When I started my journey on the Camino de Santiago, I was lucky enough to meet a nun who gave advice to the pilgrims before starting the walk. She told us that the road was going to speak to us and that we should listen to it with our hearts. For this, we should keep our minds silent. Therefore, I transmit her message to you, in case you are thinking of embarking on this journey.
There are several roads to arrive at Santiago de Compostela. The Via de la Plata (The Silver Road) is one of them. And to begin, look for train travel to Sevilla, where this route starts.
The Via de la Plata crosses six provinces: Andalucía (Sevilla), Extremadura (Badajoz and Cáceres), Castilla y León (Salamanca and Zamora) y Galicia (Orense, Pontevedra and La Coruña). We have 1000 km to walk and takes between 6 to 8 weeks to finish. This is one of the most solitary pilgrimage options in Spain and it is the perfect setting to make of this pilgrimage a daily 8 hours walking meditation. Make sure that your backpack does not weight more than 10 kilos (around 22 pounds), that you have good trekking shoes and your socks are perfectly fitted.
The road is filled with refuges for pilgrims. Some of them will ask you for a donation to stay and the rest will have very low prices – starting at 5 euros. In some cases, you will be nicely surprised with free breakfast, although if you are vegan, bring your own.
At Seville, you must look for a pilgrim passport (credencial de peregrino), a little booklet that will become proof (and souvenir) of your experience. This passport will be provided by the refuge where you stay at the beginning of your journey. And from now on, the host of the refuge where you stay will stamp it at your arrival.
The day starts early, at 7 in the morning. When I made my trip, I did not think that earplugs were necessary. I was wrong. In most cases, you will share a room with several people and, sometimes, the place to sleep will be a hangar with tons of beds. Be sure to arrive early because the beds fill up quickly, especially in high season.
The nun I mentioned earlier also advised us to look at the sides of the road as we walked. She said that we could find God in the rocks, in the grass, in the birds … Regardless of whether you believe in God or not, the road will give you mystical experiences. You just need to open up to them.
Sometimes, you will feel so tired that you will ask yourself what were you thinking when you decided to start this journey. You are in the middle of nowhere, there are no taxis around, no town on the horizon and your only choice is to keep going, otherwise…
The variety of terrains and landscapes that you will find on The Silver Road is enough for a wonderful encounter with nature. In addition, you will pass through historic sites, little towns, and big cities with a rich cultural heritage. You will have the opportunity to meet with your demons and with your greatness. The Pilgrim’s Way.