New ‘Camino with a Difference!’ itineraries posted: Join us in 2018 on one of the lesser traveled pilgrim trials to Santiago de Compostela

Walking the Camino: The small town of Arcade

In 2018 we are offering three Camino tours along several historic pilgrim trails, each one leading to Santiago de Compostela. All three tours are conducted over 13 days and include accommodation on the night before the journey begins. Luggage transfers are provided along with transport assistance for those who do not want to walk the full daily distance between our (comfortable 2-3 star) hotels and guesthouses.

Our mid May tour follows the Camino Portugues and includes two days walking on the more remote Camino Finisterre. This ‘flagship tour’ passes through picturesque rural landscapes and small villages. You can find the itinerary HERE.

Walking the Camino: Rich fertile farmlands near Muxia

Following the outstanding success of our inaugural tour earlier this year, between late May – mid June 2018 participants have the opportunity to walk along a different branch of the Camino Portugues. This route that follows the Atlantic coast is known as the Camino Monacal.  Mid way through the tour the Camino pathway joins the traditional Portuguese trail as it winds its Way through the Spanish province of Galicia towards Santiago. You can find the itinerary HERE.

Walking the Camino: Starting out on our Way beside the Portuguese coast

September, the start of the European Autumn is a perfect time to come with us along another lesser-traveled pilgrim trail.  The Camino del Norte hugs the northern coast of Spain and boasts magnificent scenery. We walk on well trodden pilgrim pathways beside the Cantabrian Sea with the high snow caped peaks of the Picos de Europa in the distance. Half way through our journey the Camino splits dirverting us to the Original Way know as the Camino Primitivo. An added highlight is the chance to walk into the historic pilgrim city from the more remote western part of Galicia along the Camino Finisterre. You can find the itinerary HERE.

Walking the Camino – Time to ponder life’s wonders along the caostal Camino del Norte

Bookings are now being received for all three tours. Based on strong interest from people who have traveled with us previously and others who have been referred by friends, it would be wise to contact us early to reserve a place. Our Camino tours are restricted to 14 participants. If you would like to learn something about our previous journeys along these and other Camino trails, scroll down. You can read what former tour participants say by selecting the testimonials tab.

If you click ‘FOLLOW” at the bottom right hand corner of this page you will receive regular updates when new posts are added. We are currently commencing our 2017 tour along the Camino Portugues and will be posting an account of the highlights of our journey along with lots of photos. Stay tuned!


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Travel Enriched 2018 Spring Tours will soon begin!

Walking the Camino: Grape Harvest

At last the long wait in the lead up to the Travel Enriched Spring Tours 2018 is nearly over! The coming month will see us following three of the lesser travelled Pilgrim trails to Santiago de Compostela. First up is our 13 day signature tour along the traditional Camino Portugues via charming villages and fertile farm lands filled with budding grapevines and a wide variety of other crops.

Walking the Camino: Beautiful rural vistas abound along the traditional Camino Portugues

Coinciding with this tour a second offering provides a new challenge for the more experienced Camino walker. Beginning and ending in Santiago it follows the full circuit of the Camino Finisterre. Over 10 days this pathway passes through lush green forests and remote and rugged rural landscapes, often covered with colourful wildflowers.

Walking the Camino: A quiet moment at the end of our journey in Finisterre

Walking the Camino: Walking on a forest pathway on the Finisterre Peninsula

Those who join us in late May to mid June on our final Spring tour will follow the coastal route of the Camino Portugues. Commencing in the fascinating medieval city of Oporto this scenic pathway takes us along boardwalks and farming tracks between the mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. In the last few days it merges with the traditional route leading us to our historic Pilgrim destination.

Walking the Camino: Starting out on our Way beside the Portuguese coast

If you’d like to hear something of our adventures along these trails watch this space! Short summaries of the highlights together with a selection of photos will be posted over the next few weeks.

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Research with a difference! 

Walking the Camino – Come to Portugal in Spring to see stork chicks everywhere!

During the past week, in preparation for a bus tour planned for Spring 2019, two members of the Travel Enriched team have been busy exploring southern Portugal. Particularly interesting places visited on the south west coast include the small town of Aljezur with its historic hilltop fortress; Sines with its gigantic oil rigs; and Odemira with its colourful streetscapes.

