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Buen Camino Hiking the Camino de Santiago Paperback – Sep 7 2007
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book makes a good start with a readable Camino map. The trail goes mainly from east to west. In contrast to most maps, they have placed west at the top, making all the placenames easy to read.
The authors are hikers and this shows in their short but excellent forward on training and equipment. Low pack weight, quick drying, washable clothing and foot care are some of the highlights.
In the body of the book, each chapter covers a day on the trail. They soon get into the simplified priorities of the Camino: Food, shelter, companions. Just some phrases from some of the chapters: "body sprawled across the trail", "a little scary at first, but no problem", "tired, wet, muddy", "bread, chorizo, cheese, Ruffles potato chips", "greatest shower in the world", "ankle deep mud, soaking wet", "a couple of beers", "tomorrow is a shorter day", "we met up again in a bar", "today was one of those days", "Santiago", "in the pouring rain", "hugging each other and crying".
This is one of the few Camino journals where the authors stay mostly in small hotels, rather than the overcrowded refugios. There are some tips for this mode of travel, such as call ahead if you want to be sure of a place to stay.
For me, the photos are the strong point of this book. They tell the story well, and the composition is excellent. In the first printing of this book, which is the one I have, the photo print quality was poor. In the current printing, it has improved.
I recommend this book to anyone with a taste for adventure, but particularly for those thinking of going, or who have gone on the same pilgrimage.
They share practical advice and information about essential hiking gear, developing a walking routine, and arranging accommodations. Valuable tips such as stuffing newspapers in wet boots to dry them out from rain provide insight into the challenges faced while being a pilgrim. Interesting notes about Spanish customs (in Spain bells ring at least once every hour) and food found in towns on the route (common restaurant fare includes meat, French fries, and ice cream) are sprinkled throughout the book.
Jim and Eleanor also express the significance of the Camino to them -- that undertaking the walk brings "simple but rewarding successes" and that "the Camino is a break from the complications of modern-day life". Focus on the moment and let the journey unfold. The down-to-earth recording of their story would be a helpful reference for anyone planning to trek the Camino. So walk along with the Clems as they follow the yellow arrow markers and discover why the Camino is a "great adventure and the trip of a lifetime"!
I also really enjoyed the consistent structure of the chapters. Although there were definitely different adventures along the way, you knew that the author would cover the same important points in each chapter for those who are truly interested in what it's like to live on the trail day after day - such as weather conditions, accommodations, food, people, etc. The photos at the end of each chapter are also excellent and are a nice visual recap to the accompanying chapter.
While I only had mild interest in hiking the Camino before I read this book, I definitely now have significant interest in making this a future adventure for my spouse and me.
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