Tim’s Camino de Santiago

Package holidays eluded me for the first three decades of my life.

And when I did dip a toe into the delights of cattle herding on cheap flights and apartments at Mediterranean resorts, it lasted all of three one-week holidays.

My idea of holidays was picking up a rucksack and travelling around, either using public transport, or walking long distance footpaths.

En ruta
En ruta. Tim. Not me. Obviously

So, when Susan Toy asked if I would be interested in reviewing My Camino Walk by Timothy L. Phillips, I was intrigued. A double bonus, a long distance walk, and set in Spain.

Intriguing read
Intriguing read

Oddly when Phillips gives reasons for why people do the walk, he doesn’t include the simple one that people enjoy long distance walking. He concentrates on the spiritual aspects, and the journey of personal discovery as main reasons. Some years ago, some Spanish friends asked us if we wanted to join them on it. We politely declined, what would we do with the dogs? It sounded more polite than saying we don’t want to walk with you.

I have to say I’m impressed that a 60-year-old man decided to walk 800kms from south-western France to north-western Spain, Santiago de Compostela in Galicia province. Not something I’d be up to right now despite being a few years short of 60.

Phillips tells his story in three ways really:

  • His practical daily walk, the weather, aches and pains, stopping for meals – foodies will be pleased to hear there are quite a few meals described – his accommodation for the night, and descriptions of the countryside and some of the towns he passes through or stays in.
  • In keeping with a journey of self discovery, he also revisits his past, and reflects on the good, the not so good, and how things turned out.
  • Finally, he observes other walkers on the camino, and we get to know many of the people he meets, walks with, separates from and reunites with later. It’s a fascinating dynamic.

I found it an easy and relaxing read. Probably because I wasn’t the one walking 800kms, so armchair/sofa walking was extremely pleasant.

Some of the shared intimacies, ie conversations, between the walkers seemed very in-your-face. Not sure I could have handled them. To me walking is about enjoying nature, local architecture, local food, rather than sharing your life history with a complete stranger. Or being interrogated by them. Each to our own.

For me though, it was a real page turner, and I looked forward to picking it up each day, and travelling a little further.

Each chapter was titled with the route of the day, although I would have liked day numbers too. I guess they were similar to the chapter numbers. A route map would have been excellent for this travel planner.

Finally, I was impressed by the long epilogue. It was a total surprise and an excellent way to finish the book. A very good ending.

My Camino Walk is a good read if you are into reading about walks and/or introspection/self reflection.

I’ve read other books about personal journeys through Spain, Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out being the classic. P D Murphy published a book two years ago called As I Walked Out Through Spain In Search Of Laurie Lee. This was a decent read, but faltered on the editing, especially on inconsistencies in the Spanish, and seriously irritating literal translations after every single Spanish comment. Phillips, on the other hand, avoids that annoying technique.

However, when considering friends who might join him for the walk, he ruled out one because they were vegetarian! Now, that was annoying.

Later he said to his friend Pepe:

“Oh, I didn’t realize that it was possible to survive as a vegetarian in Spain. It’s a bit of a pork lover’s paradise here, isn’t it?”

Aaaaagh! And I’ve been here 15 years. However Pepe puts him right:

“No, no, we have everything,” Pepe says dismissively and a touch defensively. “There are some very good vegetarian restaurants in Madrid. There›s a vegetarian restaurant in this town just two-minutes’ walk from the church. We’ll see what they have.”


The meal is ordinary without showing any great culinary expertise, though I am intrigued to experience a Spanish vegetarian restaurant and make a mental note for the friend whose potential participation in this journey I had rejected.

I’ve had some excellent vegetarian meals in Spain, my favourite restaurants being in Tarragona, Málaga, and Los Boliches. I think we were the only foreigners in the first two.

