Deck the halls I’m out of Spain, fa la la la la, la la la laaaa….
I am back! Sorry, for the above. ‘Tis the season.
And I’m sure everyone wants an answer to that burning question…
Did I complete the Camino de Santiago?
Here’s the short version.
On September 20, 2023 I walked out of St. Jean Pied de Port, France, the picturesque medieval town where the Camino Frances begins.
Nearly 800 km later, on October 27, 2023, I blew into Santiago de Compostela, Spain!
So, yes, I earned my compostela, the certificate of completion after I showed my credential with the stamps I collected along the Way. Yay me! This is quite an accomplishment. I crossed the finish line! Yeah!
Check out some of these pretty villages.
My first milestone was reaching the Alto Del Perdon – the hill of forgiveness. That hill should be apologizing to me for the steep up and down.
Another milestone was reaching the Cruz de Ferro and leaving my stone there.
“Only” 457 km left to go!
Enjoying some grapes a kind lady gave to me from her garden.
Here I am with Paz, the walking stick I picked up at the beginning of the Camino in St. Jean.
The weather in Spain was unseasonably hot for September and October, reaching 30C or higher every day. Hot, hot, hot! But during the last week I saw a few days of rain.
I capped off the Camino de Santiago with a visit to Finisterre. This is the place the Europeans believed to be the end of the world where they’d watch the ocean swallow the sun at nightfall.
The rest of the 3 months
Walking the Camino de Santiago took about half of my allotted three months in Spain.
So what else is there to do?
How about checking out Portugal for a week!
Here I am on the Algarve. The beaches of Lagos have some amazing cliffs and rock formations.
Seeing as how I’m so close, I have to visit the Rock of Gibraltar!
I climbed the Mediterranean Steps with gorgeous sea views. It was tougher than I thought it would be. I huffed and puffed my way to the top.
It took me an hour, but I felt it was doable seeing as how I was still Camino fit. At the top I spotted the sign that says the walk is rated “difficult” and takes two hours. Whew!
Then I went inside the Rock! St. Michael’s Cave has amazing stalactites and stalagmites, showcased with a light show.
I saw monkeys! The ones native to Gibraltar are called macaques. Here’s one enjoying the view.
I ended up staying in three weeks in the beautiful beach town of Lo Pagán on Spain’s Costa Calida. That would be the southeast portion of Spain. Lo Pagán is known for its healing mud baths and flamingos.
I stayed in a nice Airbnb that was about a one minute walk to the sea. Miles and miles of beachfront promenade. It was very relaxing to stay here and enjoy daily DIY spa treatments – mud and mineral water to wash it off. For free!
It was like staying in a deserted Waikiki Beach, but apparently the place is packed during the summer months. In November the temperature was still well into the 20s. That’s Celsius. Plenty warm enough to enjoy the beach.
In early December I volunteered with a program called Vaughan Town. This is an English language school and the Spaniards in the program are looking to improve their conversational English. Thus the need for English speaking volunteers. And all we do is talk all day!
Vaughan Town bused us to a town called Alcazar de San Juan and covered our hotel and food. I made some great friends. It was a wonderful experience. So much fun!
Ávila and Segovia
After Vaughan Town ended, I still had a few days to kill in Spain before my flight back to London. I decided to spend two nights each in Ávila and Segovia, which involved train and bus travel. These are medieval walled cities near Madrid.
Spain doesn’t go all out with Christmas decorations, but Ávila had some festivities going on.
I’ve never had chestnuts before but there was a booth selling them. It cost 2 Euros for six chestnuts. They weren’t so much roasting over an open fire as being cooked in a cauldron over a propane heater.
Then on to Segovia, known for a Roman aquaduct that was built around 2,000 years ago.
What an impressive cathedral!
The Alcazar of Segovia looks like it jumped out of a fairy tale.
Embracing Adventure: A Nomad’s Journey to Spain
That’s the recap of this nomad’s journey to Spain.
Stay tuned. There may be more blog posts coming up about my really long walk on the Camino de Santiago and other places I visited in Spain.
Published by Cheryl @ The Lifestyle Digs on December 17, 2023.