A Traveler's Highway to Heaven, by William Bonville
For years, there has been a single book illuminating the art, architecture, history and culture along the Camino Frances. The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook by David Gitlitz & Linda Kay Davidson stood for years as the sole beacon but now we can add a second. Meet William Bonville and his latest work, A Traveler's Highway to Heaven: Exploring the History and Culture of Northern Spain on El Camino de Santiago.
William's work is a shot in the arm for the Camimophiles everywhere. He brings us an interpretive monologue of the art, architecture, history and culture along the Way of Saint James.... a thinking man's impressions of the scene that lies before you. It also includes a number of landmarks just a few kilometers off the main Path. At 400 pages, it's not exactly light, but the type is large enough to read inside a dimly lit church.
Two things which made (my first Camino) a richer Road experience were the (Gilitz and Davidson) cultural guidebook and my conversations with the locals. This book is in that same league, and yes I would carry it in spite of its weight.
This book has considerable value for those who want to connect history, art, architecture and religion to their experience on the Camino de Santiago. It is intended as a detailed three week guide to driving and walking the Camino de Santiago route from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela. Specific driving directions, including road numbers and significant features, should help the driver to navigate; and walking directions within cities are detailed to give a richly researched highlight tour of important religious and historical sites. Day by day itinerary suggestions attempt to maximize the rich historical, cultural and religious offerings the Camino provides, with a two week modification available. The glossary at the back and references for further reading throughout, make this a wonderful starting point to appreciate the Camino experience.
It is a resource pilgrims will want to read before the pilgrimage in order to better understand the richness of the historical and cultural landscape they will be passing through. Pilgrims who have returned may want to refresh their memory of their Camino by reading about and remembering what they have seen... Reading the book strengthened my resolve to walk the Camino again, but more slowly the next time.
~ Tom Friesen, Canadian Company of Pilgrims,Spring 2008
A narrative motor/walking guide to the cultural record and history encountered between Roncesvalles and Santiago de Compostela. It also involves side trips into Asturias, plus other less distant diversions from the French Road. The author says he wrote the book for those who, for reasons of time, age, disability or children tagging along, are unable to cope with an 800 kilometer hike, but still yearn for the El Camino experience.
~ American Pilgrims on the Camino