Onto a proper excerpt though:

Perhaps deciding when to call it quits is as much a part of the Camino as continuing to the very end. It’s a letting go, an unloading of baggage, an acceptance of the inevitable when we’re forced to face no longer being able to do the physical things that were possible when we were younger.
There’s no shame in having tried our best, especially as we get older. There’s therefore as much learning to be gained from ending the walk prematurely as there is from walking to the end. I might rationalize it this way, but I would hate to be in that situation—I possess a stubbornness that demands I continue to the bitter end.
I wonder about this choice of words: why does the end have to be bitter? Perhaps it’s bitter if one fights all the way. It’s possible to be graceful by letting go without fighting.
I surmise that death is the final liberation. This doesn’t have to be bitter either. It’s only another stage of life. Bitter suggests we fear the experience or that we regret how past events transpired. It’s one thing to hold on for a long time, but not to the point of anguish. However, what do I know about the subject of dying? I’m no expert, only a student in the art of living attempting, albeit sometimes imperfectly, to be here in the present moment.
Where on earth am I going with this train of thought? Sounds a bit morbid. All I’m doing is taking a bus to León. I’m not letting go and not dying, as far as I can tell. There’s still another thirty minutes before the bus is scheduled to depart, so I take a short walk to get some fresh air.


Timothy L. Phillips, went from hospitality to healing, managing luxury hotels and restaurants in London, Paris, Vancouver and Toronto before entering the healing profession in 1994 as a shiatsu and massage therapist.
Through walking the Camino, he has gained precious insight about his own inner journey as well as bearing witness to the journeys of others.
He lives in Toronto with Patricia, his life partner.
For more information: http://www.caminodetim.com

All photos courtesy of Tim. Thanks to Tim and Susan for a copy of his book, and for the pix.


63 comments on “Tim’s Camino de Santiago

  1. I’ll forward this to our daughter, who walked the Camino (I think!) about twelve years ago. . we’ve heard many stories about it, that’s for sure. Sounds like a very interesting book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s well written and is a good mix of observational walking and the people thing. I’ve done LDWs but nothing like this, be interested to hear your daughter’s take. I did backpack my LDWs. Camped all the way. No wimpy stuff me. Ruffy tuffy ruffyseas.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A very nice review. Can’t buy the book this year but maybe next year if it has been out for a while and is available as a used book. I admire the folks that have walked those miles, but I have yet to understand why one must go out in the boon docks- hike rugged terrain, sail the seas, climb a mountain or, walk many miles in order to “discover” themselves.


      • Directed to Carmen. I couldn’t get my reply to Carmen to open up in my dashboard, to let me type. (I’m typing on Ms Gib’s blog).Yes, those things are adventures but they seem too reckless and dangerous except for the walking part in a relatively safe environment- walking in Spain.


        • If I remember correctly, the only thing that scared my daughter (she was with another person) was the dogs that would come running out at them. Oh, and they also almost got their backpacks ‘picked’ in a square in one of the villages. .. An old lady saw what was going on and attacked the would-be thieves with her cane.
          I do love adventures but of the safe and comfortable variety! :)

          Liked by 2 people

          • Interesting that the bad and good often balance each other out. I was standing in Málaga bus station waiting to go to the airport and someone tried to raid my bag on my shoulder. A Spaniard immediately intervened saying, ‘what do you think you’re doing?’ Attempted crim slunk off quickly. And I thanked the man for his help.


  3. Walk is what we do every day. It’s more of an obsession with our JR Terrier ‘Milo.’ He starts shaking pathetically and blackmails us into finally grabbing the lead. Once he sees the lead, he goes berserk and prances up and down the stairs in a state of great exultation. He is merciless. What can you do but heed his need to take him for the walk? It’s not the Camino de Santiago walk but pretty close. I mean, every day, rain or shine!
    So far, it hasn’t given us greater insight. We still wonder how a small dog can be so domineering.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Walking and travel are interlinked for me because that’s how I like to get to know a place by just walking around and around. Also I bush walk, or hike, or ramble or whatever whenever I get the chance. The thing that puts me off walking the Camino is that it seems to come with the idea that if you walk it you will have some sort of epiphany.


    • Without a doubt walking lets you see and experience so much more. Let alone that it’s good for you. I can’t imagine any sort of epiphany over and above the answers to, will I get a bed for the night, will these blisters go away, will I bump into that irritating person again. Interesting how the numbers of people walking it have shot up. Also seems somewhat self indulgent being able to take so long for a holiday.


  5. Truly roughseas, I found this post fascinating. I’ve only ever walked to get somewhere – it never occurred to me to walk for the enjoyment. It sounds delightful.


