Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
I'm Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago Paperback – June 16, 2009
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
From Publishers Weekly
The 500-mile route along the Camino Frances, from the base of the Pyrenees to the shrine of St. James at Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, has afforded a sacred pilgrimage to Christians for centuries, and German comedian Kerkeling, somewhat whimsically, resolved to hike it. At 36, a self-described pudgy couch potato who suffered some health problems, Kerkeling, wanting to know who God is, set out along the route in the summer of 2001 with an overheavy knapsack only to nearly give up at the first pass. There are nearly 40 stops along the way (helpfully laid out on a map insert), and chapter by chapter, Kerkeling chronicles nearly every one. Pilgrims must get their credencial del peregrino (passport) stamped at official hostels, usually dreary bunk-packed dorms, as they go, but Kerkeling, a fastidious German craving privacy and hot baths, mostly chooses to stay in hotels. As well, he jumped into cars and trains whenever his feet were smarting. Encounters with other pilgrims enliven this travel account, especially the two English-speaking ladies who accompanied him toward the end; as they approached Santiago, they all felt emotionally uplifted. While the author is better known in Germany and his antics somewhat lost in translation, his emotionally probing narrative develops depth and a touching sincerity. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Hape Kerkeling is a comedian and writer living in Berlin. This is his first book.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
There were moments when the pace of the book slowed, but that represents the reality of the pilgrimage for many people. Kerkeling didn’t have any life-changing spiritual epiphanies, and I dare say, many (perhaps most?) pilgrims today do not. He did have time to think deeply about some timeless topics (the meaning of Life and his own life, is there an afterlife, how he viewed God, etc.) and to journal about his experiences and thoughts. Again, typical of Camino pilgrims. He writes well, although I suspect some of his wit and charm were obscured in translation. I appreciated that Kerkeling came across as more than a celebrity. He opened up and expressed his shortcomings (examples: nonathletic couch potato, impatient with loud, opinionated people).
The biggest caveat I would give a reader considering the Camino is that it has been thirteen years since Kerkeling made his pilgrimage. While much is unchanged, the number of pilgrims has more or less doubled. There are many more albergues and other accommodations and places to eat and buy food. A common remark I heard from repeat pilgrims was that even a few years ago, it was rare to find wi-fi on the Camino. Not anymore.
If you’re considering the Camino, I highly recommend reading “I’m Off Then” before you take off.
I don’t know, I may be being unfair, but it seems a cosy sort of suffering is the real goal of this pilgrimage — enough to conspicuously signal sincerity of purpose to oneself and others, enough to build a sense of belonging to the team, enough to be able to point to as grounds for the feel good insights that end each chapter.
The first book I read on the topic was Shirley MacLaine's account. I love Shirley, but her recounting of her experience---hallucination?---was way too weird for my taste.
Unlike some reviewers, I didn't find this book to be exceptionally humorous or a 'page-turner.' It is, however, a good account of one man's decision-making process about making the trek, coupled with his thoughts/experiences along the way. His style of building toward self-disclosure (and how this came about) was also nice.
Like a lot of travel books, the author had a tendency to go into detail about mundane aspects of the trip. Still, I stayed with the book til the end. Similar to what others have portrayed, his experience of the Spanish locals wasn't always positive, which is sad.
Because I read the book on Kindle, the picture quality was poor. I assume it's better in the print version. This was unfortunate, as it looked as though he included some nice shots in the book.
Surprisingly, the book came to a sudden end. That is, he was (spoiler alert) at the end of the trek; he got his stamp; and then he was off to catch a flight. At least from the reader's perspective, it all happened too quickly, with little of the detail that was included in earlier parts of the book. I would have liked to read more retrospective analysis on his part, but perhaps that will be volume two.
Tip: Have a map of Spain with you as you read the book. Many of the towns and villages aren't on most maps, but it still helps you to appreciate what an endeavor those who do The Camino embark upon.
Read the book.