National Geographic Tour of a Lifetimeby Maria Elena Price - Thursday, October 7, 2010
ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours is very proud to announce that our bicycle tour: Cycling the Camino de Santiago: Roncesvalles to Santiago in Spain has been recognized as one of National Geographic Traveler’s, “Tours of a Lifetime”!
ExperiencePlus! has been offering this trip, a favorite of both customers and staff, for more than 12 years and is pleased to receive this national award—confirming the Camino de Santiago is something unique and special.
Just what makes this tour so special? The Camino de Santiago, also called the Way of St. James, was the first designated “cultural route” by the European Union in 1987 recognizing the importance of this route to Europe’s art, cultural and political history, and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Camino de Santiago, was established as a religious pilgrimage in the 12 – 18th centuries and today over 70% of “pilgrims”, Europeans and non-Europeans alike, travel it simply to learn about the history and traditions of Spain. ExperiencePlus!’s bicycle tour follows the original guide for the Camino that was written by a monk in the 12th century. Along the way we explore Gothic cathedrals, visit medieval monasteries, take a side trip to bicycle through one of Spain’s premier wine growing regions – the Rioja – and encounter adventurous travelers from around the world. ExperiencePlus! is the only bicycle tour company to offer a trip that includes the entire Spanish Camino (starting in Roncesvalles near the Spain / France border and ending in Santiago de Compostela). For those short on time there is also the option to join the trip in León, located in the northwest region of Spain for an 8 day bicycle tour.
Participating in pilgrimage traditions is an important part of traveling along the Camino. A customer favorite is filling a “passport” as one travels towards Santiago de Compostela. This document is stamped by local establishments such as restaurants, hotels, museums, and churches. In the end the passport is given to the official “pilgrim’s office” in Santiago and anyone who has shown to have traveled by bike, foot or on horseback at least 200 kms (100 kms if you are hiking) of the route receives a Compostelana, or certificate of accomplishment.
Joining the Camino is inspiring as one becomes a part of a moving community of people all traveling towards a common destination. ExperiencePlus! bicyclists follow our navigational chalk dust arrows and travel at their own pace, allowing them to stop and visit the sights and talk to locals and other “pilgrims” as they wish. Along the way, you’ll begin to understand the significance of Ursula Le Guin’s words when she wrote “…it is the journey that matters in the end”
2010 is a Camino Holy Year, when St. James day (July 25th) falls on a Sunday, which means those who complete the pilgrimage this year will be absolved of all future and past sins. Just one more reason why you should join ExperiencePlus! in 2010 for National Geographic Traveler’s, “Tour of a Lifetime” along the Camino de Santiago.