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Reflections of a Pilgrim

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reflections-of-a-pilgrim

My journey on the Camino de Santiago

It was the year before I turned thirty, which may or may not have had something to do with it. I had known about this walk for more than ten years, but always thought it was an impossible daydream. I don't think anyone really thought I would go through with it - including myself - until I actually packed up my backpack and left.

This is not meant as a travel guide. It is simply my reflections, hindsight revelations and memories as I see them now - four and a half years later.

Join me on my walk through the north of Spain.

Photo: My husband, whom I in fact met on this walk, took this photo of me walking down the road one early morning. This, and all other photos in this article belong to me.

What is the Camino de Santiago? - A short introduction to The Way

Camino de Santiago, pilgrim

Camino de Santiago, pilgrim

Camino de Santiago is also known as the Way of St. James (or sometimes just The Way), as legend has it St. James was buried in Santiago de Compostela. A cathedral was built on the site of his grave, and in the Medieval Ages Christian pilgrims walked there to be forgiven for their sins.

There are several routes that lead to Santiago, the most popular being the Camino Frances (the French Way).

This route stretches 780 kilometers (about 500 miles) from St. Jean Pied-de-Port on the French side of the Pyrenees, then across the north of Spain to Santiago de Compostela, following the old Roman trade route to the Atlantic coast in the West. This westernmost point of Spain is known as Finisterre. Many pilgrims in fact choose keep walking after they reach Santiago, making Finisterre (meaning "the end of the world") their final destination.

The Camino Frances is the route I chose for my pilgrimage, and I started in St. Jean-Pied-de-Port on August 15, 2011.

From my research it seems like most fit people spend four weeks on this route if they don't take any days off. Six weeks is recommended if you really want to relax and enjoy it, or if you are not very fit.

Personally I decided to spend eight weeks! Not because I walk very slowly, but because I loved the freedom to stop wherever and whenever I wanted, really have a good look at the sights, and to truly experience it. Some days we walked only 5 to 10 kilometers, because we suddenly came across a cute little village and wanted to spend some time there.

I am glad I took my time, because there is so much to discover!

reflections-of-a-pilgrim

So why would I want to put myself through this?

When you ask a pilgrim why he or she is on the Camino, they may close up completely. A few may answer your question honestly, some will give you a brief, superficial answer, while others may simply stop talking. My answer when asked was always a shrug and "I heard about it ten years ago and wanted to do it ever since."

The first time I ever heard of the Camino I was 19, and home from school with the flu. I was watching television, when suddenly there was a program about a pilgrimage. I had heard of pilgrims before, of course, but it was a word I associated with the medieval age. It was new to me that people still were willing to leave their creature comforts behind and walk to a place they considered holy.

I listened with a longing in my heart as the route was explained. There was an interview with a man sitting under a tree with a book, who talked about the simple life of a pilgrim. It sounded magical. I started longing for something I had never even heard of before!

In hindsight I have discovered what is probably the biggest reason for my wanting to be a pilgrim. But I will not reveal it yet. You will have to stick with me until the end to find out!

reflections-of-a-pilgrim

From my journal

Day 2: Orisson - Roncesvalles

This is ridiculously simple and deliciously primitive! Placing one foot in front of the other, drinking water when I'm thirsty, eating something when I get hungry, stopping when I need to catch my breath. The fact that it's simple does not mean that it is easy, though. Already it is pretty hard. Crossing the Pyrenees with a 14 kilo backpack... Yes, I know that's too heavy. Other pilgrims seem to pass me all the time, but they all seem to be looking ahead rather than at the view - which is stunning! Green mountain tops that look like the backs of sleeping dinosaurs. Every crest and corner reveals a new view. I can see little houses in the distance. And everything is just green, green, green. I can hear the sound of bells from cows and goats and sheep and horses further up. I want to stay in this moment forever.

In the beginning there was a backpack - And the dream of a pilgrim-to-be

It is safe to say I devoured practically everything I came across that had something to do with the Camino. I read books, saw television programs, looked at photos online. The sight of a backpack in a travel shop made my heart skip a beat.

Slowly I started collecting things I might need, telling myself and others they were for travelling or hiking. My backpack doubled as a suitcase, a pair of mountain boots were "necessary" for walking the dog, and who doesn't need a lightweight sleeping bag and a sun hat with cooling crystals in the head band?

