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Half a million step Camino

This morning our Camino ended in Vega de Ribadesella a beautiful little nook tucked on the edge of the Bay of Biscay. We walked further than expected but our journeys end was “Tu Casa” a bohemian stone albergue nestled amongst the hedgerows. It was the right place to be…. a home filled with love & dream catchers. An owner, a seasoned pilgrim who’s journey had taken her to many continents, filling us with her wisdom & her food foraged from land around. Nasturtium salad, bamboo bake to mention but a few of her delights. In the softness of duvets we reflected on our Camino started 15days ago. Over half a million steps covered through Basque lands, Cantabria & ending in the Asturias. We walked in strong sun & soaking rain. We walked up sharp steep mountain sides & soft long sandy beaches. We met folks from five continents & many we slept with in shared dormitories. Though we did treat ourselves to pensions once or twice when the luxury of a hot bath was hard to resist. We ate many tortillas & probably far too many baguettes while a bar of chocolate was our forever companion ( well mine really lol)

But today we prepare to head to Santander in the morning

June 1st tonys mums 5th anniversary.

Tomorrow Tony will scatter a little part of her ashes amongst the rocks & sea that hold the memories of the little child who spent fourteen years of her childhood in this beautiful part of the world.

Steps upon Steps

It’s been seven days since these odd little size threes took their place between the big guns of serious walkers…but they haven’t let themselves down

Grand total “265473” steps have sofar been walked up hills cliffs & forests & down along beaches glens & road on the #caminodelnorte

Some proved extremely death defyingothers stunningly beautiful

While some were really just a means to an end…but nonetheless they have gotten us from Irun to Santillana where we are now ready to trek into our second week plotted & planned by Tony & a few yellow arrows till we run outta time & I run outta socks whichever comes first πŸ˜‰

Buen Camino xx

Memories & megalithic rocks!

If rocks could talk they would speak of a young tony swimming between these strange geographical boulders during childhood summers spent here with his parents.

If rocks could talk they’d speak of his mum & siblings playing amongst these same rocks a generation earlier.

This was our place to stop. Stop & remember. Remember his mums years in Spain. Remember his happy childhood. Remember the times spent here with his parents

Sometimes Caminos aren’t just about walking they’re about taking time to stand still & let your memory walk through the happiness of your past

So tonight we celebrate Noja for its past memories & for the present ones it has yet to create.

Mad as mountain goats!

Don’t be fooled when the book says coastal path! Yes it’s coastal, yes it’s stunning but the coast & the view are appreciated from a very high sheer climb…. even the goats thought we were mad! But that’s the Capricorn goat in me… if there’s a tough road to climb you can bet il be on it.

Fellow caminoites beware

The path is narrow & it’s a sheer rocky drop to the sea

Part of the climb was a clamber on all fours

& there was even a pass that requires the use of a rock rope! The drop is scary & not for the vertigo challenged. ( & me that could never climb on the rope frames in school without a friction hand burn & a sore butt from falling three feet to the ground πŸ˜‚)

As I clung to the rope rucksack swinging precariously over the edge I suddenly felt glad I’d told my daughter Aisling were my will was….

But panic over thankfully we lived to tell the tale & now we’re safely tucked up in the convent de Trinidad in Laredo

Gentle nuns in traditional habit making us very welcome & inviting us to a blessing of all pilgrims … after today we needed it as Tony & I are really counting our blessings. πŸ™β›°πŸ™ xx

Cantabria beckons

Leaving a sleepy Pobena at 6.30am we walked with the sun rising over the Bay of Biscay a habitat to 24 species of whale but the fishermen we passed were seeking a lighter catch as the hunting of whales stopped in the 17th 18th century for fear of their extinction.

It was a beautiful coastal path into Cantabria & the town of Castro Urdiales but our arrival at 10.30 left us keen to walk further as the day was too young to hang up our rucksacks

Camino book checked El Pontarron de Guriezo looked like the spot. 12km sunshine & Sunday made for a perfect combo. So stocked up with sugary drinks & water we slipped out in front of the bullring & followed the coast west.

But walkers be warned the last 4km is beside a busy main road with little allowance either side for foot passengers. Add in the many Spanish cyclists we needed to keep our wits about us.

Arrived thankfully in one piece (very glad I’d stopped to say a prayer at a beautiful rock grotto near Minono for a safe journey)

we are now sitting in shade fat puffy feet elevated contemplating tomorrow’s journey. Our aim is to hug the coast as much as we can as one it offers spectacular views & two the gentle breeze cools us from the heat of the sun which arrived this morning & will hopefully remain with us for a few days….. relegating our ponchos to the deep recesses of our rucksacks πŸŽ’πŸŒžπŸŽ’xx

Flatlines & lazy days!

Unanimous vote of two taken we decided courtesy of a pull muscle & a stubbed swollen toe a flat path was a must for today!

Now for the Camino purists out there look away…. we jumped three extremely hilly stages & set our butts on a train to Bilbao πŸšƒ

It’s amazing how quick three tough days of walking went by from the comfort of our carriage 😊

Sun shining a wonderful 20degrees in Bilbao we set our feet for a short trek to Portuglalete

But our karma was to come…. the albergue was Completo! So Pobena we were set!

Though I must say these portugalete folks could teach the San SebastiΓ‘n & Zarautz folks a thing or two about their hills!

A walkulator up hill πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

How Brillant!

