On 01MAR23, I will be flying from the United States to Gibraltar where I will meet my brother (VT class of 1986) and his wife on a 700-mile hike from Gibraltar through Seville (southwestern Spain) to Lisbon and Porto (Portugal) and on to Santiago de Compostela (northwestern Spain).
Each year 10s of thousands of pilgrims pass through Spain and Portugal on variations of the Camino de Santiago (which is Spanish for Way of Saint James). The cathedral within the city of Santiago de Compostela is said to contain the body of Saint James.
Our adventure is a rather significant variation of the Camino de Santiago. We have planned a route that passes through areas of deep historical interest, varied architecture and scenery, rich in culinary experiences and some pretty incredible wine.
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory which has long held a strategic role of guarding of the Straits of Gibraltar which connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It also hosts the only wild monkeys of Europe. Seville is where King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel sent Columbus on his way to the Americas and just north of the city is the birthplace of the man who became Roman emperor Hadrian of Hadrian's Wall fame. Along the way, there are medieval castles, magnificent cathedrals, and examples of Moorish architecture.
This will be the hardest physical thing that I have ever attempted. My brother and his wife have done several long hikes like this, and I have followed their crazy "vacations" online and I have been intrigued. Part of the appeal of this to me is the challenge to do something exceptional and part of it is to see and experience new things. But perhaps the most appealing thing about this trip is its way of making things simple. I spend a lot of time following our Hokies, reading about politics, taking care of my responsibilities at home, etc. But when you are walking the Camino, all ... you ... have ... to ... do ... is ... take ... the ... next ... step. That simplicity has a lot of appeal to me at this stage of my life (76).
We will Vlog the entire journey at Rock2Santiago.com If you're interested in seeing what we're up to an all the amazing sites we'll see, please follow us and message us on that site – it really helps us navigate the many miles when we know folks are staying in touch back home.
Good luck. You should join my hiking, backpacking or trekking group on LinkedIn.
You're going to VLog it?!?!?! Haven't you watched a single movie about hiking in the woods with a camera? Spoiler alert, there is a murderer on the loose. I hope you brought enough rope and a Hatchett to have an epic hiking battle on the side of a cliff.
P.S The hike sounds really nice, have fun!
A friend of mine did this hike last year. You're going to be amazed.
Did you graduate in '76 or are you 76? either way, that's an impressive adventure. (I graduated in '76).
Which is your trip on Rock2Santiago?
I was referring to M and A or N and K. Figured it out from your photo.
Without knowing you, and thinking of my own dreams and bucket list, I'm impressed by your drive and passion. I've been wanting to do more hiking and this motivates me.
I'll be following.
Our trip starts in Gibraltar near the southernmost point of Spain.
I have a jpeg map of Spain that shows our route but could not find the instructions on how to post it. If someone can provide those instructions, then I'll edit the original posting to include it.
if it's this one, i took the liberty of pulling it from your website and embedding it here.
it's easiest to share images that are already uploaded to the web. generally, right click the online image and "copy image address", then come to TKP comment box and click the first icon on the top-left above the comment box and paste the link there. click "insert" and voila, the code will appear in the comment box
Thanks. That helps quite a bit.
The graphic I made used the same map but I annotated it to locate the major locations along the way.
I am 76 and graduated in 1969 ... yes, I'm an old guy.
Seriously, that sounds like an amazing trip. I'm only 52, and I would have a hard time with 10% of that. Looks like I got to put in some work over the next 24 years to work up to that!
Sounds fascinating! I have a good amount of Spanish heritage, both from Galicia and Basque Country. I got a chance to travel there back in 2011 with my brother and parents and we spent 10 days driving around the country. It was a tremendous experience.
I'll be sure to check out the website and do my best to follow along your trip.
Wow, that's is going to be incredible. I saw a documentary on this pilgrimage several years back, it looked amazing. This is going to be spiritual and life changing. How long will you take to do it (I expect your answer is as long as it takes, but maybe you have an estimate)?
Yes, you are right, i.e., as long as it takes. It is planned as a 70-plus day hike with some zero milage days built in.
My brother's youngest daughter is graduating with her doctorate in Physical Therapy in mid-May, so he and his wife must get back for that.
My youngest sister and her husband are taking a more traditional Camino de Portugues and meeting up with us in Lisbon. Her oldest daughter has a baby due in mid-May so she must get back for that birth.