Walking the Camino – The attractive townhall in Cacais

Walking the Camino – A stork eyed view of the countryside near Silves

Lucky for some! One evening, at a cliff-side cafe high above the white washed village of Odeceixe we dined on tapas, before the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean. We spoke to other travellers who had walked for several days along fishermen’s trails, and through lush valleys and pine and eucalyptus forests. Breath-taking views of wide, white sandy beaches and rugged coastline greeted us in the small villages of Arrifana and Carrapateira; and in Bordeira with its colourful display of wild flowers growing out of the sand dunes.

Walking the Camino – Wildflowers futher enhance the coastal view as we head south

Other highlights were reaching the iconic lighthouse at Cabo Sao Vicente on the westernmost tip of Europe; exploring the former Arab settlement of Lagos; and visiting the red brick fortress of Silves, a hillside town steeped in history, with Moorish, Greek and Roman influences. Perhaps the jewel in the crown was the chance to spend a couple of days in Tavira, one of the prettiest towns on the south coast. This former trading port, where one can see the foundations of a seven arch Roman bridge, was under Arab rule between the 8th and 13th centuries. Today a short ferry ride to the 14km sandy beach of Tavira Island is a popular day trip amongst visitors.

Walking the Camino – Tavira, one of the prettiest towns on the south coast of Portugal

Before returning to Lisbon we also visited the former Roman settlement of Evora with its well maintained ruins of the Temple of Diana and remnants of an 8km aqueduct through the centre of town. From there a one hour drive took us to the strategic and stunningly sited walled village of Monsaratz that was successively occupied by different peoples since prehistoric times. We explored the remains of its Moorish castle dating back to the 12th C.

Walking the Camino – A pretty riverside town beside the rio Sado

We will now add these new insights about southern Portugal to the host of information that we have gleaned over the past 7 years of Camino walking in areas north of Lisbon. The itinerary for our 15 day bus tour commencing in late April 2019 should be finalised by July 2018.

Walking the Camino – A pretty streetscape in Tavira

Walking the Camino – A peaceful garden scene

Walking the Camino – Arrows show the Way to the pilgrim destinations of Fatima (blue) and Santiago (yellow)

Walking the Camino – A shady resting place after another day of exploring southen Portugal

Walking the Camino – A welcome lunch stop in Silves

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Walking the Camino: A unique experience for all who travel along The Way

Walking the Camino: Panoramic view, Douro River Oporto

Mid September marked the start of our long awaited European Autumn tour along the Camino Portugues. In Oporto a panoramic photo of the city skyline sparks memories of our initial day spent exploring the city’s fascinating medieval core.

Walking the Camino: Setting out along the Camino Portugues

Walking the Camino: Via rural landscapes we walk onward to Santiago

Next morning we set off under blue skies on our 10 day journey travelling in the footsteps of countless pilgrims past who walked this Way to Santiago de Compostela. Traditional scallop shells on our day-packs and pilgrim passports in our pockets we soon learnt to find and follow the emblematic yellow arrows. Our regular mantra of ‘Bom Caminho’ when in Portugal and ‘Buen Camino’ in Spain was eagerly reciprocated by all who passed us by.

Walking the Camino: Harvest time on the Way to Santiago

Our path in northern Portugal and in the Spanish province of Galicia led us through picturesque rural landscapes and via peaceful villages. Most days we walked beside late summer fields resplendent with colourful foliage and fruit ready for the harvest. As if by magic, just when shade was needed, leafy paths through forests of pine and eucalyptus trees provided welcome relief from the afternoon sun.

Walking the Camino: Walking through vineyards on Our Way to Santiago

Walking the Camino: The central plaza in Pontedevedra

Particular highlights included a chance encounter with hundreds of primary school children from Portugal and Spain who had gathered beside the river in the historic small town of Ponte de Lima. It seems that our visit coincided with a festival to celebrate the passage of the Rio Lima through both countries, this symbolising the friendship that now exists between these once warring nations.

Walking the Camino: Festival of children in Ponte de Lima

Mid way, a day free of long distance walking provided some interesting attractions of another kind. We enjoyed a bus trip to the mouth of the Rio Minho that marks the border between Portugal and Spain then travelled beside the Atlantic Ocean in the southern most part of Galicia. A visit to a highly sited ancient Celtic settlement called Santa Trega provided spectacular views of the township of A Guardia and along the rugged coastline. Further on at the historic waterfront monastery of Oia, a village band wound its way through the narrow cobbled laneways musically rallying local residents to Sunday Mass.

