Leisurely French Way: Sarria to Santiago de Compostela over 12 days 02 – 14 June 2021. Fully escorted.
One of the world’s great historical trails, El Camino de Santiago, also known as the “Camino trail” or the “Way of St James”, is an epic 800km walk across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela.
It began as a religious pilgrimage to the relics of the Apostle James, interred in the grand old Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and since the ninth century hundreds of thousands have made the life-changing journey. It can take between 30 and 40 days if you choose to do it all in one go, however many also do a portion at a time, and some only walk the last 100km’s as this entitles the pilgrim the Compostela recognition.
There are many varied reasons that people walk the Camino, which is renowned as one of the most religious, inspirational and rewarding experiences. Some people do it simply for health and wellbeing, whilst many refer to it as a religious or spiritual journey. There is an enormous depth of history and everyday learning’s, as people of all ages from all over the world come together to walk the paths that so many have done before them. The small villages along the way would not exist if it wasn’t for the Camino, and the Camino wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the villages. The local people who are proud of their country and their culture, readily offer their hospitality and their generosity is overwhelming.
The countryside is extremely picturesque. The rolling hills are often dotted with a church steeple on the horizon, which may look close, but quite likely may be two or more kilometres away. The daily walk provides plenty of thinking and reflection time and the challenge of walking distances of 20 to 30 kilometres per day becomes easier as fitness increases with each step. Engaging with the locals is most rewarding and at times quite emotional, with many elderly ladies in the local churches keen to stamp your pilgrims passbook in recognition of your visit.
Walking the Camino is a time for reflection and recognition and a time to shake your worries for another time and place. It provides thinking time to crystallize the ‘where to from here’, or if you prefer, don’t bother thinking at all.
The itinerary has been designed in mind for walkers who prefer shorter walking days. On average you will walk 13 km per day. It is very much an individual journey, and therefore you are free to walk at your own pace in your own time. You will be equipped with easy to read maps and instructions, complete with directions to guide you on the well-marked paths and tracks, following the yellow arrows.
Wandering the World takes care of all your accommodation and daily luggage transfer so you can relax and enjoy your journey. This itinerary is carefully designed for easy to manage walking days. There is a basic level of fitness required and some uphill stretches in part, however, given you only need carry a lightweight day bag and your water supply, which can be replenished in the various villages on route, and other essentials such as snacks, it makes this trip very manageable for any inexperienced walker.
The accommodation is a mix of centrally located hotels and Casa Rurals – Spanish privately owned accommodation. The meals are also a highlight, on occasion mama will be in the kitchen preparing a three course hearty meal known as the pilgrim’s staple which comes complete with a bottle of wine, (which can be returned to the kitchen if you wish, or if you are under age!).
There is a variety of impressive cuisines from local chefs, and all dietary requirements are taken care of in advance. The language is Spanish, English may be difficult to find, which adds an exciting dimension and a great reminder that you are travelling in a foreign land.
French Way: Sarria to Santiago de Compostela
A 12-day Pilgrimage through Spain. Designed for like-minded people to share the journey to Santiago.
ESCORTED/HOSTED GROUP – DEPARTURE DATE: June 2, 2021
TRIP LENGTH: 12 days/11 nights GROUP SIZE: Maximum 14
MEALS: 12 Breakfasts, 8 Dinners (with wine included)
OTHER: Luggage Transfer – 20KG TRIP GRADE: Easy/Moderate
FROM PRICE: Euro2,130 per person, twin share
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: Euro660 if no gender share option available DEPOSIT: AUD1,000
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
Day 1/Night 1
As well as being rich in history, Sarria is a key service centre for the Camino. There are two parts, one being the beautiful historical village which is located in the upper part of town. Here you can visit the Tower of El Batallon and the Convent da Magdalena, which is now a hotel and definitely worth a visit to appreciate the architecture. Sarria is also renowned for its restoration workshops and antique stores.
Here you will need to be prepared with the words ‘Hola’ and ‘Buen Camino’ the most commonly spoken words on the pilgrimage.
