HOME FROM THE CAMINO

Last year we spoke to three travellers who were journeying to the Camino de Santiago de Compostela with The Divine Destination Collection to ask how they were preparing for the trip, and what their expectations were. As promised, we have caught up with them after the May 2019 trip to find out what they experienced.

A SPIRITUAL PORTAL

Jenny Grajpel has always been attracted to exploring the spiritual side of life, so it was the spiritual aspect of the Camino that had really called to her – and it didn’t disappoint.

“I was aware that the Camino was a spiritual portal, or area of high energy concentration – so I knew what to expect and I was open to connecting to it,” says Jenny. “I experienced beautiful insights, transformation, and clarity.”

Jenny also loved the group experience. “I didn’t have to think about things. Everything was taken care of from the moment I was picked up – meals, hotel, transportation. And the standards were very high. I loved being pampered with such outstanding food and wine.

“I remember backpacking in my 20s and spending so much time looking for a place to stay and figuring out where to eat. So I fully understand and appreciate the effort put into all the arrangements.”

The highlight of the trip for Jenny was travelling by horse on the last day of the Camino. “It was wonderful to connect with the horse and see things from a different perspective. After we dismounted, we had a superb lunch in a meadow with wine, rice, seafood and Serrano ham – then we walked the last leg of the journey into Santiago.”

WALKING WITH OTHERS

Kathy Zurla had an idea of what the Camino was going to be like from books and films, “but until you physically experience the Camino, it is completely different,” she says.

“The beautiful Galician countryside, architecture, historical pilgrim stories, and all the different weather elements. It was continually magical.”

A big part of the magic came from the diverse group of people she travelled with on the adventure, says Kathy. “Many had insights into the spiritual side of the journey, pointing out how to allow your heart to stay open to the adventures and signs that can occur along the path.

“I don’t normally have these opportunities in my everyday life, so it allowed for new personal learning and self awareness experiences.”

Although Kathy trained for the trip by walking five to seven miles a day, she says the 100-kilometre trail wasn’t incredibly strenuous. “It’s very doable, even without training.”

A yoga instructor was also on hand to lead the group through stretches first thing in the morning and at the end of the day’s walking to help avoid sore muscles.

Kathy says the trip was extra special for her because she was joined by some lifelong friends from school in Tokyo. “We were like kids again. We relived those Tokyo days and what that meant to us going through life now. Our friendships were made even stronger after walking and experiencing the Camino together. The trip also allowed for making new friends as the group all got along so well together.

“I’m happy that I didn’t go into this trip with a lot of expectations. I allowed myself to experience each day as it happened. The Divine Destination Collection also added the luxury element, which was an extra layer of wonderfulness! This trip truly exceeded any hope I may have had – it was fabulous!”

OVERWHELMED BY HISTORY

The physical challenge of walking 100 kilometres is what led Victoria Worley to the Camino – but she ended up finding it less taxing than she expected, even when carrying a 10-pound backpack. “It was peaceful walking each day,” she says. “You had the whole day to get to your destination. There was no rushing.”

Leaving the world behind and focusing on herself is what Victoria found she enjoyed the most. “You wake up, eat breakfast, and walk. You don’t worry about anything but your own happiness, and how you chose to live your day.

“I never used my phone except to take photos. I never checked my email. It was like being a child again.”

Victoria admits the first day was a bit overwhelming because of the unknown journey ahead, but connecting with the group made all the difference. “I walked with a different person each day. They were all ages and from all walks of life. Whether they knew it or not, everyone had so much to offer me.

“All you had to do was walk and be with yourself, or listen to someone. It makes you so self-aware. I felt I could be who I really am.”

Victoria felt overwhelmed again at the end, when the group made the final walk to the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.

“Three hundred years ago someone was walking this route. People have been walking this for so long. I was overcome with emotion at the significance of getting to this spot.

“It was a great 10 days. I’d go again in a heartbeat.”

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