A Nice Path: The Way of Saint James
For this week, we would like to tell you how we lived one of the most special journeys in our life and we think that this is something worth for you to know. In Western World, pilgrimages are not very usual nowadays. In Europe you can enjoy beautiful and famous pilgrimages as Lourdes in France, Fátima in Portugal and Assis in Italy, but probably, the most famous and recognized pilgrimage is the one taking place in Spain on the way to Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of Apostle Santiago are located in Santiago’s Cathedral. This week, we would like to explain to you why this wonderful journey and spiritual experience is something unique, and it could be ideal to make it alone or in groups to discover this beautiful part of the country.
There are multiple routes to make the Road to Santiago from every region of Spain, but the north of Spain gathers a great number of them. Indisputably, the most famous one is the French Way (Camino Frances), which is the one we are going to talk about today. From the mountains of the Pyrenees to Santiago, you can choose where to start from, but in this article, we are going to share with you our last experience walking El Camino (The Way of Saint James).
We started from Sarria, which is a very popular starting point because it is the place to start the minimum length to be certified as a Pilgrim. You also have to know that every day that you finish a stage you get a Pilgrim Seal, and when you complete the Path, you are certified as a Pilgrim. If you know us, you probably know that we didn’t make the way of Saint James from the traditional point of view, having to walk all the way loaded with bags and having to sleep in the traditional pilgrim shelters. We decided to enjoy an alternative luxury route where you can stay in boutique hotels and all your luggage will be carried from one hotel to the next for you to enjoy The Way with no worries.
As we commented before, one of the most popular parts of El Camino is the way leading from Sarria to Santiago, with a distance of around 100km (62 miles). We went through small villages and towns like Portomarín, Palas de Rei, Melide or Arzúa, where we could taste typical products from the area as cheese or Iberian ham. During the journey, we had everything planned. Normally, pilgrims have to book the shelters and share sleeping accommodations and bathrooms with other pilgrims. In our case, we enjoyed top accommodations in the most beautiful hotels, pazos or country houses in the area. Once we finished a stage, a van was waiting for us to take us to a nearby town or village where the hotel was located.
The hotels we visited during the Path were fantastic. Although this area is not characterized by having big resorts, the ones we stayed in were absolutely charming. The typical houses around Galicia are known as “pazos” and are the stars in these kind of accomodations. This is a travel for enjoying small rural hotels, so don’t doubt on choosing them because they are ideal to relax and spend a good time before start walking the next day.
During our stay, we had the chance to enjoy a relaxing time at the spa, as some of the hotels offered us this possibility. This is a really good way to get ready for the next day and start the walk nicely. Some other advantages of making the VIP Camino de Santiago, are the charming picnics in quiet beautiful areas in the mid way to our destination every time we wanted during the route to Santiago or the visit to farms and wineries were we learn more about local products and its owners. We also counted with one of our guides who stayed with us the whole week, explaining every single detail and the most relevant features of every town and village we stayed in, so our trip was not only a pilgrimage but a nice and exclusive tour where we could see precious landscapes and mixed nature, gastronomy and culture.
But you may wonder what does this Way of Saint James have of singular. Why do such a great amount of people make El Camino de Santiago? Of course, some of them decide to walk el Camino for religious sentiment, to look for themselves in a kind of spiritual retreat to connect with nature and be able to be quiet for a time. But, leaving aside the religious part, the landscapes and sights that you can find through the Northern area of Spain are astonishing as the bridges over the Miño river, which are a constant all over the Path. For us, it was amazing to re-discover that part of Spain. We knew it was famous and thousands of people make it every year, but it absolutely worths the effort. Medieval villages, ancient stone bridges, amazing landscapes and forests… all of this is to be found during this trip. And the great ending to the Way of Saint James could not be other that arriving Santiago and contemplating the breathtaking Obradoiro Square where you can find the Santiago de Comppostela Cathedral. It is the final reward to such an effort like this and makes you feel absolutely complete. Finally, once the bodies have rested for a while, there is one last thing that cannot be missed; a guided tour through the city and its Market to find special corners and taste the Galician food in its capital.
As a conclusion, we think this is an ideal trip to discover nature and amazing spots hidden in Galicia. Exploring the Way of Saint James (El Camino de Santiago) with the comfort of not having to carry all your belongings with you and being able to make it your own way, is an opportunity to take. So, if you love hiking and visiting nature, you can discover Galicia this way and get certified as a Pilgrim once you arrive the Obradoiro Square. Tell us how you want to do it and we will set everything ready for you.