When finally I decided to do the walk I had most of the things I needed right there in my backpack!

Here are some books for you who also daydream about doing the walk - all these are on my own bookshelf.

Camino de Santiago, pilgrim

Camino de Santiago, pilgrim

And who would have thought....

I would fall in love on the Camino?

Throughout this article you will notice that I sometimes write "we", other times "I". This has a simple, yet beautiful explanation - which makes a lovely story all of its own. I set out on the Camino by myself, and intended to also finish it on my own. But along the way I met a man whom I fell in love with, and as luck would have it he also fell in love with me! With the exception of two days, we walked the whole Camino together. Some days we walked at different speeds, and therefore occasionally discovered things separately.

But we were always looking for the other one at every corner and hilltop, hoping to catch a small glimpse of each other.

pilgrim, Camino de Santiago

pilgrim, Camino de Santiago

The ground beneath your feet

A pilgrim's sigh...

At first it didn't matter to me what sort of ground I was walking on. But already after a few days I started noticing the difference between a soft path in the woods or on the grass, the crunch of my mountain boots against small pebbles or the crash against bigger ones, and the pounding against hard, unforgiving asphalt. Worst of all, however, seemed to be walking on the ancient Roman roads with big, fat blisters under the balls of my feet. As beautiful and fascinating those ancient roads were, I sometimes cursed them loudly...

I loved crossing the mountains. They usually meant there was a longer distance between villages, but the ground was often softer there. My shoes turned out to be too hot to wear in this climate (the temperature stayed in the 30's almost throughout the whole pilgrimage - which people said was unusually hot), and hot feet tend to blister. Hot feet apparently also makes blister patches melt into a sort of hard gel that gives you more blisters - so the ground made a huge difference in how painful walking was for me while this was at its worst.

If I can give you one valuable piece of advice, it is this: buy your shoes well in advance of the trip, and wear them as much as you can. Get to know them to avoid uncomfortable surprises while on the pilgrimage!

The guidebook commonly referred to as "The Bible"

The simple beauty of a sunrise

Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago

Somewhere along the way I stopped writing in my journal. I even started taking fewer photos. I reached a point where I for the first time in my life was truly living in the moment, rather than trying to capture the moment so that I could re-live it later.

I started to appreciate the actual walking. Little things like a raptor soaring in the clear blue sky high above us, or fresh bread with thick Spanish omelet and a glass of coca cola – suddenly these became the really BIG things. Every moment was filled with new impressions. New people, new landscapes, new architecture, new smells. Even walking in the rain – clammy underneath my rain jacket and my trousers soaked through – was all right.

Everything was broken down to the basic needs - food, water and a place to sleep for the night. Everything else was a bonus. The goal was no longer important. Or, the walk itself became the goal. Time slowed down and there was no rush to do anything. Only a few times did we get up particularly early to walk, following our long, thin shadows down the road. But when we did, the sunrise was always beautiful, always made us stop and stare back at the town or village we had just left, with the sun rising up behind it.

A light-hearted "guidebook" to the Camino de Santiago

We were lucky enough to meet Paul Huschilt and his friends in the Pyrenees and stayed in touch with them for a little while. He told us he was writing this book and I have been waiting impatiently for it to be published. Well, now it is here and I read the whole thing in two days.

pilgrim, Camino de Santiago

pilgrim, Camino de Santiago

Ultreya!

The Spanish word Ultreya means "Onward" and has traditionally been used by pilgrims to greet and encourage each other on the Camino. You will also hear "Buen Camino" a lot, both from locals and other pilgrims, wishing you a good pilgrimage.

I never had any doubt that I would make it the whole way. Not even when I found myself sitting on a bed at the Jesus y Maria pilgrim's hostel in Pamplona, too tired to get up and too tired to lie down. My whole body ached and I had blisters under my heels so thick they started to form new blisters of their own! This may have been very arrogant of me, but I also believe it was this stubbornness that made it possible for me to push myself and walk ever onwards.

Ultreya!

Camino de Santiago, pilgrim

Camino de Santiago, pilgrim

How about you?

Yes, purple is my favourite colour...

