Camino de Santiago (2022)

Whether Paulo Coelho’s book on the Camino de Santiago, or Hape Kerkeling’s “I’m off then”. The Camino de Santiago has long ceased to be a mere pilgrimage route for Christians from all over the world. Instead, it is a world-famous phenomenon and as such one of the best-developed and most popular long-distance hiking trails in the world, including being declared a UNESCO World Heritage designation. I, too, first became aware of this pilgrimage route through the media. For me, it was the French film comedy “Saint Jacques… La Mecque”. The concept of spending days, weeks, and even months wandering from one place to another absolutely intrigued me. And so I made up my mind to do the same thing one day. Doing the Camino de Santiago alone as a minor was of course out of the question. During my studies, not only was the money missing but above all the time. Studying has a certain liberal reputation in society, but that hardly applies to STEM subjects (and Kevin and I both studied computer science). When there was a semester break, you used every free minute to prepare for the sometimes really difficult exams and somehow make it into the next semester. Just walk the Camino de Santiago? No, that really wasn’t included. A lot changed when I started my career. Suddenly there were regulated working hours and closing times (although unfortunately, that doesn’t always work so well for a doctoral student). Above all, however, there was also a certain number of vacation days available. As you can easily see from this blog, we also use these vacation days diligently to travel. So it wasn’t long before the idea of ​​the Camino de Santiago was back on the table. Kevin, a passionate couch potato, was of course anything but convinced of my project. In the end, I managed to reach a compromise. You have to know that there is no such thing as THE Camino de Santiago. In the Middle Ages, people just walked from home until they finally arrived in Santiago de Compostela. Certain routes have emerged from this so that today there are some famous routes. If you hear someone talking about THE Camino de Santiago, it is usually the French Camino (Camino Frances). This is also the path that Hape Kerkeling, among others, has taken. The main starting point for this trail is Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the French Pyrenees. From there it is almost 800 km to Santiago. Even if it is a big dream of mine to walk this path one day, I have to admit that this path would have failed at the latest due to the number of vacation days available to us. One of the most popular Caminos after the Camino Frances is probably the Portuguese Camino (Camino Portugues). This way offers a number of advantages. The Camino Portugues is well developed with numerous hostels and cafés. It is also considered one of the easiest Caminos, as it is almost completely flat. Another advantage is that, depending on where you start, it runs fairly evenly between Portugal and Spain, so you’re crossing two different countries. The official start is in Lisbon, however, the most popular starting point for this trail is Porto. From there it is still almost 250km to Santiago de Compostela, which is quite doable in two weeks. Thanks to my carefully collected arguments, I was finally able to convince Kevin to make a deal: between the Christmas holidays of 2021 and New Year’s we would undertake a hike equivalent to a one-day stage of the Camino de Santiago, and in the end, Kevin can decide whether he dares to do it or not. For this, we walked the Luther Trail from Weimar to Apolda and the hike was a complete success (the corresponding blog entry can be found here). With that, it was decided: We would walk the Portuguese Camino from Porto to Santiago de Compostela.

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