Walking the Camino: Searching for El Camino del Norte…

Leaving the seaside village of Camarinas, we travelled north west about 200 km to the equally small fishing port of Cedeira. Friendly advice from the manager of our hotel led us to a rustic, rural tavern where we dined well on freshly caught cockles and clams. We learned that several local restaurants had recently closed their doors or now open only a couple of times a week, due to the worsening economic crisis. We have seen similar signs in most towns visited, with many casas and tiendas for sale and in one town pink mats outside every second shop alerting shoppers to 20% discount off all produce.

Next day we moved on to postcardesque Cudillero, reported to be the most beautifully sited village along the northern coast. Just google it and you will see why! We had hoped to locate a stretch of the Camino path en route, near the Celtic settlement of Navia, but thick fog made us reassess our plans. By the time we reached the village a thunder storm was brewing, making even a short stroll around the port a challenge. Fortunately by morning the bad weather had cleared sufficiently to enable us to capture the wonder of the moment on our trusty cameras. Then armed with helpul advice from a range of local people, we managed to find a stretch of the Camino, sufficient for a two hour walk.

From what we have learnt so far, it seems that this component of the Camino often follows ashphalt roads. Having become used to walking 4-5 hours through green woodlands filled with colourful wild flowers and via tiny hamlets where we witness the mosaic of rural life, we found ourselves quite disappointed at the prospect of being thus constrained. But that is what this component of our journey is all about… trying to discover a route conducive to those seeking a tranquil, reflective space, as well as visiting nearby places of historical and cultural interest.

A day to relax, catch up on washing, postcards and other forms of communucation with family and friends was just what we needed when we arrived in World Heritage listed Oviedo, at the two week mark of our three week journey. We dined that night in a sideria – a cider house, where waiters stretch out both arms to tip frothy cider a distance of at least three feet into the glass of a customer, who doesn’t seem to mind that quite a bit splashes on the floor.

A visit on Sunday, to the craft and apparel market, archeological museum and art gallery, all situated in the centro antiguo with its unique architecture and sandstone facades, proved rewarding. This was topped off nicely by our timely, albeit accidental, immersion in a colourful street festival complete with a marching band of drums and bagpipes and a host of men, women and children dressed in period costume, all following a man dressed in white, mounted on the most beautiful white horse! The 800th anniversary of the triumph of local communities over renegade invaders – a gentle reminder of our place in the history of personkind.

In the next few days we resume our quest for tranquil walking paths along the Camino route and in the foothills of the Picos de Europa…

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