For over 2 years, my husband has been working near the area where most pilgrims start their walk (the pilgrimage starts at your door, really), St. Jean Pieds de Port. That is the town where Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez filmed the start of their movie “The Way,” which is about the Camino. We were there in January which is not peregrino season! Thank goodness.
My husband wanted to do the walk, but we are 55 and although healthy, a walk of 500 miles would be a really big challenge for us. We would have to be in training for a long time. One of my big criticisms of the movie “The Way” was that the lead character just put on boots and started walking, and never seemed to experience any physical problems, even the most common, blisters on your feet! The hostels would not be my first choice of accommodations, but in some villages, there is little else, so if we ever do it, I’d just have to grin and bear it, turn it over as my suffering.
You can do the walk in segments, which many people who live in France or Spain do. Of course for Americans, that would mean multiple trips to Europe, which adds to the expense and the need for time off from work. You can do it on bicycles, which I would consider. You can even do some of it on horseback! And, if you have the money, you can go the luxury route and have your luggage ported ahead and put into nice hotels by a tour service. These pilgrims are sometimes looked down upon as not really being true pilgrims, but in ages past, people of means did go on horseback or in carriages. A pilgrimage changes you no matter how you actually travel.
And indeed, you can walk the last 100 km and get your certificate. Or, you can bike that last 200 km. A lot of pilgrims do just that, so the last 200 km is the most crowded part of the trail.
It’s funny, but we had never heard of this pilgrimage before my husband started working in France. Suddenly, references to it started popping up everywhere, including the movie, “The Way.”