The Best Way: El Camino de Santiago
Since the times of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, Americans have headed off to Europe on odysseys of self-improvement. But until recently, Americans have not chosen ‘the best way’—El Camino de Santiago. Bill Walker (“Skywalker”) decided to undertake this 500 mile trek, that stretches from the Pyrenees in southern France to Santiago in Northwest Spain. Better yet, he did it in the ‘Holy Year’ of 2010. Fully 200,000 pilgrims were struggling on foot to make it to the Great Gothic Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.
The Camino is supposed to be a religious-spiritual pilgrimage. But Walker had also been told that it was “The European Divorcee Trail.” At Walker’s side was his 18 year-old nephew, Gavin, who thrives with his special brand of Fonzie-like charm. The towel-snapping banter between the two of them is reminiscent of the frat-boy dialogue between Bill Bryson and Katz. Better yet, the two of them learn just how delightful the French really can be (except, of course, when they’re being impossible), why the Germans are almost all model pilgrims, and the tragi-glorious roots of the Spanish national character.