Day 2/Night 2
SARRIA – MORGADE 13km. Estimated walking time approx. 4 hours
Leaving Sarria as the sun comes up (between 7am and 8am from May through October) it is worth an early morning wake up call, for the magical walk through the Rua Major, where the street lamps lining the road bid us farewell to Sarria. There are at least 5 villages en route to Portomarin, one of which is Morgade for your first stop – another highlight for history and views.
Day 3/Night 3
MORGADE – PORTOMARIN 9km. Estimated walking time approx. 3 hours
A gentle walk today, although walking into Portomarin, which is pitched beautifully on the hillside is a little more challenging. Just take your time and you will be rewarded. Portomarin is steeped in history, and after crossing the longest bridge on the Camino, you will discover it is also well known for its tarts and liqueurs. And where almost every second shop is a bakery.
Day 4/Night 4
PORTOMARIN – VENTAS DE NARON 13km. Estimated walking time approx. 4 hours
A walk through the square to exit Portomarin, to will pass through Hospital de la Cruz, before arriving at Ventas de Narón. It is here, where soon after the tomb of Santiago was discovered in 820, the Christian troops defeated the Emír of Cordóba.
Day 5/Night 5
VENTAS DE NARON – PALAS de REI 12km. Estimated walking time approx. 3 hours
Walking out of the village of Ventas de Naron you will pass the small chapel and a wooden wayside cross that lead up to the Sierra de Ligonde. This is the highest point on this section of the Camino – at approx 756 metres above sea level providing beautiful views over the valleys below. The path now begins to descend and takes you through the hamlets of Previsa and Lameiros. Between Lameiros and the next village of Ligonde you will find a 17th century cruceiro which is said to be the most famous cruceiro on the Camino. A little further on and just before you enter Ligonde you will find another stone cross which marks the location of an ancient pilgrim cemetery, all that remains of a former pilgrim hospital. Today your destination is Palas de Rei, a town of 3,700 people.
Day 6/Night 6
PALAS de REI – MELIDE 15km. Estimated walking time approx. 3 -4 hours
Your path takes you through small villages, farming regions, fields of sunflowers, and picnic areas, before arriving in Melide, founded in the 10th century and permitted to build a castle in 1320.
Day 7/Night 7
MELIDE – ARZUA 14km. Estimated walking time approx. 4 hours
Much of the today’s walk is through shaded Oak and Eucalyptus forest. It is an area for farming where there are more cattle per head than another area in the region of Galicia.
Day 8/Night 8
ARZUA – SALCEDA 12km. Estimated walking time approx. 3 hours
Salceda is a convenient stop on the Camino. It is a small place which is ideal for a rest and to sit and watch the pilgrims go by – and perhaps enjoy a glass of red as they did ‘back in the day’.
Day 9/Night 9
SALCEDA – LAVACOLLA 18km. Estimated walking time approx. 5 hours
This is a thrilling day. The excitement mounts as the final stage, and Santiago, which feels like it is just up the road is only one sleep away. There are smiles on the faces of the pilgrims and the locals. Today is also a day to sample some mushrooms, known in Spain as setas. Mushrooms are in abundance at the right time of year. Lavacolla is a convenient stop to break the longer walk into Santiago, with only 200 people living in the village, be sure you don’t miss it.
Day 10/Night 10
LAVACOLLA – SANTIAGO 10km. Estimated walking time approx. 3 hours
The last day of the pilgrimage, it will be a day of unexpected events. Arriving in Santiago can be an emotional and bitter sweet experience. Even if your feet and legs are hurting, there is usually a feeling of not wanting the journey to end. Santiago is visible from about 5 kilometres away, making your way past the pied piper (donations welcome), to the final stage at the steps of the cathedral, then a trip to the Compostela office to show your stamp book to the team of volunteers, who are eagerly waiting to stamp your certificate highlighting your name in Latin.
Santiago is a great city to celebrate, and the rewards for all that walking are sampling an endless supply of tapas, chorizo, bocadillos (tasty Spanish sandwiches), tortilla and Iberico jamon (Spanish ham), to name just a few of the specialities.