Walking the Camino: Santa Trega – An ancient Celtic site high above the Rio Minho

Walking the Camino: A Guardia at the mouth of the Rio Minho

Walking the Camino: All smiles on our day trip beside the Atlantic ocean

Walking the Camino: Yellow arrows show The Way in Oia

Perhaps an unexpected highlight was the chance to interact with like-minded travellers from other countries, sharing stories and sometimes songs created along The Way. With a spring in our step, we sang our own rendition of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ inviting others to ‘Come walk the Portuguese Camino with me’! As the days passed these and other recollections merged into a rich tapestry that represented our own unique pilgrimage experience.

Walking the Camino: View from a coastal pilgrim path near Baiona

Walking the Camino: A peaceful pilgrim pathway through northern Portugal

And finally, each one having walked more than 100kms, we reached the World Heritage listed city of Santiago! Here one can’t miss the buzz in the air as people from around the world celebrate the end of their journey. As if to further reward our efforts those who attended the Pilgrim Mass in the Cathedral joined in another special experience. They witnessed the ancient tradition in which a giant botafumeiro swings across the width of the Sanctuary spreading incense on the congregation. In earlier times this helped to clear the air of the smell of unwashed pilgrims. These days it provides a symbolic and often emotive end to a sometimes challenging, but personally rewarding journey.

Walking the Camino: The swinging giant incense burner in Santiago Cathedral

Walking the Camino: A window scene at our riverside hotel in the Portuguese countryside

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Walking the Camino: Upcoming Camino Portugues & what’s ahead for 2018

The time is fast approaching for the start of our September tour along the Camino Portugues.  This 10-day journey through northern Portugal and the Spanish province of Galicia commences in the magnificent medieval city of Oporto and leads to Santiago de Compostela.  Some tour participants will then extend their stay in Santiago and take a day trip to the Finisterre peninsula.

Walking the Camino: A typical scene along the Coastal Camino Portugues

This completes the portfolio of five ‘Camino with a Difference!’ tours that we offered in 2017: one along the Camino del Norte; three on the Camino Portugues (one of which followed the Portuguese coastal trail); and a bus tour from southern Spain that followed the route taken by pilgrims along the Camino Mozarabe and Via de la Plata to the northern coast.

Walking the Camino: Strolling through a colourful village

Walking the Camino: Signs along The Way on the remote Finisterre peninsula

As in previous years we are receiving many requests about our future tours from people recommended to us by previous participants.  As well as this an increasing number of former participants enjoyed our small group tour so much that they are coming with us again, this time on a different Camino trail. A quick glace at our Testimonials page will give you some idea of why people speak so highly of the Travel Enriched Camino experience.

In 2018 we will again offer tours along a number of the lesser-traveled Camino routes including the traditional Camino Portugues; the coastal Camino Portugues also known as the Camino Monacal; and the Camino del Norte.  The itinerary for the first of these tours can be accessed via the following link: Tour CPF.  Itineraries for other 2018 tours will be posted in the coming weeks.

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Walking on the Camino: And now for something different! Following the Camino Mozarabe by bus

Walking the Camino: Storks nesting in church spires

After completing two walking tours along the Camino del Norte and the Camino Portugues, our third European Spring tour was by bus commencing in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia. Commencing in Granada we travelled over 1200 kms and visited many fascinating historical sites in cities such as Seville, Córdoba, Salamanca and Oviedo, as well as exploring archaeological ruins along the ancient Roman road called the Rua de la Plata. Smaller cities such as Cadiz, Ronda and Caceres were also on our agenda. The last few days were spent exploring the northern mountainous region called the the Picos de Europa and visiting some of the prettiest towns along the northern coast.

During 15 days we gained a broad appreciation, just a glimpse, of the historical significance of each location and slowly began to piece together something of the past and present day life of this magnificent country. We were struck by the splendour of the changing architecture across so many centuries; the daily feast of spectacular scenery; and the constant warmth of the people.

Walking the Camino: The high peaks of The Picos de Europa

When invited to nominate the tour highlights, this is what some participants said:

In addition to the historical gems such as the Alhambra in Granada, the Alcázar in Seville and the Mezquita in Cordova, we were presented with many surprises such as an informative tour of a “jámon” drying room in Trevelez, a working roman amphitheatre in Mérida, the stately Plaza Major of Cáceres, cider pouring in Oviedo and the rugged Picos de Europa. So much to see and so much to discover. Mary & John A., Melbourne, Vic.

