Ginny Savage is looking forward to looking back.
She will join her Mary Baldwin College roommate of all four years on their first trip since they travelled all over Europe for four months in 1970.
The women will make some aspects easier, thanks to being “of a certain age,” she said: advance reservations for hotels and some homes (“2- and 3-star equivalent”). And luggage will be transferred for them each morning.
Accommodations for their 1970 adventure had meant “many a bathroom down the hall.”
So arrangements were more casual back then. Attire? Not so casual. Note the photo of Ginny [then Moomaw] and friend Martha Rasin scrambling over the Parthenon ruins in dressy clothes — including HEELS!
Comfy, serious shoes will be required indeed: The women will be “real pilgrims,” walking a good chunk of Northern Spain’s 800-kilometer (500-mile) Camino of Santiago de Compostela (aka “The Way of St. James”). “In order to be an ‘official’ pilgrim,” Ginny emailed, “one must walk at least 100 km (about 62 miles).”
The women expect to walk 6-10 miles daily through the mostly rural, agrarian region of Galicia. (“So I am looking forward to seeing many sheep and cattle!” she wrote.)
Ginny has been fascinated by the Camino “for years — ever since [late husband] Lon and I stayed at a tiny inn in a tiny village” in France’s Limoges region. The inn had a scallop shell on its sign: symbol of the Camino.
“Pilgrims came from and through France on the way to Santiago. Even as recently as this spring, I have seen the symbol in several places in Germany. People have been making this pilgrimage for more than 1000 years!”
So she is excited to become a part of that “extraordinary history of the Camino” and of being a pilgrim “(albeit, one with reservations and luggage transfers) and leaving the hustle-bustle of daily life for a more contemplative existence for 10 days….
“And even though I am a Protestant I am especially looking forward to the Mass at the Cathedral of Santiago… where pilgrims have gathered for centuries…. And we will be arriving there on All Saints’ Day: an added bonus.”
Afterward, they will travel by car to see more of Northern Spain. Along with stepping up her walking regimen around Salem and breaking in new hiking boots, she is “trying to get used to the fact of barest essentials: only one extra pair of shoes for three weeks is very difficult for me!” (Her bag that gets transferred is limited to 30 lbs.)
Plus, friend / “Spanish teacher extraordinaire” Sydney Nordt has helped “dust off [my]… tourist Spanish.”
President of Salem’s World Travel Service, Ginny has been in the travel industry her entire career (including arranging several Salem Museum trips), only taking four months off when son Ned was born. This seasoned traveller won’t be daunted by a stepped-up pace and shedding some luggage for her big pilgrimage.
P.S. Coincidentally St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Deacon Dr. David Dixon just gave a fine, moving sermon about his and wife Nancy’s recent trip to this and other shrines — including brief histories of these “thin places” between heaven and earth. To read the sermon, click here.