Riding the Milky Way Paperback – 10 Oct 2006
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On the warm spring day when Babette Gallard and Paul Chinn decided to ride 1600 kilometres along the St James Way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, he had never ridden before, she had only ever ridden under duress, their horses had yet to be found and the dog was a passing whim they were trying to forget. "Riding the Milky Way" tells the story of their journey. The humans were broke, burnt-out and vaguely hoping that early retirement would save their health and sanity. The horses were plucked off the equine scrap heap in France and still grappling with their new roles as something between mount and mountain goat. The dog was doing his best to understand why he was there. This inspiring, amusing and informative book sweeps the reader along with each member as he or she, horse or dog, progresses step by step towards a goal that has become more than just Santiago. The author not only explains how to avoid the pitfalls they encountered but also tells the reader what is expected of riders making this ancient pilgrimage. Packed with sketches and photographs, this book will inspire even the most timid traveller, while also giving practical guidance for someone wanting to do a similar journey. Finally, it is much more than just a good read. It is an excellent, if sometimes irreverent, guide to the legendary St James Way.
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Written with sincerity, humour & straight from the heart, the reader will be drawn into the journey, experiencing the same highs & lows as the travellers, feeling their pain & disappointments, their wonderment & their satisfaction.
This is a spiritually uplifting read, a book that once the reader starts, will find it impossible to put down & one that I cannot recommend highly enough.
Reviewer: a reader in France and the UK
I enjoyed this book from the first page. It's about real-life characters, with all their charm and frailty. I lived through their set-backs and successes, urging them on at every stage. I read it so quickly, wanting to know what happened next and who they would meet, that I am now starting the book again to concentrate more on the places they visited-it is a travel book after all. So, for me, double enjoyment.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This is very much a story of horses and riders, secondarily a story of a ride from Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela. Those who have walked from Le Puy will enjoy the encounter with familiar small town names - Montbonnet, Aumont-Aubrac, Estaing, Lectoure, Ostabat. The main characters are Babette, her husband, their three horses, and their dog. They face doubts, and overcome problems as does anyone making this trip, but they are not the problems of a walker. You as a reader cannot relax and know based on your own experiences that they are going to be ok.
You do know that you will be entertained. The book reflects the author's wry sense of humor. She might sometimes have a few unkind words about a dictatorial hospitalero, or some pilgrim littering the Spanish countryside, but puts her money where her mouth is by dedicating half the book profits to an anti litter poster campaign in coordination with the Spanish Tourist Board.
On a practical note, anyone thinking about taking a donkey or a dog on the Camino should read this book first and learn the realities. I'm assuming no one is thinking of taking a horse.
I recommend this as entertainment for anyone who has walked, or plans to walk the Camino. For those of you thinking about taking a four footed beast, read it seriously. If you are looking for a walker's view, of course we think our book Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago is a good choice.