“Not yet straight on to the end point…” – Martine van Vliet


Walk of Wisdom 6 to 12 September 2021

There I went…..61 years old, my first pilgrimage, a 7-day hike, all alone. Would I like to feel comfortable on holiday with myself? Living alone is different from traveling alone. Would my body still be able to keep it up? What will my path look like?

Well, that’s what my path looked like sometimes.

bridge Bergharen by Martine van Vliet

My inner path was as diverse as what my eyes saw.

After the first steps, the nervousness subsided: I was on my way! Yes! The wobbly pedestrian bridge to the Waal beaches must have known how I felt those first few meters and adapted. Then a brisk gait despite loose sand. Pride, joy….. I’m off, look at me walking. Every step a little closer to myself. All senses open when taking my steps.

But then, in the course of that day, fatigue sets in, it’s hot, the backpack pinches and is heavy, I feel wrecked, I’m dead tired, I walked too far and too fast, too little rest. Feeling nauseous from fatigue, I force myself to eat something and realize that I won’t be able to get out of bed tomorrow. I feel sad, this is not going to be anything this week, disappointment. So many feelings and thoughts.


Of course I was able to get out of bed, I put on my backpack that I hated yesterday and I continued on my path. This day together with a fellow pilgrim.

Quitting not an option? Did I have to prove anything? For whom? Let go and walk.

Walking together shifted the attention, we walked quietly, with regular breaks and singing a song and painting a stone. The beginning always takes some getting used to…… Just quietly put one leg in front of the other and ignore the backpack or “embrace” it.

My steps become calmer and calmer as my journey progresses those days. I myself am also becoming calmer and calmer during this trip. I look around me and enjoy what I see, hear and smell in nature. The encounters with fellow pilgrims, host families, people I meet contribute to calming down: so many sweet, nice people and my self-confidence is slowly returning. I’m starting to enjoy it…..

Hatertste Vennen by Martine van Vliet

What a beautiful, special trip in every way. Peace, inner peace is what it brought me, what I voel….dat is quite new to me. Me, someone who is always on the move and so busy according to those around me. Now that repetitive movement brings Rest. I enjoy, enjoy everything and myself as a fellow traveler.

New insights and thoughts are noted and still trickle down.

Contentment, with my life, with myself is another feeling that is strongly present: to make me happy.

Two weeks later, I still miss the rhythm of walking every day, being on the road. I even miss the heavy backpack on my shoulders.

I have completed my first pilgrimage, so happy and grateful that my body could still do it and so nice that I now know how to find real peace when I may fall into old habits. I write “first”, because you can bet that I will make several hikes alone to experience that contentment and tranquility so that it becomes my own, and also to meet new people.

Not yet straight to the end point……….the end stretching.

Martine van Vliet,

De Rijp, 25 September 2021