Walking the Camino: The Alhambra from San Nicholas lookout

The delight of serene Islamic architecture and gardens. The surprise of yet another Medieval town. Large expansive open plazas like Plaza Mayor in Salamanca abuzz with people and conversations. Unexpected discoveries like turning a corner and finding a charming Arabic house from the 1200s. Winding weaving narrow laneways shaded from hot sun. Ann R., Melbourne, Vic.

Walking the Camino: Plaza Espana in Seville

Unexpected joys of music, the wonderful men’s choir from Portugal and a local choir performing in the church of San Mathias Granada and being in the Sevilla cathedral at the end of mass to hear the magnificent power of the organ. Marvelling at the skills and craftsmanship of the artisans and builders of ancient times without our so called modern day tools. Deborah G., Vic.

Walking the Camino: Comillas beside the Cantabrian Sea

The variety of historic sites and scenery gave me a good feel of historic and present day life. I loved the areas of Granada and Seville where we stayed, tiny laneways and very atmospheric in such large cities. Caceres was a total surprise, where the layers of Spanish history were so evident in a charming town. Alison H, Sydney, NSW.

Walking the Camino: The strategically sited city of Ronda

Walking the Camino: Cider pouring Spain

I was hugely impressed with our crossing of the mountains, between Salamanca and Oviedo. Breathtakingly beautiful in the brooding weather, and totally unexpected.

Oviedo, the place for cider! Never seen it poured like this before! John & Judy R., Hobart, Tas.

I’ve been mesmerised by how anthropology and history interrelate to help me understand Spanish and European human development. Lesley H., Melbourne, Vic.

My favourite place was the Mezquita. An unusual combination of a very beautiful mosque that contains a Catholic church which may have saved it from destruction. It provides hope that one day people of different faiths can worship together. Ronda D., Sydney, N.S.W.

Every place we visited was beautiful, fascinating and engaging!  Getting to know Seville over 5 nights was excellent – not only being able to see the amazing Alcazar and captivating Cathedral without rushing, but being able to visit quieter back streets and sites and find a range of great restaurants, was a joy. Deborah R, Gisborne, Vic.


Walking the Camino: A colourful lane in La Alphujarras


Traders and invaders

Dogmas and dictators

2+ millennia in 2 weeks

Passionate people

Proud traditions

Friendly group

Flexible leaders

Sensory overload

But wonderfully rich…

Steve M., Melbourne.



Walking the Camino: Setting out in Granada

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Walking the Camino: Shared images of journey

Crossing the Rio Minho we arrive in Spain – Galicia to be more precise where the language is more like Brazilian Portuguese than Castillano. We put our clocks forward one hour and now the sun sets at around 10.00pm. After walking long distance for several hours shared plates of tapas at 7.00pm are far more attractive than dinner at 9.00pm.

The days fly by and before we know it we near the end of our journey. Some collective images and photos from group members will give you some idea of this most memorable Camino experience.

Walking the Camino: Modern farming in Celtic ruins

Coming face to face with ancient cultures like Celtic and Roman settlements, and observing traditional land holdings and methods of cultivation. Walking ancient paths trodden by many others over many years. Reflecting on who I am, we are, our connections with each other and past dwellers. Balancing exchanging bits of life stories whilst walking companionably with my fellow travellers, and creating solitude for myself so that I hear the birds, take in the trees, the flowers, voices. The luxury of someone guiding responsibly and lightly who also leaves space for individual ways to experience. Ann R. Melbourne, Vic.

Walking the Camino: Caminoing through the forest

Forest floor
Leaf litter
Oak, pine, gum
Soft underfoot.

Towns and paths
Blur into memory
Glympsing life
Through other’s eyes.

Sun and shade
Stories and silence
Crops and stone
Rural and village

Camino walking
In footsteps of thousands

Walking the Camino: Wild flowers in Spring

Of feet and years
Unique journeys
Shared humanity.

Camino Portugues
Pines and eucalypts
In rows and columns
March across hillsides

Paths cross briefly
Lifetime journey.

Steve M. Melbourne, Vic.


Walking the Camino: Rich fertile farmlands near Muxia

Sun dappled track in a sea of green, with the ocean and a white sand beach sometimes visible through the pine trunks. Muxia is on a rocky peninsula with a lovely big protected bay on one side and the wild Atlantic Ocean on the other. Visible remains of Celtic and Roman occupation everywhere. Drystone walls marking out fields and what were once houses built right to the edge of the rocky shore. John D. Melbourne, Vic.