Lol I know that counts as cheating but I just followed the Basque berried gent. Anyway I think a train counts as cheating more πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Now in Pobena & a gorgeous pilgrim meal downed il sleep tonight in my sleeping bag with a clear conscience. Trains & walkulator I have no doubt would have been used by pilgrims of olde if someone had just invented them?

But for the pure of Camino our walk will resume tomorrow in earnest with pulled muscle & stubbed toe all the better for their day of rest lol!

Though it’s amazing what you still see on a short trek from graffiti art bridge art to the Guggenheim art museum! The little flowers were just pretty on the side verge x

Climb every mountain β›° but without Julie Andrews!

There’s only one word to describe today’s walk “Tough”!

As you can see it was 20 miles of very very sharp highs sharp lows followed by more & more & yet more highs!

We reckon in the twenty miles we had one mile flat…. & even that was covered in unforgiving stones lol!

To cope with today’s terrain tony & I trod our way up in companionable silence plugged into our iPhone shuffles … his playing Muse & AC/DC & mine Bon Jovi & Andrea Bocelli … each to his own πŸ˜‚

🎼It’s my life 🎼 giving me the stamina I needed for the ascent while Andrea eased my sore legs gently down the sheer slopes & through the pretty vineyards that laced our entire journey.

Breaking up our trek pretty villages nestled in the Basque valleys…..Getaria Zumaia & Elorriaga. Hugging the waters edge they were a welcoming water & foot break for us weary travellers.

But all were to be left behind as we braved ourselves for another climb & another & another till we literally fell into Deba.

Settled into our train station albergue we changed & headed to the town square for much needed sustenance

7pm it was abuzz with young & old sitting around chatting laughing… not really doing anything but loving life!

Maybe that’s what makes Caminos worthwhile…. every ache & pain is forgotten as we soak up the wonderful atmosphere in a village that will never reach the pages of glossy tourist / travel magazines. No package tour will stop here…..

But that will be their loss! Xx πŸ€—πŸƒβ€β™€οΈπŸ€—

Kindness high in the hills!

Kindness can be found in the strangest of places. High in the hills above San SebastiΓ‘n some lovely person left seats for weary feet, water for dry mouths & a stamp for our pilgrims passport to say we’d been.

It was very welcome as the trek from the albergue to the end of San SebastiΓ‘n promenade was 5km before the days walk began in earnest. At its end we were met with a scary signpost “funicular “!!!

Yes we were to get to the top of a very sheer hill but without the aid of a cable car. I should have known as 5km ago we descended 150 steps to get to San SebastiΓ‘n beach front so now the ascent was in equal measure …. allbeit tougher πŸ˜‰

So a seat & sip of kind water at the top we were sorted for the tough trek to Zarautz a place of Tony’s childhood

I say tough as it was 18miles of many many sharp short hills not to mention a 1500m cobbled road dating back before the 10th century…. our feet were busted by its end so the bare footed pilgrims of old have my sympathy. (Advice avoid if you can… stay on the road ….we wish we had πŸ˜‚)

Elastoplast put to good use we reached Zarautz in time for Tony to relive his happy memories with a walk along the beach…… like we needed the exercise πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Tomorrow feet willing we head for Deba

See you there xx

Desayuno sorted!

Irun was a friendly place to start our Camino. 7.30 desayuno for a mere €3.50 set us up for the 24km to San SebastiΓ‘n…. though I had to resist filling my already full rucksack with the croissant delights.

Irun to San SebastiΓ‘n meanders gently through the Basque hill but nearly always with a view over the sea. Some hills weren’t for the faint hearted but it made our coffee in Pasajes San Juan all the more welcome! A pretty little harbour village which required a 1minute ferry to continue on our Way.

2pm sun coming out over San SebastiΓ‘n bay we settled into the Ulia albergue nestled in the hills above the bay

Cervasa ordered I’m quite chuffed to have made it this far on the back of a very challenging four week illness…. my money had been on Pasajes but it’s amazing how a rucksack can motivate you

Though smugness was soon wiped of my face πŸ˜‚ when we met a Dutch girl in the albergue who has just cycled 1800km & is still going πŸš΄β€β™‚οΈπŸš΄β€β™‚οΈπŸš΄β€β™‚οΈπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

So feet up weather checked we plot our course for Zarautz tomorrow …. see you there!

Buen Camino xx

Priorities?

Travel has become the nightmare of many. Security checks & plastic bags the bane of most peoples lives…..

But I in a masochistic way quite enjoy this part of the journey. The buzz of bus stations & airports. The excitement & anticipation of the weeks ahead.

Granted I’m not too fussed on the 4.40am alarm call but when u look out the bus window on a warm sunrise over Ireland I wonder why I don’t set my phone for that time everyday πŸ˜‚πŸŒžπŸ˜‚

boarding passes …….. now that’s the bit can challenge the healthiest of blood pressures πŸ˜‰…..

Priority boarding paid at time of booking to avoid rucksacks going into hold this should have been the easy bit but Tony was left bemused when I was seated in row 8 & him in row 32?

& him with empty seats either side of him?

Another €10 spent he now has the luxury of me chirping in his ear all the way to Biarritz … a move he may well come to regret lol!

Priority? I’m not so sure…… πŸ˜‰xx

ps flight delayed …bit more people watching πŸ€—βœˆοΈπŸ€—