At he the cathedral in Porto.

At he the cathedral in Porto.

You get fit and lose weight.

Walking the camino is sure to make you fit as you spend the majority of the day walking in elevated terrain with a pack on your back.

And you can even eat and drink quite a bit without worrying about putting on weight so this is the kinda travel I like as Dieting has to be one of the more miserable pursuits you can undertake in life.

During my walk I ate all the food I felt like and usually washed it down with half a liter of redwine or a couple of big beers and I still lost 2,5 kilos in 11 days.

You meet interesting people.

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Walking does a thing to you:

People suddenly have time to start thinking more deep thoughts, both religious and non religious and this means you can have some very interesting conversations with the people you meet on the road that goes beyond the usual “what’s your name” “where are you from” kinda thing.

It’s not like I was engulfed in long talks about religious faith since I am a non believer myself, but I really enjoyed having some very good philosophical talks to people from all around the globe and that is one thing that is very easy to find on the camino.

In more than two decades of traveling the globe it’s probably the trip where I had the most deep conversations with people.

It’s a cheap way to see Portugal and Spain.

Camino Portuguese.

A day on the Camino Portuguese.

Walking the camino cost me around 25 euros per day and I could easily have done it cheaper.

When you walk the camino you will typically stay in pilgrims refuges which cost an average of 5-6 euros per night for a dorm bed and the restaurants along the camino usually have special menus for camino walkers that are discounted and finding a 3 course meal and half a liter of wine and a coffee should always cost you under 10 euros.

I usually paid around 7 euros for that.

Plus Spain and Portugal are coffee countries where common man tends to go to the cafe for a coffee a few times a day so it’s very affordable to drink coffee there too which is of great importance to me.

So the cost is not what should keep you away from walking Camino Portuguese.

The camino is full of girls.

Lunch with fellow Camino walkers.

Lunch with fellow Camino walkers.

One thing that really struck me on the camino is the number of women walking it compared to the number of men, especially if you are talking those under the age of 40.

My guess is that when guys want to have an active holiday they tend to climb the Mont Blanc, walk to Everest Base Camp or something else that is a little more macho and physically challenging.

Girls on the other hand seem to love the idea of having an active holiday where they can throw some spirituality and history in to it.

I would probably say that I met around 3-4 times as many women as men under the age of 40 walking the camino while it was more even among the sexes when you take the older age group which is actually quite big too.

I met several people over the age of 70 walking the camino.

So guys: If you are able to walk 25 kilometers a day and hold a fairly intelligent conversation then the camino is actually not the worst place to meet some charming young ladies, so get out of the bar and on the the Camino if you are looking for nice girls.

It’s the best cure against stress.

Fellow camino walker chilling out.

Fellow camino walker chilling out.

Spending the entire day walking slowly through beautiful countryside is pretty close to being the best stress relief I  know.

I have a very stressful job myself in travel and tourism where I fly close to 100 times per year and have more than 100 days per year as a tour leader where I have to cater to clients 24/7 and I am very often close to cracking up with stress and too high blood pressure.

But while walking the camino I did not just get fit, but my stress level went to the lowest in a long time and my blood pressure was as low as in my teens.

I have found over the years that exercise is the best way to cure stress, especially if it’s something where you exercise slow for several hours per day.

So if you are stressed then get on to the Camino and I will almost guarantee you that your stress level will drop significantly.

You do not need to be religious to walk the Camino.

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I am not religious, neither spiritual and I was wondering whether this would leave me as some outcast on the camino that no one would want to talk to, but this was not the case at all.

The vast majority of the people I met on the camino did not do the walk for religious reasons, but sure there were some and I got along fine with them.

I met many people, mostly younger women, who walked it partly for spiritual reasons even if they are not catholic, but they liked the idea of the camino having been used for hundreds of years by religious and spiritual people.

Then you have the group where I kinda fall in who walk it cause we like active holidays and also has a historical interest in both the camino and the countries we walk through.

In that group I came across both hindus, muslims and buddhists walking the Camino.

And I am sure you can find other people who do it for other reasons, but the bottom line is that you do not have to be a practicing catholic to walk the camino and have a good time there.

It can be done in around 10 days.

On the way to Santiago.

On the way to Santiago.

Many people tell me that they are thinking about walking the Camino but tell me that they can not take several weeks off to walk all the way from France.

Now you do not need to walk all the way from France in order to be considered a pilgrim.

All you have to do is walk at least the last 100 kilometers in order to get accredited as a pilgrim.

The walk from Porto where I started to Santiago de Compostela is officially 242 kilometers long, but in reality it will be a little longer as you will always take some little side steps here and there.

I did the trip myself in 11 days, but it would have been 10 days had I not injured my foot on the second day of walking so I had to take a break one day.

This means that you can quite easily do it in a fortnights holiday and still have a day or two to explore Porto and Santiago de Compostela which are both very interesting cities.

And finally please take your time to see Porto and Santiago de Compostela.

Porto.

Porto.

If you walk from Porto to Santiago de Compostela like me then I would strongly suggest that you take your time to see these two cities and not just rush in and out of there.

They are both world class cities that every traveling person should see at least once in their lifetime.

 

7 Comments

  1. I walked the Camino del Norte last summer. Thanks to multiple meals and a lot of beer, I definitely felt stronger, but not lighter!

  2. One day! I agree with you on all points, especially how walking allows the mind to think more deeply.

  3. You have inspired me to do this walk. I’m talking with my husband about it. How much walking do you do in your normal life? I would probably have to work up to walking that far.

    • I like to walk a lot every day and never drive if a place is within walking distance so I am quite used to walking.
      If you plan to exercise in order to prepare for such a thing then do it by walking as a gym will not prepare you as it tends to be different muscles you train there.
      But the key to these long walks is stamina so you just keep going even when your feet hurts.
      I am personally a very slow walker but I can walk for hours without end.

  4. Hey Claus! I’m actually thinking of doing the Camino de Santiago either this year or next, though I’d likely be walking the Camino Francés (the one that starts in southern France and goes along northern Spain). A few of my old friends walked it several years ago for religious reasons, which would be my main motivation too but the adventure part is also a factor for me. I think it would be a good thing for me to do something totally different from the types of traveling I’ve been doing for the past decade. I just ordered some books on Amazon about the Camino, so we’ll see…

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