Interested in a Trip to Spain the summer of 2017 with Los Peregringos?
Greetings Potential Pilgrims!
Planning is well underway for another trip to Spain in June and July of 2017 to walk a portion of the Camino de Santiago with Los Peregringos! David Herren, the trip coordinator and an educator for over 35 years, has walked all or part of the Camino Francés within Spain five times now, twice leading groups of students. Earlier trips with young people from Vermont (2012 & 2015) were a resounding success, said to be “transformational”.
This document will outline preliminary plans for the trip. It is relatively thorough, but questions may remain. Please don't hesitate to contact David Herren (firstname.lastname@example.org, or, email@example.com) with any unanswered questions.
The Camino de Santiago (The Road of Saint James)
The primary purpose of the trip is to expose young people to daily life in Spain. We intend to do this by hiking a portion of the Camino de Santiago. The Camino is a 1200+ year old Christian pilgrimage across the north of Spain to the tomb of St. James the Elder in the city of Santiago de Compostela. Tens of thousands of pilgrims make the trek every year, for both spiritual and cultural reasons. For 10 centuries an infrastructure has been in place to support these pilgrims mentally, physically, and spiritually as they walk across some of the most beautiful parts of the Iberian peninsula. Participants will have ample opportunities to experience many cultural aspects of both rural and urban Spain. Persons of faith will also have opportunities to attend services along the way, sharing the experience with faithful from all over Christendom. We will meet Spaniards and other internationals from all over the world. For those who would like more information about the origins of the Camino, there is a great deal of information about it online, and it was the subject of the recent film, The Way.
Where we'll go
We will spend 2 days in Madrid, one of the most beautiful European capitals. Arguably the finest museum in the world, the Prado, is walking distance from our hotel, as well as two additional world class museums, the Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza.
After two days in Madrid, we’ll travel to Pamplona and on to Roncesvalles in the Pyrenees. We will depart from Roncesvalles after spending the night in the monastery there.
Housing in Madrid: The Hostal Persal
A “pensión” (small hotel) with which we have had wonderful experiences on previous trips, the Persal (http://www.hostalpersal.com) is centrally located in Madrid, 15 minutes walking distance to several major museums, and Puerta del Sol, the center of the shopping and night life universe in Madrid, as well as the geographical center of Spain. All rooms in the Persal have clean, private, tiled, restrooms with bath and shower, air conditioning, television and telephone. There is 24 hour front desk support. The Persal provides breakfast in a very nice facility, and meeting rooms are available for groups staying in the hotel.
Housing and Dining along the Camino
For nearly 1200 years, an infrastructure has been developed to care for the needs of pilgrims along the Camino. Many of the hospitaleros, the people who run pilgrim hostels, are former pilgrims themselves and have dedicated their lives to serving pilgrims and the Camino. We will stay in official pilgrim hostels throughout our trip. The accommodations vary from quite luxurious, complete with swimming pools and white tablecloth restaurants, to thousand year old facilities in monasteries and former hospitals. One of the primary reasons this trip is so affordable is due to the fact that these hostels are very reasonably priced ranging from completely free to €10-12 (euros) for even the most opulent!
Some albergues, as the pilgrim hostels are called in Spain, provide meals. In other locations, the many restaurants nearby serve a specially priced “pilgrim menu.” And to keep our costs down, we occasionally use the kitchen facilities in the albergues to prepare our own meals. Food is plentiful and relatively inexpensive along the Camino, and since we’ll be burning enormous numbers of calories every day, we eat several times a day along the way! Ice cream is a regular feature on the hot days!
We will walk approximately 350 miles from Burgos to Santiago, where we will catch a bus back to Madrid for a final night before our return home.
Summer is the season of festivals in Spain, and it’s quite common to encounter any number of festivities along the way. Further, there are a number of artistic organizations who arrange regular concerts for pilgrims in towns along the way. This is to say nothing of the wealth of art to be found in the ancient churches and villages! We regularly take advantage of these opportunities, and will adjust our itinerary as needed to take maximum advantage of the offerings in 2017.