  6. I loved long walks.
    But this is a long, long way to go, and I can understand how it would transform and even heal a traveler. Big congratulations to Tim, for making the walk and for writing his book. He must feel very accomplished. It sounds like an interesting book!
    Thanks to you for telling us about this book, K.


    • So did I. And like you, the current word is ‘loved’. Not ‘love’.
      I’ve probably only done a quarter of that. Although in a week and camping. But I wasn’t sixty either.
      It reminded me of yours. It was the personal journey aspect. If you read it, your views would be interesting. Not the same journey, but still a personal achievement.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Isn’t Santiago de Compostela where Saint James’ bones are said to reside? Saint James is the patron saint of Spain, so he has special significance to the Spanish, and the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, I believe, has been a major undertaking for many centuries.

    Your review is very well done. I like the fact that the book appears to be well rounded – rather than simply focusing on himself, the writer apparently covers a wide swath of subjects. These sorts of books always make for good reading; you can learn a lot about a region that would otherwise go unnoticed without actually visiting.


    • Yes, although from memory, I think the evidence is pretty scanty. Some sources claim he never went to Spain! :D

      Seems to have become trendy of late. No idea why. Middle aged people finding themselves? With enough money to do so? The challenge?

      Thank you. I thought Tim did approach his book from all aspects. Not just ME, but what he saw, observed, felt, thought, and enjoyed. What’s not to like in a book like that? I did feel for him rushing for a bed at the end of the day. Been there, done that. And the odd gastro blow-out, with a few drinks. It was an honest book, perhaps that was why it resonated.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve wondered about James and Spain, as well. Given the limits of transportation 2000 years ago Spain seemed a mighty long haul from Jerusalem.

        I’d enjoy the chance to do something like a long jaunt, but I’m not so sure about the “finding myself” bit. I found about as much of myself as I care to. Any more might be more than I could bear to stand. Why not travel, trek, etc., for the simple adventure of it?

        By the way, the absolute worst book along these lines is Eat Pray Love. What a self-centered boob the author is. It’s too bad she didn’t keep secret what she discovered when she found herself.


        • Well, there was transport between North Africa and the Roman Empire, Egypt, the bread basket, is the classic example. But yes, why would James wander to the far north-west of Spain?

          Jaunts are good, time and money permitting. Most people usually have one, but not both. Anything near finding myself was probably on my world trip, when usefully I found a husband. Of far more benefit.

          That title doesn’t sound good to me. Although I might look it up out of curiosity. I’m more, eat, drink, sleep, walk.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Such a lovely review and what an adventure this must have been. Great photos included as well. Definitely something I would love to read and you know I am not a huge reader. :D ♥


    • Thank you darling. I think it would be a good adventure too. I thought nothing of long distance walking in my youth, but with old age comes creaking joints and a different ache or pain every week. So I admire someone a number of years older than me not just doing it once but twice. And contemplating a third one!!
      Tim sent me loads of pix and I wanted to include more, but iPad was being cantankerous :( Bad iPad. (Shouldn’t really write that or it will behave even worse!)
      I think this is one for reading not a film. What was interesting to read as he journeyed on wouldn’t provide an action film. Well apart from the section where he overindulges in calamari and white wine :D

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome and yes, it’s the same here. Now it’s the same as there by you. Can’t walk for too long. Every muscle and joint creaks and ache with every step … and so on and so on. No use in complaining. LOL!

        I admire people like that as well. I wouldn’t even think about a first one, let alone a third one.

        Bad iPad indeed. I will have a nice chat with it. :D

        Definitely. With a read like this you have to use your imagination and refer to the beautiful photos included. No film can bring out the atmosphere and story told and it would be more of a documentary film than action.

        Overindulge in white wine I can understand, but not calamari. Tasted it once, found out what it was and never ate it again. I think squid is adorable and cute. I don’t eat adorable and cute. I take photos of it. :D


        • I walk more in Spain. Gib is full of people in a hurry. Plus there are hills and steps. Ok going up, going down skews my balance.

