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Why the Camino de Santiago?

Camino(s) past & future
2015 Camino Frances on bicycle; Planning August 2017 Portuguese Camino from Porto to SDC on foot.
#1
First some back story before my philosophical question to the forum.
Like many others, I watched the movie, The Way, and was intrigued and motivated to someday venture on a Camino. The movie came out shortly after my son returned from an attempt on the PCT here on the West Coast of the USA, where he was on the trail for many months. His adventure sparked my desire for a long distance trek and the "luxury" accommodations of the Camino structure were more to my liking than carrying my food and shelter on my back for months.
So in 2015, when same son invited me to join him on a bike trek that ended in Santiago, I flew to Madrid and joined him in Pamplona to cycle to SdC. That "Camino" adventure was wonderful, but left me still wanting for a trek by foot.
In 2017 I flew to Lisbon with a friend and began on foot from Porto. Unfortunately, a severe case of shin splints set in on day 3, and my walking was limited to 1-5km/day; the balance of that Camino by bus, taxi or train to eventually end in SdC, without a Compostela.
I find myself still longing for a Camino, the walking of a long distance.
I have been reading a bit about other long distance treks throughout the world, though there does not seem to be nearly as much support or infrastructure as there is in Spain. And if my travel funds are limited, one could make a case for expanding exposure to other areas of this big globe; as I have been to Spain twice now. and yet... here I am, reading the Forums each week and still longing.

So my question that I hope others might help me answer:

Why the Camino de Santiago? Why do others return again and again? How do you explain to others this desire? What is this calling?
 

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RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times, but soon again I hope....
#3
For me the support and infrastructure, and religious and spiritual reasons as well, of course.
I've done the whole wilderness backpacking thing many times before. Waaaaay back before it became the hip thing to do like it is now after so many books and movies been made of middle-aged men and women off trying to find themselves by walking a long distance with stuff on their back. Fun when I was young and relished in packing around a tent and food on my back, living deep in the woods or on mountaintops. It was easy to do as well, when I was younger. We never weighed packs. We just loaded them up and off we went, cigarettes dangling from our lips. Then there was the army and a lot more time in the boonies with a pack on.
So I guess for me, been there and done that. Now I enjoy a shower, hot meal and a real bed after I am finished walking.
cheers and who's buying the first round :D
 
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
#4
Indeed like others here wrote : it is not a trek to me but a pilgrimage ( although for me not for religious reasons anymore ).
The infrastructure on most Caminos is very good and functional.
Where not but on a Camino can one meet such an interesting and diverse public to interact and share thoughts?

Because there is a wonderful serenity to be found in walking 7 to 8 hours a day, find a place for the night, take off your shoes and drink a beverage of your choice in good company.
Well almost always because you can meet less nice people too ( but hey they might think that of me also ).

Camino is like Life itself : the good , the bad & the ugly.
 

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Camino(s) past & future
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
#6
When you want to do a trek the Camino is not the place to do so , sorry .

The Camino is a walk and a Pilgrimage and you can do it for several reasons.
( and yes you can use a bike aswell )

And you can meet , walk , eat and talk with other Pilgrims from other country's and diverend backgrounds .That is also what the Camino is all about and of course ,
The Camino provides , Always .

And that I know.
 

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#7
First some back story before my philosophical question to the forum.
Like many others, I watched the movie, The Way, and was intrigued and motivated to someday venture on a Camino. The movie came out shortly after my son returned from an attempt on the PCT here on the West Coast of the USA, where he was on the trail for many months. His adventure sparked my desire for a long distance trek and the "luxury" accommodations of the Camino structure were more to my liking than carrying my food and shelter on my back for months.
So in 2015, when same son invited me to join him on a bike trek that ended in Santiago, I flew to Madrid and joined him in Pamplona to cycle to SdC. That "Camino" adventure was wonderful, but left me still wanting for a trek by foot.
In 2017 I flew to Lisbon with a friend and began on foot from Porto. Unfortunately, a severe case of shin splints set in on day 3, and my walking was limited to 1-5km/day; the balance of that Camino by bus, taxi or train to eventually end in SdC, without a Compostela.
I find myself still longing for a Camino, the walking of a long distance.
I have been reading a bit about other long distance treks throughout the world, though there does not seem to be nearly as much support or infrastructure as there is in Spain. And if my travel funds are limited, one could make a case for expanding exposure to other areas of this big globe; as I have been to Spain twice now. and yet... here I am, reading the Forums each week and still longing.

So my question that I hope others might help me answer:

Why the Camino de Santiago? Why do others return again and again? How do you explain to others this desire? What is this calling?
I have a long history of backpacking, including thru hiking the PCT and the Colorado trails. I spend hundreds of miles during the spring-fall seasons in the Cascades, Olympics, and the Rockies.

To me, the Camino is no more like wilderness backpacking than baking cookies is like running a commercial bakery. Sure, there are crossover commonalities; but, in the end, there is a world of difference.