My wife is going to join us in Porto and walk the last 125 miles. We do not have the deadlines that my other siblings have. How her hip (hip replacement surgery in December 2021) holds up will determine our pace.
this is absolutely awesome!!
will you be backpacking/camping along the way? or finding accommodations wherever possible?
We intend to stay in Pilgram hostels (known as alburges) when we can because the cost, but sometimes (especially early in the trip) we will be in hotels. Because we are not starting on an established Camino route, the infrastructure is not nearly as well established.
Camping was considered but our packs, about 20 pounds each, are heavy enough without including tents, sleeping bags, cooking gear, etc. Twenty pounds does not sound like all that much, but my shoulders can really feel every gram toward the end of a hike. Plus. in some parts of Europe, the refugee problem has created ill will toward those that wild camp and campgrounds were not easy to find along our chosen path.
Spain is amazing. I have been to both Gibraltar and Seville - though via riding in a car. I can barely imagine the amount of sights you will see and stories you will hear. And the wine is fantastic and cheap. It has been 5 years and I still predominately drink Spanish red wine, when I drink wine. Enjoy!
Do you have some favorite wines or wine regions you would like to share?
I tend to lean toward the tempranillo which is in the Rioja region. Bodegas Santa Rufina is one of the wineries that stood out to me, but it is north of Madrid and not on your route. I am also not a wine enthusiast and I found it all very drinkable. There were maybe one or two the whole time we were in Spain I did not like. Salut!
We finished a bottle of tempranillo earlier this week. Looking forward to more soon!
What about sherry and brandy? You will be passing through sherry country on the way to Seville. I lived in Spain for 3 years when I was growing up. It is great.
Wow, this looks like a lot of fun! I can't wait to see how it goes and hope my future retirement is filled with such adventures.
Me and the wife did 56 miles in three days on the West Highland Way back in the summer and I thought I was a badass. This sounds fucking awesome man. We'll be keeping up!
We had made plans to hike Hadrian's Wall last summer as prep for this Camino but my wife's hip had not healed enough from her hip replacement surgery and had to cancel.
I have family in Scotland and love the country side throughout the UK. I'll bet the West Highland Way was fantastic!
Nice. last year I visited Sevilla, Lisbon and Porto, but I rented a car and drove between them..
enjoy the walk!
When I get tired and / or the slope is hard, I tend to let my eyes focus on the ground four to five feet ahead of me. I am hoping that I will be in good enough shape to "look around and smell the roses" as we go.
I was not in good enough shape, sad to say. There are many, Many, MANY slopes that seem only to go up. And "every'" final destination of the day seems to be at the top of a hill.
However, I'm glad I'm here and I'm gradually walking my way into shape. My brother and sister-in-law have been very patient.
"When I get tired and / or the slope is hard, I tend to let my eyes focus on the ground four to five feet ahead of me"
That is the exact same thing that I would do on long distance runs back when my knees allowed me to do 10K-half marathon on a regular basis + the 1 marathon.
You will make it!
Bon voyage, VTCC-69!
First time logging in since arriving.
We have made it to less than 80 km to Portugal. I gone through a bad cold, blisters and sore legs but things are looking up. If folks haven't looked at the vlog (Rock2Santiago.com), you are missing a treat. There is a video clip of one of the monkeys jumping on my brother's back that is quite humorous.
Bon Camino and Go Hokies!
Awesome! Its good to hear you are in Spain and on your way. Sorry to hear about the blisters though - to steal Frank, they will get after you.
I tried to find the monkey clip. Can anyone tell me where it is?
Amazing trip. I'm envious.
This is incredible. Love all the orange and maroon as well. Thanks for sharing!
Good luck, hope we get to see more.
Doh. Skipped right over the first post thinking the monkeys wouldn't be in the city area. Didn't know the history of the Barbary macaques.
I was getting vertigo watching the walk down Gibraltar.
My thighs were sore from all that continuous downhill/down steps that it affected me for days after.
We passed the 150 mile milestone are in the town of Aroche. In two days we should be walking into Portugal., about 40 kilometers away.
Keep it up Rodney! You're doing great! I've been following your family's vlog and am really enjoying the descriptions and photos. You got this buddy......it's all about the journey!