Before I made my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in 1997, I had many questions that were not addressed in any of the available guides. During my journey, I learned additional things that had not been addressed. After more than two years of continuing study of the Camino, I still found existing guides inadequate for the needs of Americans interested in making a pilgrimage to Santiago. Indeed none adequately address the question as to why an American, particularly a non-Catholic, would want to do so. Existing guides are written from a European perspective and thus approach the Camino de Santiago with certain assumptions. In addition, while there are several interesting accounts written by Americans, they do not contain sufficient information for someone to plan a trip from the United States.

I hope to provide enough information for anyone to understand why they would benefit from following one of the many routes to Santiago, and if they decide to make the journey, understand how to go about doing it and what to expect. I hope this book will lead many to conclude that they are neither too old nor out of shape to make the trek. In any case, hopefully they will enjoy reading about the Camino and have a better understanding of what thousands of other people are doing every year following in the footsteps of millions of people over the centuries.

When I travel, I normally carry several guidebooks so that I have information from different sources addressing all aspects (culture, food, lodging) of the area I will be visiting. Since those who walk the Camino need to travel light, and thus cannot carry several guides, I have included basic travel information, including a limited number of Spanish terms or phrases, in this guide, so that it can serve in place of multiple books. Everything is focused on information that a pilgrim might need on the Camino.

Although this guide is written for an American audience, with few exceptions, distances used in this guide are specified in kilometers. This may cause a little initial confusion but these are the units which will be encountered on the roadside, in maps and other guides to the Camino. A simple rule of thumb: to obtain the distance in miles, multiply the distance in kilometers by 0.6.

Throughout this guide, I have adopted the convention of using the local spelling of all place names. Thus Sevilla is used instead of Seville, the English spelling of the name. Similarly, Lisbon becomes Lisboa. Basque is a difficult and uncommon language and I have shown the Spanish term in parentheses following Basque names. This is not intended to be a political statement, merely a convention to facilitate comparison with local signs.

This guide is primarily written for those who will travel the Camino on foot but it also provides useful information for those who prefer to travel on bicycle or by horseback.

© Copyright 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2016 Richard W. Tripp, Jr.