Along the Templar Trail: Seven Million Steps for Peace is the fascinating journey of two men who set out to travel on foot the legendary road once used by the Knights Templar to reach Jerusalem — a staggering pilgrimage encompassing 2,620 miles. More than the mere adventure of two brave men, it is a grand and noble quest for peace, as well as a spiritual voyage that will leave readers emotionally and intellectually replenished.
The travelers are the author, American Brandon Wilson, and his 68-year-old French companion, Emile. The starting point: France. Destination: Jerusalem. In between these two points are Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria, and Jordan. Indeed, it is a daunting challenge, to say the least, and Wilson and Emile suffer all sorts of inconveniences along the way — insufferable heat, painful foot blisters, uncertainty as to where they will spend each night. Not to mention the possible dangers they might face, from thieves to anti-Americanism in the Muslim countries. Simple things like taking a shower, clean clothes, and comfortable sleep become a luxury.
Fortunately, they often encounter what the author refers to as ‘angels’, good souls beyond the boundaries of accepted conventions who are willing to offer the pilgrims food, drink, and a place to spend the night. Who would do that in America, where people are so conscious of danger at all times? But in the context of this journey for peace, it’s as if human beings are transformed and the best of their nature comes through. Also, for Wilson and Emile traveling together becomes difficult at times, as they differ in age and stamina. Will they finally reach their destination?
I immensely enjoyed reading this book. Besides being a skillful traveler, the author is also a skillful writer and this shows in his beautiful flowing prose, keen observations and wit. His writing combines a marvelous sense of Zen with good humor, and his personal style makes you feel as if you were there taking part in it all. This book is about a journey both physical and spiritual in nature, and its essential message is one all peoples of the world should be aware of. Though I had the pleasure of reviewing Wilson’s two previous travel books, both fascinating, engrossing reads, I have to confess Along the Templar Trail is my favorite.