Monday, May 13, 2013

There's Traveling, and then There's Traveling

     Jeez, it's Monday already!

     B and I don't do a whole lot of traveling, at least not by the standards of many of my blogging friends (hello Bob Lowry, Stephen Hayes, Linda Myers and others!). And when B and I do go on a journey, it's usually by car. To Hilton Head, SC, for example, where we vacationed for a week in April. Or Pennsylvania, for Christmas. Or Cape Cod, where we're decamping for a week in July.

     But my sister is a traveler. She and her husband flew in this past weekend from Phoenix, after making a stop in Washington, DC, and on their way to a reunion of old friends in Boston. They're also planning a trip for July, they tell us, to get away from the Phoenix heat. They're driving to Santa Barbara, then Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, where they're renting a place in the city for a couple of weeks.

     But that's just their run-of-the-mill traveling. The real trip they're planning is a pilgrimage to Spain, to walk the El Camino de Santiago.

     I only heard of the El Camino last year when I saw The Way, a 2010 movie that tells how Tom, an American doctor played by Martin Sheen, learns that his estranged son (played by real son Emilio Estevez) died while walking the El Camino de Santiago. Tom then decides to walk the trail himself to honor his son. He meets several travelers along the way, each of them making the journey for their own reasons, and in the end the doctor comes to terms with his son as well as his own life.

     Apparently, the El Camino goes back to the Middle Ages, when pilgrims traveled from their homes along a number of routes, all converging toward the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia in northwestern Spain. The church is reputed to contain the remains of St. James, one of the apostles of Jesus, who traveled to the Iberian peninsula to preach, was ultimately beheaded, and then brought back to be buried at the site.

     The route was particularly popular in the Middle Ages, when it was believed that indulgences could be earned along the way. Over the centuries the pilgrimage slowly lost its appeal, until by the 1980s it was almost forgotten. But in 1987 the Council of Europe declared it one of the first European Cultural Routes, and then UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site. The route began to attract more modern day adventurers from around the world -- people not necessarily going on a religious journey, but who have other reasons to make the trek.

     Presumably the movie further enchanced its appeal. My sister and her husband are going with another couple, who walked a part of the trail two years ago. They're taking their hike in the beginning of October, hopefully, "after the worst of the crowds have gone."

     I guess hiking the El Camino de Santiago has become a standard on many an American bucket list. It's not on mine -- I don't like to fly, and I don't like to go places where I don't speak the language. But still, it sounds like a great destination for the more adventurous wanderers among us.




Linda Myers said...

When we first started traveling we did long walks. We did a seven-day walk, b&b to b&b, in Ireland in 1998, and seven days of hikes out of an old hotel in the Lake District in 2002. These days, our walks are shorter. We're finding we like road trips the best, where we can stay off the freeways and meet the locals said...

Years ago after I read Shirley MacLean's tale of her spiritual journey in Spain, I wanted to walk El Camino.

Now I may not get the chance. A very inspirational pilgrimage to the cathedral of Saint James.

Recenly, Burt Wolf (CPB) walked El Camino and shared a film about his travels. Loved it. Dianne

Olga said...

We had some great trips. I was thinking they were a warm up for the travel we would do in retirement. My husband was thinking they were the trips we were going to do because we would not be travelling in retirement. A failure to communicate there.

Anonymous said...

I love to travel once a year, but prefer to fly than drive. Last year, we spent 2 weeks in India. This year, we will spend a week in Florida and Washington, DC.

DJan said...

I travel usually a couple times a year, without enjoying it. Once upon a time travel was fun, but now it's just work. I saw The Way and enjoyed it tremendously. I've got a couple of friends who are getting ready to bicycle and walk the Camino. What an adventure it would be! :-)

Stephen Hayes said...

I'm familiar with this pilgrimage but I don't know of anyone who has made it. So many things to see and do before I'm old and stonumasceneryconfined to a wheelchair.

Dick Klade said...

Thanks for the good post. I have no intention of making the walk, but I'm certainly going to get the movie. Missed it when it came out, and this was a good reminder.

Friko said...

Do you know ‘The Solitary Walker’?
Robert has walked the Camino from various starting points in Europe.

Bob Lowry said...

I enjoyed the movie, The Way, but have no interest in repeating Martin Sheen's journey! It was fun to watch from the comfort of my living room.

Like your sister, Betty and I are leaving the Phoenix heat for most of August. We'll be in the Portland area where we hope to meet several new blogging friends who will be vacationing there at the same time.

Like you, Tom, I am pretty much done with air travel. Except for a trip to Kauai sometime in the next few years, I am quite content to rack up the miles in our RV.

Lorna said...

And I might watch the movie, but could not make the walk, due to scoliosis and painful muscle spasms.

Tamara R said...

We saw the movie yesterday, and I was positively itching all the way through to be on the walk with them! We've been studying Spanish for some time, and would most definitely be interested in this, having already done something similar in Switzerland. The biggest difference is we'd skip the hostels and stay at places where we wouldn't be sharing bedrooms! A bathroom I can share, a bedroom, not so much!

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Barbara Torris said...

Tom, I love it all. I think it may be genetic but it really doesn't matter.

However, I don't want a long walk to anywhere. I suspect that God intended us to ride in or on something. How else can we explain cars, planes and horses?

Be well.