Travel Plans Post COVID-19. Anyone?!
“Travelling After Coronavirus” sure sounds like something positive we want to hear and talk about! The situation we’re all in at the moment feels like hell to anyone who is deep in love with travelling. None of us were prepared for this and many people, including us, already had trips lined up before the pandemic took over. Obviously, these have all been scraped away. The key right now is patience and most importantly, keeping a positive attitude along the way. The time will come, we believe in that! So, we’re using this time in quarantine to make some travel plans for when life goes back to normal and it’s safe again to travel.
Here is the first travel plan we have in mind after Covid-19:
Travelling After Coronavirus: Walking the El Camino Portugues (The Portuguese Way)
We’ve been thinking about this for months! Now more than ever, we feel it fits even more perfectly with the way we wish to start off our full-time travel adventure. El Camino Portugués is one of the seven main pilgrim routes of the Camino de Santiago. All of these routes come together at the tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela, at the very north-western part of Spain.
The main route to Santiago follows an earlier one back in time. This leads to the very tip of the Earth, according to the beliefs of the Romans. This goes way back during the time when the Earth was thought to be flat. In fact, the endpoint of the mention Roman trade route was not Santiago, but Cape Finisterre. This translates to the “end of the world”.
What Exactly is the Camino?
During the middle ages, El Camino was one of the most important pilgrimages for those practising the Christian fate. It was an opportunity to earn the plenary indulgence. In the catholic fate, this means that it will reduce the punishment one has to suffer for the sins made during the time on Earth. Today, there is a total of seven main routes. However, traditionally, the pilgrimage started from the pilgrim’s home (anywhere around Europe) and ended in Santiago de Compostela.
The year 2019 saw a total of 347,538 pilgrims make their way to Santiago. Through the journey, each of these is identified as pilgrims by hanging scallop shells to their backpacks, the same symbol marked along the way pointing them to Santiago.
Each pilgrim looks for the ‘credential’ (the Pilgrim’s Passport) at the start of the route. This passport will be stamped twice a day, every day along the route. Each refugio or albergue will have their own unique stamps which will mark the passport every night you spend there. These are small and basic hostels dedicated to pilgrims and work on a first-come-first-served basis. A one-night stay will cost approximately €6 – €12 per person. Other places such as churches, restaurants, bars and tourism offices along the way will also be able to stamp the pilgrims’ passport.
The Beauty of the Camino
RELIGION! On our last trip to Spain, we visited the final destination point of the pilgrimage, being the square in front of the Cathedral of Santiago. We stood there for a few minutes, appreciating the beauty of the cathedral itself and the huge and happy cries of numerous pilgrims that appeared from each corner of the square. Although it is originally a Christian pilgrimage, we could easily notice the religious diversity of those completing it – Islam, Christians, Hindu, Nonreligious, you name it!
We think of the Camino as a beautiful journey that brings people together. Walking for long hours and spending night after night in different albergues will enable the pilgrim to meet new like-minded individuals, irrelevant of the race or religion. That’s exactly what religion should be all about, getting people closer together and not discriminating against others with different or no beliefs.
Why Specifically El Camino Portugues?
The most popular out of the main Camino routes is The French Way. In 2019 this route saw 54.65% of the pilgrims that completed the Camino.
El Camino Portugués starts from Lisbon, the Portuguese capital. Eventually, it goes all the way up over 600 km to Santiago de Compostela. A journey which will take us around 28 days. Personally, we believe that we would get the utmost out of this experience by taking it slowly to get the chance of submerging into both the journey, the people and the surroundings. Also, we are choosing the route that crosses through Portugal for one simple reason. We want to take this as an opportunity to explore a country which we’ve never set foot in, unlike the other routes which spend most of their days in Spain.
What do WE Want Out of This?
We’re sure many things will change until the day we take the first step from Lisbon, but at the moment, we’re portraying it to be a deep spiritual voyage in numerous ways. Mainly, we want it to be a journey that transports us from this unprecedented time spent during the pandemic. Many of the things we loved doing were always out of the question – so now we celebrate being free to enjoy one basic thing: freedom! In reality, the true meaning of this pilgrim has already started to accumulate from the first time we thought of it. We literally can’t wait to be able to start this experience as we’re sure it’ll leave an impact on us for many years to come!