´The Best Way–El Camino de Santiago (2012), a cutting-edge look at Europe´s wildly popular spiritual pilgrimage, is available for free for Amazon Prime members. The book is written by Bill Walker, the 6´11´´ author of Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail (2008), and Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail (2010).
This 800 kilometer (500 mile) trek from St. Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain is sometimes referred to as the ´Áppalachian Trail of Europe´. 200,000 pilgrims per year attempt this spiritual pilgrimage.The French and Germans, as well as the Spanish, are the most represented nations, followed by Italy and Ireland. Americans have finally begun to discover the Camino de Santiago in significant numbers, helped by the recent release of the Hollywood movie, The Way, starring Martin Sheen and directed by Emilio Estevez.
The Camino de Santiago has the most ecumenical population of participants imaginable. People of all ages and all abilities undertake this pilgrimage. While there are occasionally long climbs and harsh weather, modern pilgrims have an extensive support network available. The Camino de Santiago is considered significantly less difficult than either the Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail, yet is obviously much more strenuous than a conventional vacation. For that reason Walker titled his book, ´The Best Way´. He considers the Camino to be the perfectly balanced form of travel. Better yet, it is the most economical way to see the old continent of Europe.