Yes, purple is my favourite colour...

Creag and Morwenna - And their music

We met Creag and Morwenna in Galicia - he was carrying a guitar, she a harp on her back. We talked briefly at a crossroads, discussing which way to go, as our guide books did not offer any guidence and there were no signs. We eventually turned left, and soon discovered the familiar yellow arrow that assured us we were on the right track. Later that night we stayed in a hostel in Las Angustias, where the rooms were built around an 18th Century church. There, Creag and Morwenna played for us, and the sounds of their harp and guitar was so beautiful it moved me to tears. I feel so lucky to have been there!

In this video they show their own photos from the Camino, accompanied by their music.

Attending pilgrims' mass at the Santiago Cathedral.

Attending pilgrims' mass at the Santiago Cathedral.

Arriving in Santiago de Compostela

I expected to arrive Santiago with a big cheer and my chest swelling with pride and happiness. But truth be told, I think we both were filled with mixed and conflicting feelings as we walked those final steps onto the big square in front of the Cathedral.

We were there. It was over. That was it.

As much as I was looking forward to coming home to my friends and family, to give them all the presents I had collected along the way, show them photos and tell them about the walk (not to mention showing off how much weight I had lost) I just couldn't shake this one feeling: I didn't want it to be over!

Of course, for us a big part of the ambivalence came from knowing that we would soon have to say goodbye to each other. Being from opposite sides of the world (Norway and Australia), there was no way of knowing when - or if - we would get to meet again.

However, I am excited to let you know that this of course ended very well, and we are now married and living together in Melbourne, Australia. In 2015 we also welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world, and our happiness is now complete. The lesson from the Camino has stayed with us, and we are enjoying every (wakeful) moment with our son. Our dream is to take him with us and walk the Camino again when he gets older.

This photo is taken at the pilgrim's mass we attended in the Santiago Cathedral.

Online resources on the Camino de Santiago

  • Camino Adventures
    This is a terrific site for planning your pilgrimage. It provides you with all the information you need, including maps, a packing list, and recommendations on guide books. I really wish I knew about this site before I planned my own journey.
  • Camino Forums
    A forum where you can ask questions and read about other people's experiences and advice. You can also meet people here who are planning on walking at the same time as you. I learned quite a few things here that I was grateful for on my pilgrimage.
  • The Confraternity of Saint James
    The Confraternity of St. James is a pilgrim's association, based in London, England. They publish guidebooks on the Camino and you can buy your credential (pilgrim's passport) from their website.
reflections-of-a-pilgrim

The revelation

I promised earlier that I would tell you my reason for going on a pilgrimage. It did not occur to me until I came back from the Camino, and had a look at all the things I owned. Suddenly it felt like all these things owned me, and I felt claustrophobic in my own home. I have always been a collector of many things, and had a hard time letting go of them.

I suddenly remembered Orietta's words from the hostel in Viloria (quoted above), and discovered she was right. What attracted me to do the pilgrimage in the first place, I realised, was the simplicity. The thought of only owning what I could carry on my back. Any unnecessary item literally weighs you down and makes it harder to move forward.

This is the reality in life as well - only not as immediately obvious. This revelation has changed my life, and will continue to influence me for the rest of my days.

Thank you for reading!

You don't choose a life, you live one. - Camino de Santiago on DVD

The proof

Camino de Santiago, compostela

Camino de Santiago, compostela

This is my compostela, the certificate pilgrims receive at the pilgrim's office in Santiago de Compostela as proof that they have walked the pilgrimage. It is written in Latin (even with a Latin form of your name), and it was stamped and rolled up into a paper tube for my safekeeping.

I received it with a feeling of pride unlike anything I have experienced before, and one thought in my head: "If I can do this, I can do anything!"

© 2013 Aibrean82

Before you go, I would love to hear about the best travel experience you have had - Or you could just say hello...

Colleen on April 06, 2017:

Loved reading your story. Am looking forward to my own pilgrimage and this was an inspiration. Blessings.

Gail Delahunt on June 28, 2016:

Come across to your blog, it really is a enjoyable article and nice photos! I love going on the Camino. Check out my experience here: https://www.followthecamino.com/blog/2015/09/25/ga...