In the movie you watched (The Way), the walk was not the main focus; the main focus of the movie was why each of the characters were doing Camino, and how the Camino changed them.

The walk.... the 800 kms to Santiago de Compostela and then onto Muxia .... was just the backdrop for their stories. Yes, they enjoyed the scenery, the architecture, the culture, the traditions, the ambiance, etc; but all of that was way to the back of the bus as far as why they did Camino.

Many, like myself, have spiritual and religious reasons for doing Camino. Others are dealing with emotions, such as grief at the loss of loved ones, jobs, or relationships. Some do it as an expression of gratitude to a higher power for how their life has turned out. Some, because it brings them closer to their God as they make their way to the shrine of St James to pay their respects.

For many, a pilgrimage is the seeking of something missing inside of ourselves.

The Camino has been brilliantly described as "a walking meditation" and as "praying with your feet, each step a prayer".

As you said, there are lots of tourist-based long distance walks around the globe. What is sad is that increasingly, tourists are looking at Camino as a cheap vacation infrastructure and not as an instrument to help them deal with some spiritual or inward goal or turmoil. This increasing tourist traffic makes it difficult for pilgrims, who rely on the inexpensive Camino infrastructure, to find the inexpensive accomodations that they depend on to help them afford to be on a pilgrimage.
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Camino Frances/Muxia/Fisterre (2017) Caminho Portuguese/Fisterre
(2019) Camino del Norte
#8
For many, a pilgrimage is the seeking of something missing inside of ourselves.
Thank you, @davebugg . This is essentially why I walked. I discovered so much I did not know, both internally and externally.

And the infrastructure, spiritual history, and the company of like minded seekers helped me decide between portions of the PCT and the Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - central from Oporto (2018 - planned)
#9
For me the Camino was like the perfect storm of my interests. I've been interested in medieval history and culture since my teens. My interest in Spain came a bit later - I lived there for about a year and a half when I was 25. Later still, my interests turned to the more spiritual. The Camino combines all three. Others will have completely different reasons for being attracted to the Camino: Christian religious motivations, a desire for a physical challenge or a long walk with good supporting infrastructure, a cheap European holiday, etc., etc., etc.

But what originally calls one to the Camino isn't necessarily what keeps one coming back again and again. I think that is more likely to be things like: a desire to leave the "regular world" and enter a space of simplicity and routine, activity and purpose; looking forward to the society of the Camino - other pilgrims, hospitaleros and friendly supportive locals and the camaraderie and mutual support that pilgrim society affords; the opportunity to free and open your mind and spirit to thoughts, feelings and experiences that will help one grow.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria to Santiago in 2015 and Camino Finisterre in September 2017
#10
I have a long history of backpacking, including thru hiking the PCT and the Colorado trails. I spend hundreds of miles during the spring-fall seasons in the Cascades, Olympics, and the Rockies.

To me, the Camino is no more like wilderness backpacking than baking cookies is like running a commercial bakery. Sure, there are crossover commonalities; but, in the end, there is a world of difference.

In the movie you watched (The Way), the walk was not the main focus; the main focus of the movie was why each of the characters were doing Camino, and how the Camino changed them.

The walk.... the 800 kms to Santiago de Compostela and then onto Muxia .... was just the backdrop for their stories. Yes, they enjoyed the scenery, the architecture, the culture, the traditions, the ambiance, etc; but all of that was way to the back of the bus as far as why they did Camino.

Many, like myself, have spiritual and religious reasons for doing Camino. Others are dealing with emotions, such as grief at the loss of loved ones, jobs, or relationships. Some do it as an expression of gratitude to a higher power for how their life has turned out. Some, because it brings them closer to their God as they make their way to the shrine of St James to pay their respects.

For many, a pilgrimage is the seeking of something missing inside of ourselves.

The Camino has been brilliantly described as "a walking meditation" and as "praying with your feet, each step a prayer".

As you said, there are lots of tourist-based long distance walks around the globe. What is sad is that increasingly, tourists are looking at Camino as a cheap vacation infrastructure and not as an instrument to help them deal with some spiritual or inward goal or turmoil. This increasing tourist traffic makes it difficult for pilgrims, who rely on the inexpensive Camino infrastructure, to find the inexpensive accomodations that they depend on to help them afford to be on a pilgrimage.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 and probably 2018
#12
Why the Camino de Santiago? Why do others return again and again? How do you explain to others this desire? What is this calling?
To start with there are umpteen reasons for doing your first Camino: Religious, spiritual, adventure, a promise, fundraising, etc. But where else would you meet so many people suffering in their own ways with one objective: getting to Santiago. People from all walks of life, different cultures, languages and even religions and non-believers with the simple objective of getting to SANTIAGO. The people one meets creating forever friends from different parts of the world, the history all along the CAMINO, architecture from centuries old and the hospitality one finds. And here we all are writing comments, suggestions, experiences, and recommendations about the same thing- The Camino de Santiago. WALK THE WAY, YOUR WAY. Buen Camino to all who are preparing for their first CAMINO.
 
