Whew! Dave and I have been home for almost two months and can finally say we have come to the end of “Three Caminos in One.” Dave created 32 videos and they are now embedded in most blog posts. Because I took fewer photos on my solo walk along the Camino Frances for 16 days, they are collapsed into just three shows that appear at the end of blog posts on Day 5, 8, and 16. There is a video embedded within all other posts.
A video of Dave’s two-day solo hike between Irun and San Sebastián is included in Day 1 of the Camino del Norte which we walked together. There are videos also of days we spent off the Camino: Guernika, Bilbao, and Oviedo as well as on the bus tour from Santiago along the Costa de Morte (Coast of Death) to Finisterre (the end of the Earth) and Muxia. In other words, there is a lot more to see than just the few photos originally included in the blog posts – the result of having two iPhones and one camera snapping pictures at every turn! The fact that the camera dates were a bit “off” were a big challenge for Dave in putting photos in proper order. But now it is done!
Dave and I agree that this “Three Caminos in One” was as exceptional as our first journey along the Camino Frances in 2015. We hope there is another Camino yet to come.
My 16-day solo journey along the Camino Frances from St-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Burgos from April 19 to May 4 covered a total of 283 km according to my “All Trails” app. I am happy to have repeated this section even though the route was almost identical to the one we walked in the autumn of 2015. It was entirely different in the spring. Droopy sunflowers and plowed fields in autumn were bright with new grain and yellow canola this time. Red poppies lined many paths.
I loved heading out every morning with my only responsibility being to follow the yellow arrows. I got lost only once when I went out in the evening to stroll the streets of Logrono looking for dinner. My concern about being locked out after the 10 PM curfew because I couldn’t find my way back to the albergue led to some worrisome moments described on Day 11. That was the same day I was invited to “act as a pilgrim” in a film. Not too far fetched! That’s the beauty of the Camino: You never know what adventures you might face in any 24-hour period!
I had physical ailments this time, unlike our 2015 journey when I came through it totally unscathed. It began with the first of six blisters on Day 6. Walking funny because of the blister on my left foot led to a stress fracture of the right foot (Bonnie’s diagnosis and I concur) on Day 8. In that day’s blog post I laughingly asked, “Can a person break a foot just from walking?” Yes, and I can still feel it. Eventually the limp led to sciatica weeks later. It became so painful, I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it to Santiago with only two days to go. Having my backpack couriered for one of those days was the best 3 euros ever spent! I try to be stoic and say the pain I suffered was all part and parcel of a mostly positive journey.
Having these physical ailments as I walked alone made it clear why the Camino is so special. Many times I needed something and other people I didn’t know were more than happy to provide it: a needle, thread, antiseptic, and instructions on how to drain blisters and apply Compeed. I was given a scallop shell to hang on my pack because I had lost one. Twice I was given bananas. We can take away so many positive aspects from life on the Camino and incorporate them into our every day lives to improve things, mainly the kindnesses and generosity of strangers.
The day after my arrival in Burgos on May 4th, I headed by bus to San Sebastián, one of the most beautiful beach cities in Europe where Dave and I planned to meet. He was on his own two-day scenic solo journey then, hiking about 26 km along the north coast from Irun to San Sebastián.
A happy reunion took place on May 6th and the next day we began a four-day journey walking together along the Camino del Norte from San Sebastián to Markina-Xemein, covering a distance of 80 km.
Most of the first three days along the Camino del Norte were “fantastico” but Day 4 between Ermita del Calvario and Markina became one of our most challenging days. We didn’t have a “Buen Camino!”
After Markina-Xemein we spent three days off the Camino, taking a bus and spending a day in Guernika, Bilbao, and finally in Oviedo, our starting point for walking the Camino Primitivo. Taking three days off of the Camino didn’t mean there was relief for tired feet. A lot of non-stop mileage was put on in those beautiful, interesting cities.
According to “All Trails” we walked 349 km along the Camino Primitivo from Oviedo to Santiago in 19 days. The first 16 days were beautiful and peaceful with mountains and farmland dotted with small villages and the historic city of Lugo with its Roman walls.
It was where the Camino Primitivo joined up with the Camino Frances in Melide that things took a downturn because of crowds of pilgrims and tourists. We suffered from culture shock during those final three days walking from Melide to Santiago along the Camino Frances after the peace and quiet we had been enjoying on the Primitivo. We doubt that we would want to walk any part of the final 100 km of the Camino Frances again.
The views along the way were worth every ounce of effort put into climbing all the hills. One exception to our enjoyment, however, was the stinky mud we tried to avoid plodding through on Day 5 but, once again, we try to be stoic and say that was just part of the journey. It was followed by the most stunning day of all on Day 6 so the negative and positive aspects balanced out. Even the fact that we lost all our clothes as described on Day 19 is funny now rather than upsetting. (No we never did get them back!)
We are relishing the luxuries of being home now with comfortable beds, all the time in the world to use the shower, and having more than two things to wear. Luxuries such as make-up and hair products will be appreciated much more from now on.
There will be another Camino in our future if all goes well: the Portuguese Coastal route or (quite likely) more of the Camino del Norte because of its high views above the ocean and quieter trails. It would also give us the opportunity to see Sobrado dos Monxes, the place we missed when we couldn’t find the two-day detour from Lugo (Primitivo) over to Sobrado (Camino del Norte). Taking that route would have meant joining up with the Camino Frances further along, in either Arzua or Lavacolla.
Thank you everyone for following us on this journey. It was wonderful having you there to tell our story to. We really appreciate your encouraging comments and know they inspired us to keep on going.
If you would like to watch the videos, click on the “Home” button at the top of this page below the banner photo. Then click on “Here is how our second journey transpired.” That will take you to the list of all posts. Click on any underlined link to a post and scroll to the bottom to find the video for that day.
2 thoughts on “Journey’s End”
Dear Judy and David,
What beautiful journeys and adventures you guys have had – just stunning. Thank you for taking the time to share them with others.
I found your website through a YouTube interview that you had done.
I am planning on doing one of the Camino’s next year with my two children – 10 & 12 between 3rd week of May and end of June. I had originally thought of the Frances route, but I am deeply concerned about the sheer volume of people that may be walking it next year. I don’t plan on rushing the kids to hit any specific milestones by a pre-determined timeline. I just want to make sure that we have good options for places to eat/sleep along the way (I am not too keen on dorm room type sleeping) and that the kids feel a sense of community along the way.
As I keep reading and watching videos I get a feeling that some of the Frances’ authenticity is getting compromised by its popularity. I don’t want to feel like we are getting herded along or need to rush in order to secure lodging. So instead I am thinking of the Primitivo or Le Puy. Any thoughts, recommendations or insights that you may have would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Sheila! What a wonderful experience it will be for you and your two children. The Camino Frances is definitely busier and becomes more commercialized during the last 100 km to Santiago. Next year will be busier than most years if COVID isn’t a problem and with it being Holy Year. Camino Primitivo is much less busy and most beautiful. Not planning on “rushing the kids to hit any specific milestone” is the best way to go. No spreadsheet! You might like to check the Gronze.com for accommodations on that route as some have been closed due to COVID. Cross-reference with Wise Pilgrim. You should book where you want to stay one or two days ahead when you want private accommodations. Make sure to take the “Camino Verde” from Lugo which takes you over to the Camino del Norte route. From there you can take another less travelled route so that you join up with the Camino Frances in Lavacolla – one day from Santiago. The Hospitales Route is definitely a long day and is dependent on good weather. If you go that route, stay at the albergue closest to the trailhead. Have fun planning – it’s the beginning of your pilgrimage. “Buen Camino!”