The Camino de Santiago, or The Way of St James, is one of the world’s most famous pilgrimage routes, and although the scallop shell marked route can vary slightly depending on your actual start and finish point, it covers around 800kms/500miles.
When we first met Luke, he was happily working in the IT industry working part time as model – including for us here at ioMerino! But after working in front of a computer for 12 years he said he needed something to give himself a real re-set. While some people may have taken a weekend, perhaps even a week or two, Luke set his sights on the Camino de Santiago.
“I’m not really sure how I first heard of it, but it was always there in the back of my mind that I’d like to do it one day. After 12 years working 9 to 5, it was good to go walking through sunflower fields, peaceful villages and beautiful forests” he said. And we couldn’t agree more!
Luke says he had no idea what to expect, but that he handled the distance and the conditions quite well. The most challenging part? The share accommodation!
“The lodgings and accommodation were probably the hardest thing to get used to, at times sleeping with up to 99 of your newest friends with just two bathrooms between everyone” he laughs. “My advice for anyone considering it would be to book ahead at smaller, cleaner places and take the occasional hotel with your own bathroom.” Sounds like Luke is a little soft to us, but not as soft as the ioMerino he wore along the way.
“My ioMerino performed great” Luke said. “You want to pack as light as possible so you wear the same thing every day or two. It can get quite sweaty out there so the non-smelly properties were definitely an added advantage.” And he wasn’t the only one who appreciated the lightweight warmth with more than a few envious looks by fellow travellers. “When I took my pack off at the top of a mountain to admire the view, there were a few jealous pilgrims who had layered up with multiple layers when I had just the one.”
All up, Luke took 35 days with just two rest days to complete his pilgrimage. He says the trails were made up mostly of gap-year students and retirees with not so many people in between, explaining “apparently not many people can get 35 days off work to fly to Spain and walk 800km!”.
His final piece of advice, for anyone considering the walk, is to take your time. “Don’t rush. It’s easy to get wrapped up in getting to Santiago in the shortest number of days but that’s not what the Camino is about. It’s about realising there is no hurry and you’ll get there when you get there. It sounds cliche, but it really is about he journey, not the destination.”