I have spent the past two days pouring over my Santiago guides as well as my personal budget book and I’ve realized something — with diligence, and the omission of a few certain vices, I can afford to hike the Camino de Santiago for my thirtieth birthday.I’ve found flights, train schedules, and thanks to the map book Camino de Santiago by John Brierley, a hiking schedule that not only fits into my plans, but seems to be perfectly laid out so that I arrive in Santiago in time for my birthday.
I’m a bit awestruck at how aligned everything has become. By following the daily hiking guide laid out by Brierley I’ll be arriving in Santiago on March 20, the day before my birthday. This would give me time to obtain my compostela, settle into my hostel and explore the city. Then, on my actual birthday, I’ll have the whole day to myself to relax and attend the Pilgrim’s Mass. Perfect.
To treat myself on the night of my Dirty Thirty, I’m even considering staying here:
Welcome to the Parador Hostal de los Reyes Católicos, often considered to be the oldest hotel in the world dating back to 1499. I still have to see if it’s even an option considering Paradores are usually quite pricey, but maybe if I become a miser and save my pennies I’ll be able to do it. And if I can? HAPPY. BIRTHDAY. TO. ME.
Here’s what my schedule will look like if this all works out:
Wednesday, March 5 — fly to Madrid via New York
Thursday, March 6 — arrive in Madrid, stay one night
Friday, March 7 — take the train to León, stay one night
Saturday, March 8 — Hiking Day 1: León to Villar de Mazarife 23.1 km
Sunday, March 9 — Hiking Day 2: Villar de Mazarife to Astroga 30.1 km
Monday, March 10 — Hiking Day 3: Astroga to Rabanal del Camino 21.4 km
Tuesday, March 11 — Hiking Day 4: Rabanal del Camino to Molinaseca 26.5 km
Wednesday, March 12 — Hiking Day 5: Molinaseca to Villafranca del Bierzo 30.7 km
Thursday, March 13 — Hiking Day 6: Villafrance del Bierzo to O’Cebreiro 30.9 km
Friday, March 14 — Hiking Day 7: O’Cebreiro to Triacastela 20.7 km
Saturday, March 15 — Hiking Day 8: Triacastela to Sarria 25 km
Sunday, March 16 — Hiking Day 9: Sarria to Portomarín 22.9 km
Monday, March 17 — Hiking Day 10: Portomarín to Palas de Rei 26.1 km
Tuesday, March 18 — Hiking Day 11: Palas de Rei to Ribadiso 26.4 km
Wednesday, March 19 — Hiking Day 12: Ribadiso to Arco do Pino 22.2 km
Thursday, March 20 — Hiking Day 13: Arco do Pino to Santiago 20.6 km
Friday, March 21 — MY 30th BIRTHDAY 🙂 Free day in Santiago
Saturday, March 22 — Take the train from Santiago back to Madrid, stay one night
Sunday, March 23 — Fly home to Toronto via Amsterdam, arrive in the early evening
In those thirteen days of hiking I’ll be covering 326.6 kilometres. I better get me some badass hiking boots to ensure my feet are well equipped (oh, and hey, to any family members who may read this — need a Christmas gift idea for me? A Mountain Equipment Co-op gift card would be FABULOUS ;)).
The worst thing about doing the hike in March is the weather. March is apparently a very wet month in northwest Spain, but I figure as long as I invest in one of these, I’ll be fine. I may look like a muppet or a cartoon character wrapped up in all that blue nylon, but I’m determined to be in Santiago for my birthday, regardless of how rained upon I may get in the process.
So there it is, folks. Looks like I’ll finally be hiking the Camino after six years of saying I’d do it. I better start brushing up on my Spanish!