We’re back home now and getting ready to start the post-walking stage of the Camino. Here is a look at some highlights of our trip, seen through one photo for each day of our journey on the Camino del Norte.
April 14: Coastal views, rain, fog, wind and lots of ups and downs
April 15: An unplanned rest day in beautiful San Sebastian, forced by an old knee injury. Barry brought a knee brace along and wore it the rest of our journey.
April 16: A wayward calf and a sign telling us we had only 787 kilometers to go.
April 17: A group expedition to gain entry to the albergue in Deva, located in an active rail station.
April 18: Camino kindness – This pair walked a long way to help us find the albergue in Markina.
April 19: Communal meals at albergues were a great way to meet fellow peregrinos from all over the world. Countries represented at this table in Olabe included Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States — and prehaps others I’ve forgotten.
April 20: We visited the solemn Gernika Peace Museum and learned that this church next door was one of the few structures that survived the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, the world’s first aerial bombardment of a civilian population.
April 21: Sharon made a friend on the road to Bilbao in Basque Country.
April 22: Inside the fabulous Guggenheim Museum Bilbao designed by Frank Gehry.
April 23: Shells embedded in rock on the beach in La Arena.
April 24: The day started with a staircase.
April 25: Pilgrims walk near the coast west of Castro Urdiales.
April 26: A ferry took us from the beach of Laredo to the fishing village of Santoña.
April 27: A pleasant walk on the beach was followed by a nerve-wracking ascent.
April 28: A group of Scandinavian tourists walk along the cliffs overlooking the coast east of Santander.
April 29: Santander Cathedral
April 30: A soulful eye along the road to Comillas.
May 1: Sr. Arcitio greeted us outside his home, started talking gardening with Sharon and invited us to view his many trees and his jai alai trophies from the 1980s. He is from the Basque Country, where we started our journey and where jai alai originated.
May 2: A benefit of walking during springtime – abundant wildflowers.
May 3: Another beautiful coastal walk.
May 4: Most dogs were scared of our hiking poles. This pair followed us until we got to the next town.
May 5: Jose, co-owner of the modern, donation-based Duesos albergue, gave Sharon a tour of his organic garden.
May 6: The tail end (no pun intended) of a sheep parade near the beach in La Isla.
May 7: A small house and large ruins in a forested area west of Villaviciosa.
May 8: Rocky road – not the good kind.
May 9: Which is better – rocky road or muddy road?
May 10: Or a long dark tunnel?
May 11: Or a rocky, windy beach with crashing waves?
May 12: The ruins of an ancient church near Luarca felt like a sacred space.
May 13: Mis-remembered directions lengthened our walk but brought us to this gorgeous beach not long after sunrise.
May 14: A diversion from the main Camino brought us to the remnants of a castro – a pre-Roman village on a raised outcropping on the sea protected by several fortifications and a moat.
May 15: Another seaside walk took us through tall grasses and wildflowers.
May 16: The manager of an albergue in Vilalba serenaded his guests with popular and traditional songs in many languages.
May 17: One of the pieces of art in an unexpected rest station.
May 18: The well-preserved Chapel of St. Albert sits beside a stream in a nature reserve.
May 19: We were walking with pilgrims from British Columbia and Sri Lanka when we reached the highest point on the Camino del Norte on the road to the monastery in Sobrado.
May 20: The “new route” near the end of Camino del Norte follows an older route, but it’s a lonely road.
May 21: The day before we entered Santiago de Compostela, we joined the French Way – the most popular route – and stayed in Lavacolla, a village near the Santiago airport.
May 22: We left Lavacolla before dawn and arrived at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela a little after 9 a.m. We made it!