Hausgemacht und handgefertigt






Bennett  Voyles

1,500 kilometers.
500,000 years of history.
1 crazy family.

Three hundred thousand people complete the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage every year, but not many of them attempt both the French and Spanish legs in one summer, and virtually no one would even think of doing that with three kids in tow. But long on confidence and short on common sense, two American expats decided to try. Inexperienced, underprepared, and with only the vaguest notion of the pilgrimage, the family set off from Le Puy-en-Velay, France, in July 2012, bound for Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 1,500 km away.

Part family memoir, part history, Onward, Backward! recounts their personal adventure as well as the outrageous, often funny, and sometimes shocking stories of the people who have lived near that old road for the last half-million years.

Onward, Backward! Cover Image


"If you've got to take your wife and three daughters on a 1,000-mile, seven-week death march--sorry, "family adventure"--across Europe, it helps if you're Ben Voyles: steeped in European history, transparent about the complexities of family dynamics, and burst-out-loud funny as a writer. I'm still not sure I would have traded places with him that summer--my feet ached just reading about the journey--but I'm so grateful that he wrote about the trip. I'll remember it as long as he does."

David Pogue
New York Times columnist
Emmy award-winning CBS News Sunday Morning correspondent
Frequent NOVA host

"I read Onward Backward! with much joy and laughter. 
Bennett Voyles' travel memoir Onward, Backward! joins the other great memoirs of the Camino de Santiago oeuvre, but from an entirely different point of view: with his wife and his three daughters in tow. They travel by both foot and by bike all the way from Le Puy en Velay in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Like all good Camino journeys, Voyles starts his with the crazy idea that he and his wife Cybèle had to take their girls on this epic journey. The only thing is that this "epic journey" happens to coincide when they are all teenagers -- and Parisian teenagers at that!
I also loved all his descriptions of the history along the route. For me as a professional guide, his book will be invaluable, and for any person considering walking or biking the Camino it is a must- read, a great introduction to the reality of the Chemin/Camino/path - which is always equal parts joy, hurt feet, smelly pilgrims, great encounters with locals and good and bad food - and an arrival in Santiago with a happy heart. 
A highly recommended read for anyone considering the Camino -- or any other grand adventure -- with their kids."

Sally Bentley
Producer, "Walking the Camino; Six Ways to Santiago,"
Winner of five film festival awards for Best Documentary
Camino Guide with Spanish Steps Tours of Asturias, Spain

"This is an engaging, entertaining, and historically well-informed account of one international family's adventures along the Camino de Santiago, the famous pilgrim's trail that leads from central France to Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain.  Blisters, bicycles, and breakdowns, both mechanical and personal; graceful prose, good humor and a gentle appreciation for the foibles, irritations, and joys of family life on the road:  they are all here.  It is the story of a journey, told with sympathy and understanding, but with a clear-eyed realism about the difficulties along the way.  I found it a highly rewarding reading experience."
Robert Stacey
Professor of Medieval History
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
University of Washington



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