Sept. 13: Liendo- 15 miles
The day begins easily, walking along the coast and we take in the lovely views. We then turn inland, climbing higher and higher on a dirt road which never seems to end. Walking through a eucalyptus forest is our only distraction, with its magical feel and it’s wonderful scent.
At first glance, it looks as if Liendo isn’t much of a town; just a church and a few stores, until we turn the corner and view magnificent homes, one more impressive than the next. We slow down to admire their iron gates, red tiled roofs, patios and manicured gardens. Our hotel, Posada La Torre de La Quintana, a historic home from the 17th century, stands out the most and we are immediately charmed by its massive stone walls, wooden beamed ceilings and antique furnishings. In 2008, the home was turned into a rural inn, but we feel as if we are a guest in the home of an aristocratic family.
We dine with a couple from West Virginia and are entertained by their adventures of traveling the Camino via electric bicycle. When we mention we live near Austin, the husband says he knew it by my relaxed, chill vibe. Me?! Come to think of it, I haven’t thought about an Excel spreadsheet, planning or worrying since we’ve arrived in Spain. “Es lo que es,” is this the new Camino me? Michael seems.different too. Usually reserved, he greets everyone he passes with an “Hola” (Hello), including every dog (“Hola, Perro!”). After a lovely breakfast on the patio, it’s tIme to reluctantly say goodbye and continue on.
Sept. 14: San Miguel de Meruelo- 19 miles
With various options and unclear markings, it’s hard to discern the official route. We tread cautiously, not wanting to waste any steps. When our guidebook mentions to watch for drop offs along the rugged coast, especially in fog, we realize today will not be a relaxing walk, but at least it’s not foggy.
At first glance, it looks liked San Miguel de Meruelo isn’t much of a town. At second glance, it still isn’t. Hosteria Sol is an alburgue (pilgrim hostel) with small, clean rooms. The dining room is filled with books and jazz plays softly. A sign says “Por favor, a poco de paz- descanso,” (Please, some peace- rest!). A woman comes from the kitchen, welcomes us and gets us settled, but the owner is so grouchy. There is an article on the wall about him being an author, Maybe he has writer’s block?
There are limited restaurant choices in town, so we stay put for dinner. We dine with a couple from the Netherlands that are staying here too. We see fewer pilgrims than we did on the French route, but they are all very friendly.
Sept. 15 -16: Santander
As a pilgrim, it’s “Your Camino.” You can stay in a “donativo,” in a church on a floor mat for a donation, or a five star hotel. You can walk as much or as little as you’d like, completing your journey or continuing each year as vacation allows. You can travel on foot, bike or horseback. Buses, trains and taxis can move you along when you’d rather not.
So, when Michael realizes his blisters were more serious than he’d thought, we decide to bus to Santander and give them time to heal during our rest day. Luckily, the Hotel Art Santander is located close to the street elevators and escalators and save us from walking up the steep city streets. It’s contemporary look and interesting art installations give it an edgy vibe.
Santander is one of those lucky cities with an urban beach in its center and a lively promenade alongside it. Built in 1904, the Mercado La Esperanza houses food stalls in its sprawling iron and glass Belle Époque building. What a wonderful way to grocery shop! I am mesmerized by the women fish mongers. With samurai-like knives and focused precision, they fillet fish as if it was an art form. When all three of them rapidly finish in unison, I start to clap and for just one moment, their intense countenances change to smiles.
Wow… to once again experience these life changing moments. Enjoy El Camino, my friends! Safe travels. ❤️
Muchas Gracias, mi amiga-
Pienso en ti a menudo.