Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela is the final destination of the legendary 500-mile medieval way of pilgrimship Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James), stretching across France and northern Spain, attracting pilgrims and casual visitors from all over the world. 

"Pilgrims to Santiago are not all Catholic and many are not even religious," notes Susan Griffith in Gap Years for Grown Ups, "as the experience is individual and meaningful for those of all faiths or none. About a third of pilgrims are Spanish and the rest are foreigners."

The most dedicated pilgrims travel the entire route on foot, which takes a minimum of three weeks and passes by some 1,800 historic and architectural significant buildings, both religious and secular. 

Interactive map of The Spanish Road to Santiago de Compostela

"Pilgrims can sleep out under the stars or stay in pilgrim hostels, many of which are in historic old buildings where cheap or even free simple accommodation is provided in dormitories," Griffith explains. "If you walk the route in autumn you may be able to sustain yourself in authentic pilgrim style on the bounty of nature garnered en route: walnuts, figs, chestnuts, apples and mushrooms are just part of the fare that can be picked wild."

Santiago, the capital of the Galicia region of Spain, is a lively university town, home to Universidade de Santiago de Compostela. The region's seafood cuisine is renowned.

The Saint Jacob's Shell, or scallop, is a symbol of Santiago, and Viera -- a mouth-watering dish of baked scallops served in their shells with a crust of onion, breadcrumbs and parsley -- is a local specialty. Also on the local menu: Pulpo á la Gallega (cuttlefish prepared with paprika), Empanada Gallega (a pie of fish, meat or vegetables), and Tarta Compostelana (a tart of almonds).

Web oficial de turismo de Santiago de Compostela

Gap Years for Grown Ups
by Susan Griffith
Vacation Work, 2004

"There is a growing trend among people of all types to take time out from their career to 'find themselves.' Some prefer to be guided in the ways of self improvement while other just seek the opportunity for the time and space to do their own thing," writes the author of inspiring guide to taking a career break.

A "gap year" traditionally refers to a year between high school graduation and enrolling in higher education, a transition period between childhood dependence and adult maturity. But now mature adults, many of them parents of recent graduates and  "empty-nesters," are discovering the value of taking a break and trying something new.

This guide, in its first edition, covers a wealth of opportunities open to adults contemplating a career break, from volunteering or working abroad to adventure travel and special interest holidays. It offers directories of adult education programs, sport and leadership courses, retreats and religious pilgrimages.

The reference is colored with first-hand accounts and advice from adults who have taken a gap year and advertisements for special programs.


Meditations on Travel
by Marjorie Agosin
University of Georgia Press, 2004

They were the songs of the people of Spain, in the fields, on the banks of hopeful streams, and in the blush of the poppies. I went there, too. I grew and became history among histories, made absolute and absolved amid the words of God.

be outgoing be outgoing

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