Walking the Camino: Snapped en route to Muxia

Today was special. The walk from Finisterre up over the hill in the cool of the morning towards Lires started confidently by all now we are so much fitter than at the beginning of the tour. The farmland gave way to the forest, then spectacular coastal views and then, more forest. We are all so much more aware of the sound of the birds now. Muxia was special for the rugged coastline and the history of the church on the rocks. The day finished with a swim in the Atlantic. Never thought I would be doing this on the Camino walk. Bernie F. Adelaide, Sth Aust.

Walking the Camino: Walking along cliff tops near Finisterre

Reflective walking. Deep green colours of pines providing welcome shade. And we journey on… Diana G. Melbourne, Vic.

Walking the Camino: Hórreos

So we have arrived in Santiago, a sacred place, a spiritual journey for each person in their own particular way.

Santiago, another Spanish town with a big cathedral? Yes but that’s not all! A magical place full of life, music and excitement. We were unprepared for the amount of music and dancing. On the Saturday night groups of people singing in the streets. Not busking, just singing together in the streets. Bands roaming from square to square with violins, guitars, Galician bagpipes and flutes. The unmistakable Celtic heritage of the area coming through with its own Galician flavour.

The next night, Galician dancing in the square, Galician pipes at the book fair with the player promoting his book. A Hurdy-Gurdy concert at a bar that would surprise you with its virtuosity, followed by an all-comers night that started at midnight and sounds and felt like an Irish pub.

No, the journey doesn’t necessarily stop at the cathedral!

Michael & Sue T. Hobart, Tas.

Walking the Camino: First glimpse of Santiago Cathedral from the Finisterre Way

Walking the Camino: With pilgrim friend in Padron

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Walking the Camino: Doing it Our Way in Northern Portugal

Walking the Camino: On the Way to Pedra Feruda

Includes written contributions from Diana G, Ann R, Steve M and Penny B.

It’s a week since our intrepid band of Ozzies began to follow the Camino trail that winds through northern Portugal and Galicia to Santiago de Compostela. Rain did not dampen our spirits as we explored the sights of the fascinating UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Oporto home to the renowned Douro River port wine growing region. From colourful Rua Santa Caterina and the majestic Liberation square to the 12th C. Cathedral where a stamp on our pilgrim passports marked the beginning of our journey. Finally winding our way down steep stone steps to the bustling riverfront. 

Walking the Camino: Ribeira district in Oporto

Next day we walked in brilliant sunshine via flower filled country lanes and vineyards resplendent with new growth to coastal Vila do Conde. Old crafts such as bobbin lace making are still practised here and the sense of community is clearly evident. By accident we came across a shop front where a group of local residents are seated in a circle. Men, women and young girls with heads down cheerfully tearing fresh green leaves from  a pile of cut branches in the centre of the room. “We need help” calls a friendly gentleman and we are welcomed in. They are preparing for an annual celebration, laboriously making leaf and petal carpets to adorn the streets. 

Walking the Camino: Preparing for a festival in Vila do Conde

Then followed several days of reflective, quiet walking through small villages and farming communities.  Peaceful trails through forests, our pathway often framed by ancient stone walls. The peaceful sounds of church bells, cocks crowing, goats bleating and frogs croaking become familiar to us. How privileged are we to be gifted with brief glimpses into Portuguese lives. The essence of Portugal. A modern nation, a proud people, living close to the soil with a tradition as old as the bridges in our photos that date back to Roman occupation. 

Walking the Camino: Through Farmland

Walking the Camino: Pretty tiled church in Vilarinho

Walking the Camino: An unusual garden scene

Walking the Camino: Over an Ancient Bridge

Onward through the lively market town of Barcelos where local residents prepare for a medieval festival, to charming a Ponte de Lima.  This is a place where elderly gentlemen tip their hats and say ‘Bom Dia’ as you pass. Ancient olive trees sit proudly amongst the stones in the town square and if you are short of a few herbs to spice your cooking you can forage for bay leaves from trees planted in brightly painted red pots or pick the rosemary and mint that flourish in garden beds.

Walking the Camino: Barcelos Market

Walking the Camino: Barcelos

Too soon it is our last night in Portugal. There is so much that we will miss as we reach the Rio Minho border crossing. Not only the magnificent vistas and the gentle, fun loving people but the great coffee and the tasty food – not to mention the Portuguese custard tarts! But Spain is calling and so we walk on.