Buen Camino

Spirality on April 22, 2014:

I want to try this one day in the future.

Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on March 16, 2014:

I think you've told it like it is. I think I wouldn't have been able to keep going with the blisters, but I know I would have loved the serenity and the nature. Glad you were able to make your dream come true.

evawrites1 on February 18, 2014:

I loved seeing your pictures. I have been to Santiago but not to the camino. Congratulations!

savateuse on February 08, 2014:

I have thought about this walk several times. I'd love to do it. Thanks for sharing your inspirational journey!

tonyleather on February 07, 2014:

What a fascinating lens, about a journey I would not personally undertake, but all the same found interesting!

Aibrean82 (author) on February 04, 2014:

@susan369: All how-we-met stories are romantic, and I know several who met their spouses on the internet. But I do love our story and that we have this big journey in common. And I love that something like eating a mango can start off a conversation beginning with "Remember in Sarria when we ate a mango in that hostel kitchen, and you didn't know I was secretly watching you from across the table?" :)

susan369 on February 04, 2014:

I know someone who did this not long ago. I might have done it in my 20's. I'm afraid I wouldn't do it now - I like my creature comforts too much (shame on me)! It's awesome that you met your fiance on this trip! So romantic! I met my hubby on the Internet - how pathetic is that in comparison, LOL?

Rhonda Albom from New Zealand on January 29, 2014:

I have a friend who is doing this later in the year and another who started from the same point as you did in France a few years ago. We actually were in Santiago de Compostela on St. James Day in 2012, but we were not pilgrims. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story.

Aibrean82 (author) on November 09, 2013:

@Joebeducci: It is a wonderful experience, in the true sense of the word. I do recommend it, as you can probably guess.

Thank you very much for reading!

Joebeducci on November 08, 2013:

This is such a cool lens! I know several people that did this, so I definitely want to do it once to! Greets, Joebeducci

EntrepBeings on August 16, 2013:

Thank you for sharing the experience! So inspiring! And a good read indeed! Thank you!

Aibrean82 (author) on August 14, 2013:

@KateFeredayEshete: That sounds like an incredible experience and how wonderful to share it with a friend!

I would love to do some more walks, as well as repeating this one. We actually saw a man with a donkey to carry his pack, and thought "Maybe next time..."

Thank you for reading, and for taking the time to comment!

Kate Fereday Eshete from United Kingdom on August 13, 2013:

Thank you for sharing this with us. It's a lovely read - with a happy ending! I did a 500-mile walk across the Ethiopian Highlands with an Ethiopian friend in 1999-2000. I kept a journal and forced myself to write it up often, even though I was tired and didn't want to be bothered sometimes. Now, I'm very glad I did, because as the years go by, memories fade. I didn't take masses of photographs (in those days I carried rolls of film) but it was good to record our journey. i didn't have any music with me but sang songs along the way. I wore walking sandals and had no blisters at all. Dinky Donkey carried most of our things. Because the country folk in remote places were suspicious of us, we would often say we were on a pilgrimage, and they could relate to that. The Camino de Santiago does look beautiful. Perhaps one day... But with a donkey, walking sandals and no music player!

Aibrean82 (author) on August 08, 2013:

@flycatcherrr: Yes, that is my theory also. Photos and journal entries can never truly capture details like smells or how you are feeling in that exact moment. I came to realize I prefer being able to take everything in while in the moment, rather than being half in the moment, half in the future when I will be looking back at it.

Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment!

flycatcherrr on August 08, 2013:

Somehow it seems wrong to be consumed with envy for somebody else's pilgrimage, but you're done such a wonderful job of bringing this trip to life, it's hard not to want to follow in your footsteps (as it were). I found it particularly interesting that you stopped writing in your journal and took fewer photographs after a certain point, "in the moment" rather than recording it to re-live afterwards. Do you think (my theory) the experience is fixed more strongly in your mind when you are relying on memory rather than aide-mmoire?

Aibrean82 (author) on August 02, 2013:

@darkflowers: Thank you for reading :)

Anja Toetenel from The Hague, the Netherlands on August 02, 2013:

Very interesting Lens Pilgrim and I am in love with your photos, they are great! I loved reading about your first hand experiences! Thank you for this beautiful Lens!