Requirements for participation
To be eligible for the trip to Spain, priority will be given to young people who have attained 17 years of age as of our departure in June of 2017, or who have completed their Junior year at an accredited high school. Final permission from the trip director, and compliance with all travel requirements as presented herein are also required. Persons who have not yet attained age 17 or completed their Junior year may be considered for the trip with preference if at least one parent accompanies said youth on the trip.
The per pilgrim cost of the 2 week trip for all in-country expenses will be $2400 plus airfare. Round trip airfare to Spain will be broken out as a separate budget item given the volatility of the market. The earlier we lock in our airfare, the lower the overall costs for the trip.
A non-refundable deposit equivalent to the cost of airfare will be required in early February to reserve a place on the trip. We plan to purchase tickets to lock in the rate at that time. The balance will be due just prior to departure.
See the attached budget summary showing sample airfares as of the indicated date.
Dates may vary depending upon availability of airfare and cultural events in Spain.
• At least one parent with a current passport of their own.
• Medication and medical information including insurance info for the pilgrim youth.
Parental Contact While in Spain
• travelers will be able to make regular, collect, phone calls home, and pre-paid cell phones are available for the equivalent of about $30 in Spain. There is no charge to receive a call on a Spanish cell phone, so we encourage all pilgrims to buy one. This makes it easy for parents to contact their child directly.
• The trip leaders will carry Spanish cell phones of their own and can be reached 24 hours/day.
We have never had any serious medical issues beyond some gastrointestinal problems, and of course blisters and foot issues. Spain’s medical facilities are excellent, and care is provided to anyone who enters. Most medical facilities will ask for medical insurance information, but bills are often not sent and services are frequently provided free to pilgrims.
It has been eye opening in past years to witness a public health care system like the Spanish one. In virtually every encounter, we have been seen by a physician faster even than when I make an appointment with own physician here in the United States. (I always chuckle when the personnel warn us that it will be “Oh, quite a while until you can see a doctor. It could be as long as 10 minutes.”)
What do previous Peregringos have to say?
“…I was able to take my Spanish outside of the classroom and put it to the test. While nerve-wracking, it gave me the opportunity to prove to myself what I was capable of. I had some doubts about whether I was good enough to continue with the language in college. After being able to successfully communicate in the capital of the Spanish-speaking world, it seemed like a silly worry. Next year, I will be graduating from my university with a minor in Spanish, which probably wouldn’t have been the case without this trip…”
—Catie Baumgartner ’12 (UMass ’16)
“The people I met, the lessons I learned, and everything that I experienced on the Camino is invaluable. It is hard to describe everything that I learned as the Camino has changed me so much. Having this experience before going to college is priceless.”
— Eva Orr, ’12 (Southern Vermont College ’16)
“We were warned beforehand that it would be the experience of a lifetime. We would see the world, its peoples, and ourselves in new ways. Our emotional, cultural, and intellectual horizons would expand to a new dimension, taking our learning experience further than any classroom could. We would meet people from across the globe, hear stories from all walks of life, experience slices of cultures and histories by those who lived them—all while traversing the awe-inspiring, exquisitely diverse, and spiritually invigorating Camino de Santiago.
We didn’t believe Mr. Herren one bit when he told us this, and our expectations weren’t met. Not even close.
We traversed snow-capped mountains, parched plains, towering Cathedrals, elaborate castles, sprawling cities, and villages that only existed to serve Pilgrims. Christian, Islamic, Gypsy, Celtic, and Roman influences. There was something for everyone in our group from historians to athletes, from artists to people of faith, from food-lovers to linguists, from mothers to their daughters.
No, our expectations were not met. They were obliterated, shattered, left in the dust, and exceeded in every way imaginable.
I think about my experience on the Camino almost daily. It changed us all—opened our eyes to the world and ourselves. I share the experience with those I walked with in 2012 and with people I’ve met at Middlebury College and beyond. I cannot put into words what it has meant to me on a personal level; to understand the impact of the Camino, one would have to walk it, himself.”
—Chelsea Montello, ’12 (Midd ’16)