Walking the Camino: Looking good at the start of our Camino

Walking the Camino: Day 1 Lunch stop in Arcos

Walking the Camino: Pretty streetscape in Viana do Castelo

Walking the Camino: Evening falls in Ponte de Lima

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Walking the Camino: With a spring in our step we journey onwards to Santiago

Walking the Camino: Walking over the historic Riam bridge in Ponte Maceiro

Written contribution from Deborah R. 

After breakfast overlooking a calm blue sea we followed a stylish promenade to the outskirts of Ribadesella.  Soon we were in lush green countryside with happy colourful wild flowers along the roadsides.  Past apple orchards of pretty pink and white bloom we wound through pretty villages.  One village, Vega, caught our attention with its ancient horreos and striking trompe l’oeil painted onto an abandoned house. Windy and wet weather near the coast made walking a bit tougher today, with several muddy paths, but we soldiered on much further than planned.  Some enjoyed a cliff top picnic until a cold front made us retreat to a warm café bar beside the beach.  The stunning coastal views and meandering village paths were a great contrast.  The sight of our quirky ancient hotel in the small town Colunga was most welcome after a long but rewarding walk.

Walking the Camino: At the Sancturario de la Barca in Muxia

Walking the Camino: 9_The Oratory of San Salvador de Valdedios dates from 893 A.D.

Next day as we headed inland the scenery changed to more rural farmland, with yet more hedgerows of wild roses and other pretty perennials and flowering weeds. Interspersed with views of ancient churches we witnessed farmers tending their apple orchards and vegetable patches. We saw the pre-Romanesque Church of San Salvador consecrated in 921 and though it was locked up a friendly local showed us photos of the original frescoes inside.  Some were entertained by a few loud, defensive geese, but mostly we simply drank in the stunning countryside views and forest pathways, until we arrived in the medieval town of Villaviciosa and enjoyed hot baths in a 400-year old building recently converted to a super comfortable hotel. After 20km luckily we didn’t need to venture far to find a delicious meal.

Despite a few tired walkers among us we took to the path next morning with determination, with warm weather predicted and a promise of a country house at the end of the day. The split in our pathway between the Camino del Norte and the Camino Primitivo was cause for one of several great conversations with locals.  Senora Patty not only told us the history of the shrine but donated a poem about it as well as inspiring words written on cloth and packets of sweets and nuts to help us on our Way!  Another meeting, this time with a fellow responsible for maintaining the yellow arrows, and his Cuban cigar-smoking friend, was most entertaining.  Some witnessed a cow in labour but the highlight was a successful ascent of a very long and steep mountain up to the village of La Campa, with stunning views from the top.  Lunch opposite the Church of San Salvador Valededios built in 893 A.D. and staying in a lovely rural house alongside the Camino were additional highlights.  Our host Belen cooked a fabulous tasty meal with local produce, to top off a very full day.

Walking the Camino: Local people paint Waymarkers along the Camino del Norte

Soon after setting off from our ‘casa rural’ next day we walked over yet another Roman bridge.  The grounds of the 15th C. Palacio Meres provided a luxurious location for a picnic lunch.  Our rich and diverse conversations continued despite the final stretch through relatively built up areas. Arriving in Oviedo we headed towards the Cathedral spire where we photographed its ‘crooked arch’ pointing The Way to Santiago. We stopped nearby at the statue of King Alfonso II who initiated the Camino in the 9th C. then placed our feet on a plaque that marks the start of the orignal Camino path, the Primitive Way.

And so the days passed by. Far too quickly we reached Santiago with its ornate 11th C. cathedral. Time to enjoy its special ambience and mingle with pilgrims from many different lands. Like us they had navigated diverse terrain and challenging climatic conditions over many miles. A celebratory group dinner hosted by our friends from the Camino Travel Center (who have managed all our tour logistics so well) was a culinary delight!

Walking the Camino: Commemorating the end of our pilgrim journey in Santiago

Then followed two memorable days of walking through the Finisterre peninsula. Particular highlights were the charming village of Maceiro with its historic Roman bridge; the tiny fishing port of Muxia with its dramatically sited Santuario de la Virgen de la Barca; and finally reaching the light house in Finisterre, known for centuries as the end of the earth. Our collective Camino at an end we returned to Santiago to reconnect with our individual life journeys. But the close bonds formed during the past two weeks suggest that it won’t be long until we meet again to share memories of our experiences along The Way.

