everyone reacts to it. I certainly did. But I was not sure I believed in it as a concept, let alone in carrying it. I was not even sure if I believed in a god. Faith eluded me. Research told me that the coming year was a Holy Year, meaning pilgrims arriving in Santiago de Compostela would receive what the Catholic Church called a ‘plenary indulgence’—the removal of all punishment for sins committed up to that point. A quarter of a million were expected to walk the Camino Francés, more than double the norm. Presumably only faith and the idea of absolution would make anyone choose to be part of such a pilgrim traffic jam.”