The first time I read about the Camino, was in Gourmet magazine in 2009. At the time, it appealed to me as a romantic idea of walking across the north of Spain eating great food and drinking delicious local wine while meeting people from all over the world. It stayed a dream until now. A few years later, my husband and I watched the documentary film Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago. On our way home from the movie, I mentioned the article from a few years before and we decided we would definitely walk the Camino one day…soon. It has been a few years and in that time we have also seen the movie The Way as well as spoken to several pilgrims who have cherished their Caminos.
The Camino de Santiago is the name of any of the many pilgrimage routes to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain. It is believed that the remains of Saint James are buried there. The pilgrimage routes actually continue past Santiago to the Atlantic coast ending at Cape Finisterre. Cape Finisterre is Spain’s westernmost point. The Romans called it Finisterrae, literally, the end of the world. According to a medieval legend, the Milky Way was formed from the dust raised by traveling pilgrims. Compostela translates to field of stars. We will navigate our trek by day, not by the stars.
There are many routes to Santiago. The largest percentage of pilgrims follow the Camino Francés. That route begins in France, crosses the Pyrenees Mountains and traverses northern Spain. The Caminho Portugués, begins in Lisbon and heads north following the coast north through the country for approximately 400 miles. This route dates back to the Middle Ages. It follows many of the old Roman trade routes and is one of the oldest routes in Europe. It has become the second most popular camino route. Queen Isabel of Portugal (1271 – 1336) followed this route to complete a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Because of her pilgrimage, it is also referred to as the Royal route.
We have decided to take the Caminho Portugués. However, we are making some adaptations. For us, the hike itself is the main attraction. This will be recreational, spiritual and a gastronomic adventure. We will forge our own route between Lisbon and Porto. Mostly because some magical towns and fishing villages are calling us. From Porto we will follow the yellow arrows and scallop shells to Santiago, Finisterre and Muxia.
It is customary for pilgrims to greet each other on the Camino by saying “Buen Camino” in Spain or “Bom Caminho” in Portugal.
Bom Caminho Pilgrims!