A chronicle of one woman’s 500-mile European trek that’s equal parts travel guide and memoir, offering up plenty of historical details along the way.
The Camino de Santiago comprises a vast network of ancient trails that extend across Europe, traveled by numerous religious pilgrims each year. The routes cover a variety of terrain including coastal cliffs and forested trails, all eventually leading to the burial site of St. James, whose remains were discovered in the ninth century. For debut author Pittet and her husband, Michael Crowley, making the decision to walk the Camino was an easy one, and it led to an incredible journey of self-discovery, legendary antiquity, and lasting friendships. Pittet eagerly dissects the dizzying amount of medieval history surrounding the route and its many infamous pilgrims. Quotations from such luminaries as Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare abound, as do engaging stories of legendary skirmishes. General advice and travel tips cover the basics for beginners, and there’s a skillfully curated list of recommended guides and travel agencies. A handful of black-and-white photos show rest stops along the route, complete with picturesque villages and cobblestone streets. As they make their journey, Pittet is candid about the daily challenges and unpredictability of hiking long-distance: “The weather may play foul or other glitches may occur, but one simply has to ascribe such mishaps to the fates, or else say with the Spanish, ‘Cosa Camino’ or ‘No pasa nada’—it doesn’t really matter; it’s no big deal.” Descriptions of medieval churches and ornate architecture offer professional, informative glimpses into the building’s origins. There are vivid anecdotes throughout that will give readers a deeper education than other casual guides. The book thoroughly examines what it means to be a pilgrim in the 21st century as it shares Pittet’s thoughts on the journey’s transformative power.
An insightful and enlightening account of the Camino de Santiago.