Short stories, Travel and Health Information
Having walked the Camino almost a decade ago, I have the privilege now of looking look back on many happy memories of people and places.
Along my five hundred mile journey I connected with innumerable folk with whom I felt united in what was a common quest. My slow pace of travel allowed me to enjoy the variety and natural beauty of the regions I walked through – the majestic Pyrenees, the rolling vineyards of the Rioja, the forest-clad hills east of Burgos, the unrelenting flatness of the wheat fields of Castille, the snow-capped peaks of the Cantabrian mountains, the sparsely populated hill country of the Maragatos, the almond blossoms of the Bierzo valley and the Irish mists and greyness of Galicia.
Now back in my own home, when oft I lie in vacant or in pensive mood, I see in my mind’s eye sunlight dappling on a stream trickling underneath an ancient stone bridge – or a windswept view of the Pyrenees – or an ochre path stretching out into the distance through flat fields of wheat. I recall evenings spent in the company of strangers who became family for a night ‒ dinner by candlelight at the Albergue San Nicolas, a twilight singsong with fellow pilgrims in the lawn of the Albergue San Mamed de Camino, just sitting in the evening sun by the river in Villafranca del Bierzo savouring a simple meal of tinned zamburinos, olives, bread and wine.
I remember the kindness of strangers – the lady in Ventosa who bought food for me and refused payment, the couple from Devon who shared their meal with me in Navarette, the optometrist in Carrion de Los Condes who fixed my broken specs without charging me a cent for this. I still keep in touch with friends I would never have met if not for the Camino – Roland in Lyons, Fahdi in Paris, Leonie in Brisbane, Greg in Canada.
Big cities like Leon and Burgos I found impressive, smaller ones like Astorga and Ponferrada were delightful, the many little towns and villages were decidedly quaint. The views on the mountains, whether in the Pyrenees, in Galicia or looking across to the Cantabrian hills, were breath taking.
But none of these places was so extraordinarily beautiful as to hold me back. The Camino is beautiful enough to keep you walking because The Way was, in fact, my destination.
Walking the Camino was like reading a good book. When you reach the end you are sorry that you have finished it!