Walking the Camino: Up at the Faro in Finisterre

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Walking the Camino: From Bilbao to Ribadesella along the Camino del Norte

Walking the Camino –
Just another magnificent vista along the Camino del Norte

Including written/photo contributions from Sandra E., Sydney NSW & Rob W. Melb, Vic.

It’s now a week since we commenced our Camino in the colourful north coastal city of Bilbao.  Here we see many different architectural styles.  The best examples include the Renaissance/ Gothic Cathedral; the neoclassical arcades of Plaza Nueva; and the contemporary, river front Guggenheim Museum of modern art.

Walking the Camino – The 12th C. Collegiate Church in Santillana del Mar

Walking the Camino – Guggenheim

Heading west we spent a night in the well-preserved medieval village of Santillana del Mar with its distinctive stone houses and the renowned 12th C. Collegiate Church and Romanesque cloisters.  Much lively chatter and laughter accompanied our first group dinner where we enjoyed countryside hospitality and high quality cuisine.

Walking the Camino – The beauty of the landscape never ceases along the Camino del Norte

Walking the Camino – Bufones de Arenillas on the coastal Camino del Norte

Then followed four wonderful days of walking through magnificent rural landscapes between the Sea of Cantabria and the snow capped Picos de Europa.  Although there are not many other pilgrims on this trail we have enjoyed daily encounters with people from many other distant lands.

Initially the weather was perfect – more recently we’ve had the chance to test the quality of our water-proof boots, clothes and day pack covers.  But the rain also had a silver lining!  A welcome opportunity to shelter in a café in the tiny hamlet of Naves where the friendly proprietor went out of his way to acquire some homemade crusty bread to go with local cheese and Iberian ham from his kitchen.

In the words of another member of our group:

Walking the Camino – Time to ponder life’s wonders along the caostal Camino del Norte

Day 5 and some of us have walked around 70kms.  Our journey so far has taken us on a path that engulfs the traveller in snow-capped mountains alongside wide empty beaches nestled in small fishing villages.  We have walked along narrow pathways in over grown forests; pebble roads with abandoned 16/18 Century washer rooms to the side; and across farmland overlooking the sea.  Animals are abundant with horses, sheep, goats and cattle grazing, cow bells singing and dogs barking.  We have stumbled upon 15th Century Monasteries that once showed hospitality to earnest pilgrims seeking the will of God. 

Walking the Camino – Is it really that far to Santiago?

Today our earnestness rests with the search for a good coffee along the road. We converse in a way that is free of some of the constraints that might be there back in Australia.  The Camino – the Way – evokes conversation around the past, the present and the future.  It is about storytelling and there are many stories to be told and heard in this very supportive environment, walked upon over the centuries by other curious seekers. 

We meet fellow pilgrims along the Way who freely share their intentions; one French women working through a difficult time in her life.  Another seeking clarity around her future career, yet another, just enjoying the countryside without a goal in mind.  Whatever the intention we notice a respect for the pilgrim from the locals as we walk through their villages with our packs on our backs, Camino shells clanging and walking sticks in hand. 

Walking the Camino – Day 1 Setting off to Comillas

Approaching a hilltop Church near Santillana del Mar

The contrast in terrain is as startling as the change in weather.  But what is a genuine surprise to many is the smell of eucalyptus.  For some locals, a pest, an introduced species, but for us an amazing sensation that we are not far from Belgrave in the Dandenongs or Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.  What messes with our heads is that no sooner do we feel we are walking through Australian bush than we are confronted with, say, a stone wall belonging to a large Spanish villa from centuries before.  Tomorrow we walk along the coast to Colunga and whilst the weather might bring rain we are comforted with the knowledge that unlike the pilgrims of past a hot shower and comfortable bed await us. 

Rob W, Melbourne, Vic.

Walking the Camino – Under the Medieval bridge in Cangais de Onis in the Picos de Europa

Walking the Camino – A wayside chapel on the Camino del Norte

Walking the Camino – Enjoying desert at our first group dinner on the Camino del Norte

Walking the Camino – Did I just hear Ozzie accents passing my patch of the Camino del Norte

Walking the Camino – Time to smell the nasturtians on the coastal Camino del Norte

Walking the Camino – Camaraderie along the Way

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