          HalPads are like that. I live with them. Thanks for the offer though :) Mostly, he’s stolen by A to watch boring old films ;)

          I think I had calamari quite a bit in Greece. But that was a lot of years ago. I still drink white wine though. Actually one of the things that really saddens me is seeing dead fish waiting to be sold. But anyways, off topic.

          Tim took some lovely photos and I think he captured the essence of the walk. I saw something elsewhere and there were loads of people on the same track. Not. For. Me. I want peace and quiet.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yeah, know what you mean. :D No hills and steps for me thank you very much.

            Old films are the best. Can watch those for hours! :D

            White wine is okay, but I only drink it when I want heartburn. LOL! That would sadden me as well. Not so bad when you see them frozen with batter. :P

            He sure did and no people for me either. When I take photos I don’t want to see lots of people or tourists in it. Boring. ♥


          • I do try an evening walk up a few local steps. Hoping to build up the leg muscles. Although not theones where I helped the woman home. Not done that for a while.

            Silly A was watching Dusk till Dawn yesterday. I enjoyed that atthe time but didn’t want to invade his space to watch it too.

            White wine suits, no heartburn :) My luck is still in there.

            I know the theory is for people shots, but they aren’t my thing. Neither the people nor the shots. A decent view or animals etc anytime.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Steps are good for the leg muscles. I must find some. :lol:

            Oh yes, don’t try those steps when there are women around. LOL!

            Love Dusk till Dawn. Sure he wouldn’t mind if you invade his space. :D

            Yes, keep that luck there. Heartburn sucks.

            I do like the personal shots, not the people I don’t know shots. Decent view and animals are definitely preferable. :D ♥

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Sounds like a promising read. Duly placed on the list :) I always meant to do some if not all of it but, as you observe, the years are ticking. Well past the 60 stage myself, but we have walking friends of a similar age who did it in May/June this year. I’ll be interested to know how they got on.


    • I always planned on backpacking the Pennine Way. Some things don’t happen. And you walk much more than I do these days. I don’t know whether I would find it too long. If time and money weren’t a problem, maybe not. But it’s the equivalent innmiles of doing the Pennine way there and back ! In Spain. Where it’s hot! Or wet in the north. I think I’d be taking a pair of shorts, T-shirt, Goretex (maybe), and a spare outfit. The worst thing is carrying too much. And a pair of flip-flops/Tevas for evening. Long distance walking is interesting though. You get into a rhythm, even with blisters! :D


      • I hate carrying stuff, even on our usual 12/20km walks. I suspect our friends have one of those deals where your luggage is transported for you but I may be doing them a disservice. I’ve never attempted long distance. Just a wimp :) :)

        Liked by 1 person

        • :D We’ve met the transporting types, they usually stayed in guest houses too. Meanwhile we had the odd 30kgs of clart.
          I’m not so much a wimp as grossly out of practice, much older, and struggle to walk round the block!

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Dogs are a great reason for going on short walks, and a great excuse for not going on long treks. I can’t imagine myself as a backpacker. I would need someone to trundle along behind with my cartload of hard cases. :) Sounds like a very interesting armchair read though.


  11. For a few moments I was excited — lots of positive talk about walking.
    Then I saw that last “…and struggle to walk round the block….” And I am sad on your behalf.
    I have never been a long-distance walker, although in my teens we had “Miles for Millions” fundraisers — and I think we walked 25 miles in a day around the city to raise funds for the poor in other nations. Those were fun. Haven’t done anything like that for decades now, though. Although I did do a 6-day backpacking trip in my 30’s, and the organizers forgot to tell me (or maybe I just didn’t listen) that we were hiking OVER the mountains. I thought it was THROUGH the mountains…..


    • Twenty-five is pretty good. I think on one of ours we did about 18, but we were carrying weight. I was determined to find the ‘right’ camping spot. And I did :)
      I loved it.
      I think six days backpacking OVER the mountains qualifies :)


  12. It’s interesting to me how often the Camino has popped up in my circle in the last while. I had coffee and a chat with someone who returned from the Camino, not even a month ago. She’s just turned 60. A school chum also did a part of it late last year. A number of other people in my circle are interested in doing it.

    I shall keep an eye out for this book and am going to share your review on the social media platforms (personal and not-so-much), as I think a few in my network would be interested in Tim’s journey(s).


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