Camino(s) past & future
St. Jean Pied de Port to Logroño in 2015.
Logroño to Castrojeriz in 2016.
Complete to Santiago in 2017 & 2018
#13
For me the Camino was like the perfect storm of my interests. I've been interested in medieval history and culture since my teens. My interest in Spain came a bit later - I lived there for about a year and a half when I was 25. Later still, my interests turned to the more spiritual. The Camino combines all three. Others will have completely different reasons for being attracted to the Camino: Christian religious motivations, a desire for a physical challenge or a long walk with good supporting infrastructure, a cheap European holiday, etc., etc., etc.

But what originally calls one to the Camino isn't necessarily what keeps one coming back again and again. I think that is more likely to be things like: a desire to leave the "regular world" and enter a space of simplicity and routine, activity and purpose; looking forward to the society of the Camino - other pilgrims, hospitaleros and friendly supportive locals and the camaraderie and mutual support that pilgrim society affords; the opportunity to free and open your mind and spirit to thoughts, feelings and experiences that will help one grow.
 
Camino(s) past & future
St. Jean Pied de Port to Logroño in 2015.
Logroño to Castrojeriz in 2016.
Complete to Santiago in 2017 & 2018
#14
Well said, David.
It is a chance to leave that 'regular world' behind. The Camino is a world in itself, a simple, peaceful world.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - June 2018
#15
To "enter a space of simplicity and routine, activity and purpose" that right there says it all for me! The only thing I would add is Gratitude - so looking forward to my first Camino to experience all of this ! May 31st here I come!
blogging at: mycaminosresolve.com
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF: (2001, 2002, 2004, 2014). Hospitalera: 2002, Ponferrada. 2004, Rabanal del Camino.
#16
To "enter a space of simplicity and routine, activity and purpose" that right there says it all for me! The only thing I would add is Gratitude - so looking forward to my first Camino to experience all of this ! May 31st here I come!
blogging at: mycaminosresolve.com
Do have the time of your life.

Buen camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Aug-Sept(2016) SJPDP-Finisterre, July-Aug(2017) SJPDP-Muxia-Finisterre, July-Aug(2018) El Norte
#17
enter a space of simplicity and routine, activity and purpose; looking forward to the society of the Camino - other pilgrims, hospitaleros and friendly supportive locals and the camaraderie and mutual support that pilgrim society affords; the opportunity to free and open your mind and spirit to thoughts, feelings and experiences that will help one grow.
I love this!

And as to why I'm going back for a 3rd time, this quote that I stole from a blog sums it up

"Most of all, I miss the feeling that I was exactly where I was meant to be at almost every moment of the trip. "
 

Ernesto.IT

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
#18
First some back story before my philosophical question to the forum.
Like many others, I watched the movie, The Way, and was intrigued and motivated to someday venture on a Camino. The movie came out shortly after my son returned from an attempt on the PCT here on the West Coast of the USA, where he was on the trail for many months. His adventure sparked my desire for a long distance trek and the "luxury" accommodations of the Camino structure were more to my liking than carrying my food and shelter on my back for months.
So in 2015, when same son invited me to join him on a bike trek that ended in Santiago, I flew to Madrid and joined him in Pamplona to cycle to SdC. That "Camino" adventure was wonderful, but left me still wanting for a trek by foot.
In 2017 I flew to Lisbon with a friend and began on foot from Porto. Unfortunately, a severe case of shin splints set in on day 3, and my walking was limited to 1-5km/day; the balance of that Camino by bus, taxi or train to eventually end in SdC, without a Compostela.
I find myself still longing for a Camino, the walking of a long distance.
I have been reading a bit about other long distance treks throughout the world, though there does not seem to be nearly as much support or infrastructure as there is in Spain. And if my travel funds are limited, one could make a case for expanding exposure to other areas of this big globe; as I have been to Spain twice now. and yet... here I am, reading the Forums each week and still longing.

So my question that I hope others might help me answer:

Why the Camino de Santiago? Why do others return again and again? How do you explain to others this desire? What is this calling?
Because Santiago is there!!! And for some is very important to go to Santiago de Compostela to pay respect to the Apostolo. Wy you go to the cinema?
 
Camino(s) past & future
2015 Camino Frances on bicycle; Planning August 2017 Portuguese Camino from Porto to SDC on foot.
#19
Thank you, all, for the replies. The responses are helping me come to grips with the longing that sits in my soul. Both of my previous "caminos" were life changing. No doubt they were a pilgrimage for this life. While Santiago holds no special meaning to me as a destination, the time spent getting there is the purpose.
It really is about the journey and not the destination.
I will no longer fret over explaining "why" I will plan another camino. I just will.
Buen Camino.
 



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