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Sunrises to Santiago: Searching for Purpose on the Camino de Santiago

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After spending his 20s traveling the world and hopping from job to job, Gabriel Schirm was lost. At 32 years old, he desperately needed to find direction and meaningful purpose in his life. With no physical training, he decided his answers were waiting for him somewhere along the historic 490-mile pilgrimage route called the Camino de Santiago in Spain. From the physical high of crossing the Pyrenees Mountains to the mind numbing rhythm of walking through the endless wheat fields of the Meseta, the route was filled with many challenges. Accompanied by his “guru” wife Amy, Schirm faces setbacks like bed bugs and tendinitis, all in the pursuit of elusive answers. The lessons came from the serendipitous experiences and conversations with fellow pilgrims from all over the world. Sunrises to Santiago chronicles a wondrous journey of personal growth, physical pain, and outdoor adventure while teaching us all to enjoy life’s incredible journey.

190 pages, Paperback

First published June 5, 2015

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About the author

Gabriel Schirm

2 books10 followers
Gabriel Schirm is a world traveler and author based in Denver, Colorado. He writes about outdoor adventures, food, and journeys of self-discovery. He has been featured on the Travel Channel, Discovery Travel & Living, USA Today and as a contributor to TravelChannel.com.

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5 stars
45 (28%)
4 stars
67 (42%)
3 stars
40 (25%)
2 stars
4 (2%)
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1 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 22 of 22 reviews
Profile Image for Greg.
1,562 reviews78 followers
January 29, 2016
Interesting quick read. The author, Gabriel Schirm, and his wife decide to walk El Camino de Santiago, with a plan to go 490 miles in 30 days. Along the way they have ups and downs, the downs mostly associated with physical injuries, aches, and pains. At one point, Schirm is almost incapacitated due to knee problems and tendinitis in his ankle, so they take a bus and train to their stop two days hence so they can rest and recuperate a bit. Fortunately, he recovers enough to continue walking, and in the end, they arrive at Santiago de Compostela.

As they say on the Camino, everyone walks his or her own path...theirs just happened to include a section off their feet. I don't begrudge them that...what bothered me just a little was that nearly every page had him complaining and kvetching about the trip. I would like t have heard more about what he learned that could have prevented his problems (training ahead of the trip, maybe?), more than just platitudes about what he learned that was meaningful in his life, and more details about the Camino itself for those who are intending to walk it some day. Instead, over and over he moaned about not knowing his "purpose" in life, about not finding work that he was passionate about, and about what a mess he is/was because he couldn't figure these things out. By the end, I wanted to say "get a grip and just go to work!" Sigh.

All that aside, though, I did enjoy the book enough to recommend it to others. It's a quick read, and good enough to keep my mind off the treadmill.
Profile Image for Amber.
282 reviews1 follower
January 1, 2021
I really enjoyed this travelogue about the Camino de Santiago. The descriptions of the physical and mental challenges of walking the Camino, and the many peregrinos the author meets along the way, is really wonderful. The author is very honest about his personal insecurities and struggles related to finding answers to his questions about vocation and purpose, and I can appreciate that frankness. While I did find the author to be like a pendulum between good mood and bad mood, happy and sad, positive and negative, he reflects the realities of searching for answers and how life is a mixture during that search. The culmination of the journey is a bit fast, and only wished there had been a bit more description in Santiago.

I did love the various accounts of the albergues where Gabriel and Amy stayed, their shared experiences with others, and the sense of cameraderie with their hosts and other pilgrims. The journey sounds incredible, and the scenery and culture enticing. Definitely an enjoyable book and a reminder that it is the journey that is the goal, and recognizing the importance of finding the treasures and lessons along the way versus rushing towards the end prize.
785 reviews6 followers
September 25, 2020
I read every book I get my hands on about the camino. This one was excellent. The author and his wife walked the St James route from st James pied de port to Santiago in june 2014. I walked the same route in September 2018. I loved revisiting all those towns and seeing them again through another’s eyes. I like to compare my journey with others. They had so many hardships. Swollen knee, tendinitis and a few blisters, even bedbugs. Makes me wonder about myself. I had one tiny blister that never popped. I did extensive training for two years prior to going though, while this guy did no training at all. I’m sure glad I put in the time beforehand. This guy met a lot more people than I did. I loved the second and third meetings with folks along the route, just as he did. Great book.
39 reviews
June 20, 2020
Full disclosure: I am predisposed to enjoy Camino books. All of the others I’ve read were from a woman’s perspective, so I was excited to dig into this one from a man’s point of view. He was a new writer when this was published and I feel like it needed more polish (i.e. stronger editing) but it was ultimately enjoyable. As with any Camino story, the characters you meet along the Way are some of the most interesting parts. That and how the journey affects the pilgrim physically and psychologically. This book didn’t disappoint in those areas. I was glad to see how much credit he gave his wife. As a psychologist and yogi it’s no surprise she is a great source of wisdom and I wish them both many happy trips together.
Profile Image for Tanya.
48 reviews3 followers
June 11, 2018
Inspiring memoir of El Camino experience. Makes me want to add to my bucket list.
14 reviews
June 2, 2021
This was my choice for a book club read. I gained a new perspective on the Camino. I had always thought that this was something that I would want to do. Now I am not so sure.
Profile Image for Ian Jobe.
118 reviews1 follower
July 28, 2015
"It's about the way, not the destination." This was the theme of the book and one that the author does a great job of illustrating throughout. Sunrises to Santiago is a book for anyone who has ever wanted to travel in hopes of finding adventure while also finding his or herself. You are taken on a journey as the author and his wife go on a 30 day trip across Spain and part of France for the Camino de Santiago.

