In early spring we took some time to slow down from everything in our lives. We thought it would be a great chance to get a break from our everyday life and we didn’t want a traditional vacation which lead us to the decicion to hike through spain on the Camino de Santiago. The trail goes about 800 kilometers from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela. We chose the pilgrim life and it was an experience we will never forget.
Start of the Camino de Santiago
Before we started, we did a lot of research. Most people talked about the magic of the Camino and that it will never leave you. A happiness that you will not be able to find somewhere else and an addiction to walk the trail over and over again. We were sceptic, because both of us never walked 800km in about six weeks and we didn’t know what to expect physically and mentally, but we couldn’t stop talking about it.
During our first day we realized that it wouldn’t be an easy walk. Due to a misunderstanding of signs we got lost and walked 30km instead of 24km. We were exhausted and questioning how we shall be able to walk ever again, but the answer was simple: It felt good. The first four days were maybe the most exhausting days in our lives. We hadn’t had much time to train before nor to break our shoes as we basically left the couch and jumped into this adventure.
We got asked by a lot of friends and other people whether we talked a lot while walking, but mostly we didn’t. Everyone walks the Camino for themselves and for their own reason. There’s nothing negative about not walking side by side, because everyone has their own walking rhythm and it’s more difficult to try and walk together than just accepting your own speed. The whole way is about acceptance. If you don’t walk with an open mind and heart you probably won’t make it to Santiago. You will realize what your body is capable of and what not. You will find yourself filled with empty thoughts, but more than happy after a day filled with walking.
We can’t really tell what makes the Camino to Santiago de Compostela so special, but we can promise that there is definitely some kind of magic. We still don’t know if it’s because of walking everyday or the amazing people you meet along the way, but we promise that you will be a different person afterwards. We realized that you can become the happiest person with just your backpack. Things you thought were important became completely irrelevant, because you got everything you need in your backpack. It’s such an easy and cheerful life!
Someone told us that he doesn’t understand why the world is sometimes in such a miserable place, because everyone on the Camino seems the same. We all have the same way of thinking; a big heart and there really is some truth in it. No one cares about how you look, what you believe in or where you come from. Everyone is just the same.
All these other people became really important to us. You see some of them everyday, so you’re never really alone. You talk to some and others just pass by, but you know that you’re never alone. Everyone has the same daily routine and at the end of the day everyone struggled the same. These people become your family and it feels like you have known them for decades. You even start to worry if you don’t seen them for a while and you’re happy the moment you meet them in a different village again. You also get so much energy when you see them along the road in situations you really need someone who cheers you on.
So this is a huge thank you to all the pilgrims we met and walked with. It was a real pleasure and a true motivation!
There is one specific moment we both will never forget. The legend says that everyone gets the entry to Santiago de Compostela you deserve. We both walked very slowly on our very last day to really enjoy the last 20km. It sounds silly, because you’re walking this trail for weeks and want to make it to the destination, but the closer you get the slower you walk. You simply don’t want to end it. But when we were on our last steps to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, a few pilgrim friends were waiting in a restaurant and cheering, screaming and celebrating that we’ve made it. This moment fills our hearts with pure happiness and we still think about it a lot.
And that’s what the essence of the camino is, just love and happiness – that’s how we’ve made it.
But what would be a 800km walk without music? We both listened to a lot of music while we walked. Basically more than we could ever put together in a playlist. A few songs in our playlist were constantly played by the Spanish radio so that’s a nice reminder for us, but most of them were selected by ourselves to just give you a nice collection of cool songs that motivated us to keep walking. But there are also songs that have a specific story to the time on the camino. A very good example is “Imagine” by John Lennon. The lyrics to the song were written on trash cans and signs during the very last kilometers of the Camino and even if the song is quite old now, the lyrics still fit. Just imagine all the people living life in peace for a second. And “The Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga was played on the radio during our very last lunch. We decided to get a very last Bocadillo (white bread with cheese, beef, egg or whatever) before walking the last 10 kilometres. When we arrived, at this great campsite with a very nice restaurant, the song was playing and we both felt like we were coming to the edge of glory. On the one hand you feel so happy that you’ve made it, but also so sad that it’s over and you’re basically just overwhelmed by the experience.
We think all we have left to say is: If you really want to understand what we’re talking about or looking for some answers yourself, walk the Camino. It’s truly the experience of a lifetime, not an easy one, but with happiness you can’t compare. You truly change – in a good way!
Buen Camino, dear friends.