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Camino de Santiago

You Are Never Alone On The Camino De Santiago

You are never really alone on the Camino de Santiago

walking alone on the Camino de Santiago

“Solitude shows us what we should be – society shows us what we are” – Lord Cecil

I was often asked if I traveled “The Way” alone or with a group. I found this question to be intriguing as you are never really alone while walking the Camino de Santiago. While I started to walk the Camino alone, I found myself walking with others throughout the day and was rarely alone. We walked, we talked – there were stories and peels of laughter. At times there were even tears! There were times where language barriers meant that stories were not really understood, but we got by. I was never really alone. While I loved the strong community of pilgrims in the evening, I also craved some solitude – some time to think as I walked the way of so many before me! I had a purpose – to think and re-evaluate my life and the direction it was taking. This was, after all, a transition zone for me.


Leaving Leon rather late in the morning, I relished the chance to walk alone, quietly lost in my thoughts, stopping at the Plaza San Marcos to explore the Monastery and to sneak a peek inside the historic Parador Hotel (a Spanish hotel chain with historical links to the Camino de Santiago).

where to stay in Leon

With the urban sprawl outside of Leon, I knew there would be plenty of coffee shops along the way to catch up with others, sharing some stories and a laugh, before heading out along the trail to Villar de Mazariffe, or so I thought! While there were plenty of cafes and bars, there were also plenty of conflicting arrows and directions along the route and I found myself heading along the dry Senda to Villadangos del Paramo. The stretch of road was uninspiring and my delightful solitude soon turned to boredom as I found myself craving company yet again. I was so relieved to catch up to a fellow pilgrim up the road and slowed my pace so we could walk and talk together.

The Meseta

We finally arrived at the Municipal Albergue – my feet were tired and I was relieved to find a bed for the night and a hot shower to wash off the dust from the road. It turned out that the Albergue was a bit of a disaster (no toilet paper and my first introduction to the dreaded bed bugs), but it did provide an opportunity to cook dinner for the evening. (While there were many cooking opportunities along the way, I mostly chose to eat the pilgrim dinners in the various towns along the route.) My new walking partner and I walked into town to pick up a variety of colourful vegetables to cook up that evening.

stir fry vegetables

The kitchen and communal dining table were the heart and soul of the albergue – with wine and laughter flowing. Smells of foods from around the world filled the air and we dined like kings and queens for a night. This was just another example of the many things I loved on the Camino de Santiago – the opportunity for times of solitude and companionship during the day, and such a strong sense of community at night. You are never really alone along the Camino de Santiago!

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About Anita Mac

The bucket list just keeps growing! The more I cross off - the more exciting new destinations and activities I find! I have been fortunate enough to travel a considerable distance over the years. My love of many things, including travel, cycling, kayaking and photography fit together like hand and glove. I have to keep asking myself....where to next? I am happy to share my travels and photography through my blogs: http://traveldestinationbucketlist.com and http://anitamacphotos.wordpress.com Hope you enjoy them as much as I do! On to the next adventure!


25 thoughts on “You Are Never Alone On The Camino De Santiago

  1. This is one thing I desperately need to do, and I can’t wait! Thanks for this post 🙂

    Posted by agirlcalledemily | October 19, 2012, 11:02 am
  2. Ugh, bed bugs!?
    I suppose it is a balance of amazing beauty and hard realities, being lost in your own thoughts, and also community.
    An incredible journey.

    Posted by drawandshoot | October 19, 2012, 12:46 pm
    • You are so right – the balance – sometimes I could hardly walk for all the photos I was taking as the beauty of the area was overwhelming! The bed bugs were a harsh reality and very tough for me to deal with mentally. It took a while to recover from that one but the reality is, they are out there! So many people had been bitten – the test is in how you deal with it! I hope I came out well on the other side, although there were some tough moments!! It is all part of the journey – still so happy to have taken it on!