Aibrean82 (author) on July 28, 2013:

@idealshedplans: Thank you :)

idealshedplans on July 27, 2013:

What an inspiring adventure loved your story thanks for sharing

Aibrean82 (author) on June 14, 2013:

@Amanda_Revel: Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed it .)

Aibrean82 (author) on June 14, 2013:

@ErickMiller: Thank you, I'm glad!

Aibrean82 (author) on June 14, 2013:

@blestman lm: Absolutely :) Thanks for reading!

Aibrean82 (author) on June 14, 2013:

@wildbluefrontier: That's definitely true! Thank you :)

Amanda_Revel on June 03, 2013:

Awesome lens, I really enjoyed reading it. Well Done.

ErickMiller on June 02, 2013:

Great lens Aibrean82 i really enjoyed reading

blestman lm on May 26, 2013:

Great article. It was definitely an experience to cherish.

Nathan M from Tucson on May 20, 2013:

Wonderful article. One of those life experiences you'll never forget.

Aibrean82 (author) on May 15, 2013:

@Erin Mellor: We met a lot of people doing it on a bike. In parts of the way it seemed like a better choice, other parts it seemed very difficult. I would love to try it on a bike, but not sure I have the strength and patience to push it uphill... I admire the ones who do!

Erin Mellor from Europe on May 04, 2013:

I cycled the Camino in 2003, it was a wonderful experience, and like you, I found it was a great way to let go of much of what was weighing me down.

Aibrean82 (author) on May 01, 2013:

@Ruthi: I think it is the best way to enjoy the Camino - taking your time. Provided one has the time, of course... Falling in love along the way was a lovely surprise :)

Ruthi on May 01, 2013:

Oh my, thank you for sharing your pilgrimage and showing me 'The Way'! I think it great that you took the extra time to enjoy the journey. I enjoyed the fact that this is a love story too!

Aibrean82 (author) on April 30, 2013:

@WriterJanis2: Thank you.

WriterJanis2 on April 30, 2013:

Pinning this.

Aibrean82 (author) on April 28, 2013:

@siobhanryan: Ha ha, I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing...

siobhanryan on April 28, 2013:

Superb-at times I could feel the blisters

Aibrean82 (author) on April 21, 2013:

@Elyn MacInnis: That sounds amazing. I wish you all the best for your pilgrimage!

Elyn MacInnis from Shanghai, China on April 21, 2013:

My husband and I are going on a pilgrimage to Hiroshima soon - we are taking photos my Dad took after the war to present them to the Peace Museum. I think pilgrimages are a wonderful thing to do - your description of your pilgrimage is so wonderful.

Aibrean82 (author) on April 20, 2013:

@stephen downing: We both would love to do it again, together :)

Aibrean82 (author) on April 20, 2013:

@Bartukas: Thank you for reading :)

Aibrean82 (author) on April 17, 2013:

@sheilamarie78: We probably walked around 5-7 hours a day, but we took several long(-ish) breaks during the day. And we also took about five days off in total, to get complete rest and to have a proper look around the different places. I hope you get the chance to do it someday! You can do parts of it, if you don't feel up to doing the whole thing. Thanks for reading :)

Sheilamarie from British Columbia on April 16, 2013:

I would love to do this one day, even though I have bad legs. How many hours a day did you walk, taking the slow eight weeks?

Bartukas on April 16, 2013:

Really great lens it sounds very nice! thanks for sharing

stephen downing on April 08, 2013:

Hi, it sounds great! but would you do it again? I imagine it is a once in a lifetime experience. But joking aside, I really can understand how the thought of doing the journey just keeps niggling away inside your head and heart.

The best part is the happy ending to that journey, and the start of a new journey through life together.

step2mai on March 28, 2013:

I love to travel one day to spin to see my soccer team Real Madrid.

GeekGirl1 on March 26, 2013:

thank you for sharing.

Aibrean82 (author) on March 26, 2013:

@Klaartje Loose: It really is the BEST feeling!

Klaartje Loose on March 26, 2013:

Oh yes, walking a trail step bu step makes you living in the moment and I LOVE it... Had this experience trekking in The Himalayas and plan to do a lot more trails in the future.

Great lens, thanks for sharing.

