Has anyone else been to see The Way about the Camino de Santiago? I was incredibly moved by it. I did visit Santiago de Compostella a few years ago so have put my hands in the indentations made by pilgrims over the centuries, but would love to do the walk when I finally retire (2 or 3 years' time, probably). Trouble is I am scared of dogs so don't think I could do it on my own. Has anyone out there got any advice about organised groups for older people?
My parents did a pilgrimage tour which included Santiago de Compostela with their church. The people were all of a similar age group and they took in Lourdes as well they thoroughly enjoyed it.
You could ask at a reputable travel agent's if they have some brochures covering a trip to Santiago de Composela and explain you wish to go in a group.
I found these sites http://www.totalcatholic.com/tc/index.php?view=article&id=503
I subscribe to Woman Alive http://www.womanalive.co.uk/ A woman's Christian magazine that is very interesting and I have gained a lot from it. There are often advertisements for holidays trips and pilgramages in there.
I walked (the best) bits of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela for 12 days in June 2010. It was an indescribable experience--words like 'amazing' and 'incredible' do not do the experience justice. I found a group by searching the web. It was led by an American social anthropologist, Nancy Frey, who had done her PhD research on Camino pilgrims ('Pilgrim Stories On and Off the Road to Santiago' by Nancy Frey). When doing her research she had met her partner Jose, (a native of Santiago) and they now lead the tours together, with Jose making the most wonderful lunchtime picnics! The size of each group is limited to 14 people and you average 10 miles walking a day--with a picnic break. As Nancy insists, there is no 'right' way to do the Camino. Some walk the whole way, I was not up for that, but with Nancy, we took a minibus to the start of each day's walk--then we walked (each at our own pace) along the pilgrim route (yellow painted arrows, or scallop shells marking the way) through fields, up and down hills, woods, by streams etc etc from Pamplona to Santiago. Each night we would stop at pre-booked accomodation. Nancy would arrange to meet us at any interesting/historic/ beautiful place along the way, and tell us about it. When I went we were accompanied for some of the time by Nancy and Jose's 4 year old son! It was not a cheap way to do it, but it was worth every penny. When we finished in Santiago, I took myself on to Finisterre (Finis Terra--the place that medieval pilgrims thought to be literally the end of the earth-hence its name) where I stayed for a couple of days to wind down and think about so many things that happened on the Camino. For me it was a soul-searching experience and, at times, quite emotional. Pilgrims often (traditionally) take a pebble from home to lay at the foot of La Cruz de Ferro--in the belief/hope it will lead to healing of the problem that is bothering them. I did this, and it was a moving and hopeful experience. I suggest you look for >onfootinspain< on the internet. I had read Shirley MacLaine's 'The Camino' which was impressive but daunting (esp about dogs!!), Paul Coelho's 'The Pilgrimage' interesting and esoteric, and quite a few other books--I also loved Brian Sewell's DVD 'The Naked Pilgrim', which flagged up some of the beautiful places I did not want to miss en route. The fact that he 'did' the Camino in his elderly Mercedes demonstrated Nancy's point that there is no 'correct' way to do it. Another book I found useful was Joyce Rupp's 'Walk in a Relaxed Manner' and the advice contained in that title stood me in very good stead when I was feeling tired or pressured as the other group members strode past me at a much faster pace! One friend I made when walking the Camino with Nancy last year, has now decided to walk it by herself--but has to allow herself a much longer time--and she is very fit. Incidentally I had almost reached my three-score-years-and-ten when I did it, and although reasonably fit, I am not an experienced walker (although I don't have a car) and I don't belong to a gym--so if I can do it, anyone who is reasonably fit can do it.
I am still trying to find a cinema showing 'The Way'. I read about it on Nancy's blog, as she went to the first showing, last November, in Santiago and met with Martin Sheen and his son. But its venue whereabouts in London and the UK seem amazingly well hidden! Go for it! or 'Ultreya peregrina' (go forward with courage, pilgrim--the greeting everyone says when seeing other pilgrims on the Camino)