      Posted by Anita Mac | October 20, 2012, 4:37 am
  3. I’m not generally a fan of walking, but after trekking in Nepal I’ve come to see the appeal a bit more. And I have a friend who walked the Camino de Santiago recently and he can’t stop raving about it.

    Posted by Daniel McBane - Funny Travel Stories | October 20, 2012, 3:17 am
  4. I wouldn’t mind resting my feet overnight at that beautiful hotel!

    Posted by Annette | October 20, 2012, 11:20 am
  5. Hi, good to read you made it, after Estella. Evert

    Posted by Evert | November 4, 2012, 6:39 pm
    • Well, I have you to thank for your help getting to Estella – my poor feet were in such a bad way! Hope you enjoyed the rest of your Camino. It was a pleasure to walk with you.

      Posted by Anita Mac | November 7, 2012, 10:42 am
      • Oh no, no thanks, you were welcome. It was more than a pleasure to walk with you on the second and third day of my Camino. You gave me a good start. I simply walked after Estella, hoping your feet would recover, and enjoyed both the good company of me and myself, and after all that was why I started, and the many fellow pelgrims I met on the way showing me the many ways to undergo the Santiago experience. At 20 plus kilometers a day, I endured sun, sometimes a drizzle and cold mountains, passed through impressive landscapes, beautiful towns and cities and collected my Compostela on October 6th.
        Since the middl;e of October I’m trying to bring all those steps and albergues and exchanges and lessons I received together in a booklet. I’m glad I took the long walk, I don’t know what it exactly did to me, but I owe the Way a lot.and returned home feeling good, confident and full of energy.

        Posted by Evert | November 7, 2012, 6:39 pm
  6. loved that interior shot 🙂

    Posted by joshi daniel | November 19, 2012, 2:40 am
  7. Anita, coincidentally, I just watched the movie, The Way, with Martin Sheen. Are you familiar with it? As he walked the Camino in tribute to his decessed son’s dream, a transformation took place-helped by his solitude and from the sojourners he traveled with. The scenary was beautiful. Thanks for sharing your insights and photos, and thanks for the “like”on my post. Blessings for the rest of 2012.

    Posted by Michael Doran | November 27, 2012, 2:17 pm
    • I did see the movie and loved it! It was fascinating to walk the Camino and see the various places from the film. While it wasn’t the reason for my walking the Camino, the amazing cinematography certainly helped inspire me! Glad you liked the photos.

      Posted by Anita Mac | November 27, 2012, 7:09 pm
  8. Great post! Walking the Camino is high on my bucket list and even if I now travel with my boyfriend, it sounds like a trip I’d like to do on my own. Having the chance to relish the walk alone while pondering life with new friends along the way sounds like a very powerful personal experience. Thank you for inspiring me to plan this as a solo trip for myself 🙂

    Posted by alex | November 28, 2012, 2:55 pm
    • I felt the same way Alex – the Camino was a journey I wanted to do alone. A chance to reflect on life and meet people from around the world. While walking, I also thought it would be amazing to do with a partner – I met many who were walking together, but would also split up during the day and walk alone. The best of both worlds. I still think I got more of what I was looking for as far as personal reflection was concerned and am glad to have walked alone. I am so glad you have been inspired to go solo – it is such an amazing journey!
      Buen Camino.

      Posted by Anita Mac | November 29, 2012, 8:42 am
  9. The Camino De Santiago is a journey I would love to do one day. I have a couple of other trips that are calling to me first such as visiting the Amazon but the Camino De Santiago will be done solo.

    Posted by Megan Kennedy | March 9, 2013, 10:59 am
  10. Apologies I’ve been AWOL for a while and missing out on your blog posts. You’ll be happy to hear my friend has been checking out some of your posts in my absence because she wants to trek the Camino De Santiago. Well there’s only one go to girl for that, I said.

    Posted by Tracey | Chronic Adventures | April 23, 2013, 2:59 am


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