A Pilgrim’s Journey; 3000 Kilometers from Rome to Santiago by Trip Kennedy. Victoria, BC. 2018.
In the Introduction to the book, Trip Kennedy states that “Each of the more than 100 days of my walk, I maintained a journal of my experiences, observations and thoughts. What follows consolidates those journal entries.” So this is not a guide book as much as it is journal entries with observations about pilgrimage, the land, the architecture, fellow pilgrims and himself.
Trip begins in Rome and works backwards on the Via Francigena, which even going towards Rome is fraught with misleading directions etc., so it is with this in mind that he has a GPS, two guidebooks and maps…….and still manages to get lost. Road works, daydreaming, etc. all contribute to these days where more kilometres than necessary are walked. However, as a result of misdirections, Trip meets interesting people and appreciates the kindness of strangers, which many would say what makes life worth living. Certainly the camino is one place where it is the kindness of strangers that gets you from one day to the next.
Because these are journal entries (edited and amalgamated) each day seems to be how far, how fast, how many people he passed, which I find contrary to the idea of just walking for the sake of walking and stopping when the mood or the fatigue hits you. There were a number of missed opportunities, festivals, exhibits, etc., because of Trip’s schedule, but then again, he had a day off scheduled each week as well and seemed to take full advantage of the culture he was experiencing. He asks at one pint “Do I care if I finish well? Who would I be disappointing besides myself?” Even though he is on a schedule and does a fair amount of self talk about the next day, the next 3 days, he always comes back to the present to ask himself “Why not pay attention to what’s happening now?” This is something we can all heed in this busy world whether on pilgrimage or not.
It’s not until he walks into Siena and there are May Day celebrations that I have any inkling of what time of year he is walking. Indeed, in Appendix 1, there are itineraries with dates, towns and accommodations; however, this reader did not read the appendix first. I also did not realize until he walks into France that he is doing this 3,000 not only in three sections, but in three consecutive years. And the years are not mentioned either, but I’m guessing that because the floods in France were particularly terrible in 2014, then Trip must have left Rome in the spring of 2013 and arrived in Santiago in 2015. But I’m guessing.
It is interesting to note that in the Italian part of the walk, Trip was plagued with blisters and by the time he returned to walk the French section, he had listened to the advice of another pilgrim and reduced his pack from 20kg to 12kg. and presto…no blisters.
The food in Italy gets a gold star but in Spain, not so much and I’m wondering if the difference is in the total price tag as some of the prices he quotes for overnight and meals in Italy and France were much higher than the Spanish piece.
There are also no maps and certainly for people who are familiar with the Camino Francés, Trip’s route through Italy and France would have been most interesting. Again, one can sit down with maps and plot out the route, but it would have been terrific if that had been included in the book.
For anyone contemplating walking the route in Italy or France, this book would certainly help with the planning.
Review by: Mary Virtue, Victoria Chapter Coordinator, Canadian Company of Pilgrims
To order the book directly from the author, contac him at:
James S (Trip) Kennedy
1610 Pinewood Avenue
Victoria, British Columbia
Canada V8S 1K7