In March/April 2018, I did my first bike tour on the Via de la Plata, taking me from Seville to Santiago, with pain and beauty on the way
I’ve been meaning to write about my experience cycling the Via de la Plata ever since I came back in April 2018, but in the weeks following it – that is to say, a very short while ago, I was too raw from the whole experience to be able to sit down and articulate my thoughts and feelings on the whole trip. Now that it’s
July January, however, the details of the trip are already starting to elude me – dates, places, faces are no longer at the top of my head, and if this goes on much longer I won’t be able to write anything of substance about it.
With my weary cycle into Santiago being
two and a half months close to a year away already and my bright-eyed departure from Seville being further away still, I am also in the right place to be able to write about this from a safe distance, hopefully while still being able to dish up some realness. I hope that this series of posts will help people who are planning their own trip on this beautiful route, and inspire those who are on the lookout for a long trip of the sort.
The Via de la Plata is a millenia-old route crossing the west of Spain lengthways, and which in the past few decades has been revived and re-popularised as one of the ways to get to Santiago de Compostela. At over 1,000km long, it is also the longest camino, and since it is the only Spanish camino to go from south to north, it’s also very varied in terms of climate, landscape, and culture.
Over the past year or so, I had been planning to get into cycle touring, and I spent the best part of six months planning and building a beautiful steel touring bike which, in thrall to the zeal of the amateur bicycle builder who spends hours ogling vintage steel frames online, I called Esmeralda. That, for the most part, is a story of its own, and an ongoing one at that. I had originally envisaged bicycle touring as a way of exploring Luxembourg’s neighbouring countries, but by January of one of the darkest winters on record, the skies over the country had started taking their toll on me, so I started looking south. In the end, I went for the Via de la Plata because:
- It’s in Spain, and I love Spain. The Via de la Plata goes through many places many tourists never get to visit;
- Spain is warmer and brighter than Luxembourg;
- I wouldn’t need to camp, since I could sleep at the pilgrim albergues along the way;
- At 1,000km long, I figured it would be a nice meaty tour to start my cycle-touring adventures;
- I had no idea what I was in for.