As I read this book, I found my own desire to do the Camino de Santiago increase tenfold due to the great descriptions. A lot of care is given to ensure that you feel as if you are in this 30 day journey. Little effort is needed to imagine the hotels, meals and companions that become part of this book. You feel thr excitement, sorrow, anxiety, and more that Gabriel shares with his fellow travelers ans his wife along the way. The author also provides good quotes throughout which also illustrate his growth during the journey. One of my favorites is one which the author comes across near the end of his journey that he uses as motivation to live in the now and enjoy each moment. "The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance;the wise man grows it under his feet."

I look forward to seeing what else Gabriel Schirm writes as he has a talent that could continue to grow in future works.
Profile Image for Hope.
54 reviews22 followers
December 21, 2015
I won this book through goodreads first reads.
I think that's how that goes.

Anyway, I am fairly hesitant when it comes to non-fiction books. Not in the sense that I don't enjoy them but it's the real life factor. It takes something special to write non-fiction and make it interesting.

This is book isn't so much interesting as it is inspirational, I read this during school and just the amount of inspiration that was thrown at me while reading it really made me tear up. Crying in college is embarrassing. Crying because of a book in college is beyond embarrassing.

The book makes me want to try the Camino de Santiago someday when I'm more in shape. And I'm really glad to have received this book and had taken the time to read it. It really opened my mind to something that I didn't even know existed and I feel as if the book is very much worthy of a four star rating.
Profile Image for Alison.
2,376 reviews36 followers
February 25, 2016
On this walk Gabriel and his wife Amy Set out on the Camino de Santiago together after having taken a 30 day leave from work. Gabriel who has had many jobs in interesting fields and traveled extensively for one of them is now at a loss and needs to find a new direction and purpose to his life.
As in all of the stories I have read of people's pilgrimages, on the Camino De Santiago, I come away with good messages and ideas for myself and I think that is why I like reading them so much. Each journey is very individual, and it was very interesting to see how Gabriel and his wife approached their needs and wants, and to see what the end results have been for them and some of the other people they meet along the way.
I will never tire of people's journeys as they search for meaning. I guess I just like to look into their minds and their thought processes.
Profile Image for Cathy.
394 reviews6 followers
December 16, 2018
This is the second book I've read about a couple doing the Camino, and I really enjoyed it because each person has his/her own Camino and each walk is different. People bring their own personalities along on this pilgrimage, along with their own problems or challenges. In this case, Gabriel is searching for some purpose for his life after a number of unsatisfying and stressful jobs. His wife, Amy, is a school counselor and a yoga practitioner, and she is very laid back. Gabriel has high expectations of himself, and finds the physical challenges grueling, and his own setbacks disappointing. But he always tries to learn and find meaning along The Way. I loved reading this account in preparation for doing my own Camino in September, and I found a lot of nuggets of wisdom, as well as what I can expect to encounter myself. I'm so glad Gabriel wrote this book. I really enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Kathy.
2 reviews1 follower
April 4, 2016
I really enjoyed this book. I found his search for the purpose in his life, honest and relatable. I liked the fellow pilgrims he encountered along the way and was touched by the respect and compassion he had for the people who had emotional struggles that they were experiencing. It seems like their stories had a profound impact on his struggles as well.

I just found his writing style and observations (espeically with the people he met along the way) so fascinating and interesting. He brought me into their world and had me see life through their eyes and that is a special gift to have. Great book and one which I would highly recommend to anyone.
Profile Image for David.
53 reviews2 followers
February 7, 2016
As a travel book goes this is one of the better ones I have read. The journey on the Camino De Santiago is one I hope to complete as part of my own journey that I embark on this week where my wife and I hope to circumnavigate the world without flying over a five year period. This book reflected what I had researched about the Camino and I found it built on what I already knew. Overall an enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Pj Gaumond.
187 reviews2 followers
January 23, 2016
I really enjoyed the trek of the pilgrimage of Gabriel in this book. It was very thought provoking from the author's angle and also the friends he met along the way. This book made me feel I was there and making the journey with Gabe and Amy. I was very sorry to see the book end. I will be thinking of the lessons in this book for a long time.
As required, I did win this book from Goodreads.
Profile Image for Patrick.
131 reviews
May 17, 2016
I've read a number of Camino books and I thought this was one of the better ones. The author's style of writing and the subject matter he chose to share was interesting. His particular journey was filled with a lot of physical aches and pain but it did not distract me from enjoying his journey. Reading the book was free in the Kindle Lending Library.
December 30, 2022
I read this while preparing for the Camino Frances, and the author’s brutal honesty about how hard the pilgrimage would be helped motivate me to train more and mentally ready myself. At times it felt a bit whiny, and perhaps even self-centered. If you want to learn about the pilgrimage this is a fine book to read; but it is just one person’s story.
3 reviews1 follower
October 15, 2016
The author and his wife, both from Denver, walked the Camino at the same time I did. I enjoyed the read and wonder if I ever saw them along the way. The journey on the Camino is truly life changing and this book reflects that.
3 reviews
December 6, 2016
One of my favorite personal accounts of the Camino. Allowed me to drift away to my own time on the Camino.
Displaying 1 - 22 of 22 reviews

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