The other day, I met up with a friend in Toronto and we went for an 18 km walk through his part of town. This was the first of many such walks we will be taking in the next ten months, and they're leading up to a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Pascha in 2015.
I mentioned ten months, since our plan is to start walking to Jerusalem from England. We'll arrive in London shortly after the feast of the Cross in September and walk down to Canterbury, thereby retracing the late medieval pilgrimage made (in)famous by Chaucer.
From Canterbury we'll walk the Via Francigena to Rome, arriving sometime in mid-December. Although it would be nice to experience Christmas in the Eternal City, we'll still be less than half way to our goal. At this point, we'll have walked some 2000 km and will seek a pilgrim's Testimonium from the Vatican. We'll probably need to replace our shoes once we reach Rome, and there may even be a few sites worth visiting while we're here.
From Rome, our next destination will be Bari, where we'll pay our respects to St. Nicholas after about three weeks of walking.
From Bari, we'll hop a ferry to Durrës where we'll pick up the Via Egnatia through the Balkans to İstanbul. I spent ten days in this magnificent city in 2006, and I look forward to spending a few more!
When I first started playing with the idea of this great trek shortly after completing the Camino de Santiago, I'd hoped to walk through Turkey into Syria and then into Lebanon as far south as Beirut. From Beirut I'd have headed east again to Damascus and then through Jordan so that the last section of the journey would have been walking west to Jerusalem.
Clearly, this is no longer feasible. Instead, I'll retrace the route recorded by Brandon Wilson in Along the Templar Trail. This will bring us to the port city of Alanya, Turkey. From there, it's a ferry ride to Northern Cyprus and then a walk across the island to Limassol, Republic of Cyprus. From Limassol, we'll take our fourth and final ferry to Haifa, whence it is an eight day walk to Jerusalem. The Confraternity of Pilgrims to Jerusalem have great information covering this part of our journey.
In the next ten months, I need to get back in shape, learn Turkish, set up a new WordPress blog, and save some money. Yes, I'm excited!