Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Pilgrim places

From Salamanca, we caught a train to Lisbon on Saturday last; and after two happy days there, we are now back home again - via another five trains (Lisbon - Hendaye - Toulouse - Paris - London - Cheltenham).

R.L. Stevenson wrote that "to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive," and, although it's nice to come home, I'm inclined to think he was right, at least so far as pilgrimages are concerned. We loved our four weeks' walking on the Via de la Plata, but are not sad only to have managed half of it. Santiago de Compostela is the focus for most of the other walkers we met, but it doesn't seem to us particularly necessary to get there. Indeed, many V. de la P. pilgrims are said to be disappointed when they arrive, such is the touristy hustle and bustle of Santiago - a great contrast to the weeks spent amidst such a stunning variety of things natural, studded with mainly small places to stay en route.

Perhaps it's different for pilgrims to Fatima and Lourdes, most of whom do NOT walk there: we passed through them both on our way back from Lisbon!

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