Aibrean82 (author) on March 23, 2013:

@NC Shepherd: I would love to do the Appalachian Trail! Thank you for reading :)

NC Shepherd on March 22, 2013:

I can so totally relate to your experience. It was the same for me on the Appalachian Trail. I really, really want to walk the Camino! Thank you for writing this lens.

Aibrean82 (author) on March 21, 2013:

@JoanieMRuppel54: That sounds awesome! :)

Joanie Ruppel from Keller, Texas on March 20, 2013:

Wow, I really enjoyed reading about your pilgrimage. I'm happy you did it, but do not think I am as adventurous as you. One of my favorite travel experiences was on a Greek/turkish sailboat cruise. We spent the day on the beach in Turkey and I went out and floated in the very salty Aegean Sea. Since it was effortless to do, my mind wondered and it was like I had a view of the world map and there was little me, just floating in the sea! Congrats on LOTD, very well deserved.

Karamerica on March 20, 2013:

I would like to do this someday! Thx!

norma-holt on March 19, 2013:

Congrats on LOTD and a well done documentary. It must have been quite a hike.

Aibrean82 (author) on March 19, 2013:

@justramblin: Thank you so much! I am very flattered :)

justramblin on March 19, 2013:

How did I miss your big (Lens of the) day? When I first saw your lens I knew it was destined to be! Belated congrats to you! and Hooray! Well deserved,

Nnadi bonaventure Chima from Johanesburg on March 19, 2013:

Interesting place ,nice lens .Thanks for sharing

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@happynutritionist: I'm so glad you got something out of reading my lens! And thank you for your wonderful compliment, it made me smile :)

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@MiaMusement: Coelho's book is definitely worth a read! Thank you for reading and commenting :)

MiaMusement on March 18, 2013:

I was intrigued by Shirley MacLaine's account years ago, but I didn't know about Coelho's book. Thanks for the heads up, and I'll definitely check that out. I got "chicken skin" reading about you finding love along your path. Cool beans!

happynutritionist on March 18, 2013:

What a wonderful adventure...I enjoyed traveling along as I read, and then hopped over to your lens on what to pack on this trip and found something I need...you have a wonderful gift for writing about your travels...and the tips for packing were great! Congratulations on receiving LOTD!

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@Anna2of5: Thank you so much, you are very kind! Less blisters sounds good ;) Thank you for reading and sharing!

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@Michey LM: Thank you for that big compliment! :)

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@GrammieOlivia: I was so impressed by that incenser! Thank you :)

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@Anna2of5: It is very touching that your daughter chose to keep those exact items :)

When Orietta said that thing to me, I felt it really hit me hard. I could not stop thinking about it for the rest of the day, and every now and then still I stop and think about it again. That short, little sentence made me change the way I was thinking and acting - and she may never know it!

GrammieOlivia on March 18, 2013:

This was a great read. I have been to the Cathedral of St. James and that Incencer is huge! Very very rewarding trip. Congrats, on LofTD! Great story!

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@athomemomblog: What a journey! And what a happy ending :) I hope you get the chance to take your sons to the Camino - it would definitely be a bonding experience and something your boys would never forget! :)

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@anonymous: Oh, that sounds just wonderful! I would love to that, too! Thank you for commenting, I love hearing about other peoples travel experiences :)

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@RawBill1: That sounds like some journey! I will definitely check out that lens. Enjoy your next adventure and have a great Easter. I love Melbourne (though perhaps I am a little biased, since I live here)!

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@HalloweenRecipes: Thank you, and I'm glad to hear it!

ReviewWriting on March 18, 2013:

That was a great read.

Mary Stephenson from California on March 18, 2013:

Congratulations on LOTD. Sounds like you had a very interesting journey.

Bill from Gold Coast, Australia on March 18, 2013:

What a great adventure! Congrats on LOTD, it is well deserved. My best travel experience was in 97/98 when I went around the world for six months. I started off in the USA, working in a ski resort, then travelled across the country to New York, flew to the UK where we did quite a few miles, then to China and back to Australia. I have a Lens about it. I am setting off this weekend on another adventure, this time over 5000 kms on my motorbike and will be visiting Melbourne where all my family live for Easter. My 2 wheeled pilgrimage!

