Let's Take A Walk Through Spain

Last month I announced a much-needed break to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago, having little or no preparation and or expectations (which in hindsight, I think that was the best way to tackle such a feat.) I borrowed walking sticks, sleeping bag, and packed all the gear an NW gal has and set off.

First stop Bordeaux, to see old friends, and have a buffer of sorts. Landing in the midst of an intense heatwave 42 Celsius, does not set the precedence for a full-bodied red BDX. Yet, suffer through I did. BDX if you have not been, is a grand city, full of ornate buildings, cannelle, and a massive amounts of stone and concrete. Nary a tree was found. My friend told me that the city planners, trying to avoid loitering, recently dug up the last trees. The French protested, as they do, chained themselves to the trees, and the wise planners waited until said protestors went home to sleep and eat, to cut them down. Protest over! I'd like to say I toured many a chateau, but in reality, I was in no headspace to do so, and instead, opted for a trip to St-Emilion where we toured an underground church and I carved my name with permission, into the wall. The church allows pilgrims to carve their names in the limestone, however, the amount of pilgrims coming through St-Emilion has reduced to 30 per year. So, if you are near the exit, peering at the skeletal remains, turn around and look for JUL in the wall. My hand got tired..so I couldn't be bothered with the last two letters. 

Onto San Sebastian, with its lovely beach, alleys of Pinchos and Txakoli. I gained new enthusiasm for the wine, as I watched excited Japanese tourists scream with glee over the wine, as well as hiking through the vineyards. A refreshing way to cool off after 6 hours of walking. 

There are many hours to think whilst walking the Camino, one re-examines life, career choices and washes the heart clean. The beauty in people shines through the wonderful people you meet along the route. One day, while I was seemingly taking the short cut, which later turned out to be the long route-jokes on me. There was not a bar, store, or WC for 16 kilometers. A lovely village lady stood along the path welcoming visitors to come and sit for a while, offering wine, beer, water, and a freshly made tortilla. I took the water, and several snuggles from her dog, and later an encouraging one from her.
The regions of Basque, Asturias and Galicia are beyond words. It is a sight to turn a bend and come to a crest and look down upon Luarca, strip down to your skivvies and dive into the sea. Or walk with two Brits enjoying laughter and joy, and sit with them sipping coffee along the seashore. Or better yet, to meet familiar faces, who become family as you battle your tongue and brain with language. Each day, after a much-needed shower, beer first, then food. One such day, I begged the hostilario to please assist me to find "really good food". Now, I should state the prior to this walk, I had delusions of fasting meat and no alcohol, but by day two, along with my pack, that thought was ditched. I shipped that thing the rest of the trail. So this day, in Vilalba, I was guided to Meson do Campo. Walking in with cut-offs and a tank top into this Michelin starred restaurant, I was greeted like a queen. The owners, husband and wife team Elisabet (sommelier) and Manolo (maître d'hôtel) have built an exquisite alcove in this small town. Plates of pulpo and ‘Percebeiro’ clams, tasting of fresh seawater and sweet scallop placed before me, along with 3 glasses of wine. The next table, who by all means looked more wealthy than I, gave me side-eye, who is this girl? Julee Resendez my dear. Elisabet tempted me to stay longer in Vilalba and attend a sommelier dinner with overflowing wines, and while I was very very tempted, I kept going. I will be back, that is certain.

In Sobrado des Montxes, we slept in an old monastery. That housed a cathedral with lofty sconces. I walked inside, and sang my gratefulness, and listened to it reverberate back to me.

Finally, I arrived in Santiago. The cathedral is grandiose, and emotional, each of us walked for our different purposes, freed from sorrow, and releasing joy. As I bowed down at the back of St James, I thanked him, God and myself, for having the courage and space to meet along this route. 

Where and What to Eat, Stay and See

San Sebastian: There is a gorgeous wine shop GOÑI Ardoteka  also visit Wine Bar Arenales 

Day hike around the cliffs of Zumaia. Take the longer route, you look out over the crescendos, at the water's edge.

Gernika is a quaint town, more known for the bombing and Picasso's rendition. In the town square is a statue to him, and the painting itself sits in the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid.

Ribadeao, the town in lovely with lots of pulperias, my favorite was a wine heavy place called, Fumarel Vinoteca. I would have loved to sit and drink through their selections. Take a bus by the tourist center to Playa de Cathedral. This beach is only accessible in low tide.

Santander, I stayed along the boardwalk, and there was an abundance of restaurants. 

Luarca, walking down to this place is a dream. Open-air pulperias, spritzy cider, beaches, and even a legend of a king who in outrage and his daughters love choice, cut both their heads off. 

Albergue is As Paredes. I didn't actually stay here but had coffee here. The place is a warm and beautiful.

Vilalba Meson do Campo, drink whatever Elisabet puts in front of you. Her mother resides over the food, and husband Manolo manages the front of the house. 

Santiago de CompostelaMeson 42, the cockles, fried sardines, and mussels are succulent. 

Porto, Tapa Bento, flavourful, razor clams, cockles and seafood. Adega São Nicolau, lamb, croquettes and cod.