HalloweenRecipes on March 18, 2013:

Congratulations on LoTD and for sharing your wonderful walk with me. I've enjoyed it very much.

Genesis Davies from Guatemala on March 18, 2013:

I would LOVE to take my sons on Camino de Santiago. It would be such a bonding experience and I think they would really enjoy it. I think we'll wait til the baby is big enough to walk though. ;)

When I was 22, I left Canada with pretty much nothing but what I could carry in a backpack, no plan to return. I ended up in Guatemala many weeks later, after meandering down through the US and Mexico by bus. It was amazing and 11 years later, I still live in Guatemala!

anonymous on March 18, 2013:

Your journey is very inspiring. I once travelled to France and hiked up to a monastery. They harvested lavender in the field surrounding them. It was one of the most memorable and most beautiful experiences of my life.

Genesis Davies from Guatemala on March 18, 2013:

When I was 22, I sold nearly all my belongings and took what I could fit in a backpack and headed out from Canada with no real plan to return. It was, without a doubt, the most incredible thing I could have done. I bused from Vancouver to Guatemala and 11 years later, I'm still here and have 3 children with the man I met here.

I would LOVE to take my sons on Camino de Santiago. It would be such a bonding experience and I think they would really enjoy it. I think we'll wait til the baby is big enough to walk though. ;)

eccles1 on March 18, 2013:

Beautiful lens! I love the movie 'The Way'

Anna2of5 on March 18, 2013:

Also for some reason the statement by the lady from the hostel made me tear up a bit. And yes less stuff is freeing perhaps for different times of life. With three children they have some things for comfort and security in little ways that don't take up a lot of room but are very important to them at this time in their lives. (My daughter is downsizing, prepping to leave the nest, I think it was harder on me than her overall, it surprised me seeing the items she wants me to keep for safekeeping when I remember placing these very same items on a shelf before she was even born-prepping for her arrival over 18 years ago with such clarity.

Michey LM on March 18, 2013:

Great read and music... it was like I was there with you... Thanks

Faye Rutledge from Concord VA on March 18, 2013:

Congratulations on LotD!!

Anna2of5 on March 18, 2013:

Best travel experience is hard to peg down I've had a few. Being in London, England was lovely, I always enjoy visiting Bayview, (near Petosky, Michigan). I loved how you put a little something for each photograph you chose to show here. It really added to the experience. Also the music and video did also. Thank you for sharing your journey, and so glad your walking companion chose to walk alongside for longer. I wish you two the best kinds of journeys, hopefully with less blisters overall.

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@DebMartin: That really sounds amazing!

DebMartin on March 18, 2013:

I've enjoyed this experience with you. A good read. The best travel experience I've had personally are my solo canoe trips to the Northern Canadian wilderness.

Vikki from US on March 18, 2013:

Beautiful and brilliant lens. Thanks for sharing your story!

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@game-cheats: Me too, and I especially love taking them :)

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@aka-rms: Thank you so much! I am really flattered and still a little shocked :)

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@betta addict: Wow, thank you! That is a huge compliment!

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@aesta1: Sounds great! Maybe you can do parts of the journey, if you're not sure about doing the whole thing?

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@Diana Wenzel: Thank you for your lovely comment! All the best to you :)

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@kimmanleyort: Being able to strip life down to its most basic needs really helps you to experience things you would otherwise be too busy to notice. I think this is where the transformation comes in :)

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@surfsusan: Sounds great! It is a lifestyle I would be happy to embrace :)

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@Thrinsdream: Thank you! We met some people with dogs along the way, and they seemed to be doing well :)

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@captainj88: I think it would be! Thank you for commenting :)

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@dimitry168: I am not especially fit, and carry some extra kilos, but I made it - and met a lot of less fit people on the walk as well. As long as you do it at your own pace, it is possible for most people to do this :)

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@walkingstick: I really want to do a walk in Ireland! I lived there for six months when I was 25, but were too busy studying.

I need to toughen my feet a bit before my next walk...

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@BarbaraCasey: Thank you for this lovely comment. That freedom feels so wonderful!

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@Bucaner: Yes, and I lost a lot of weight on this walk!

Aibrean82 (author) on March 18, 2013:

@writerkath: Oh, I would love to go cycling in New Zealand, too!