Hello friends, family and random followers! Our beautiful, loving, caring, adventurous grandmother passed away this Christmas. Missing her every day has been extremely hard for the entire family to cope with, but I know she’s with us in spirit every day, forever and always. With some money my mom gifted us from her inheritance, my sister and I will be walking the Camino de Santiago, a 500 mile hike, this summer. Mom thought that nothing would make grandma more happy from above than seeing sisters become closer while exploring the beautiful world God gave us. Family and travel were two of grandma’s favorite things.
Our journey begins in Barcelona, Spain, and will end at the Santiago de Compostela–a Spanish basilica containing the remains of St. James. We will be spending the first week in Barcelona and a few surrounding towns, and our 42-day trek will leave out of Bilbao. Though this trip originated as a spiritual journey for pilgrims all through out France and Spain, it has become quite a popular tourist attraction. Spain’s economy hosts just over 200,000 pilgrims each year.
85% of people take the inland trail, but we decided to take the path less traveled in order to walk all the way across the northern coast of Spain. I’m excited to be immersed in a culture different than my own, explore the Basque Country, witness the picturesque architectural works I’ve only read about in textbooks, eat lots of Spanish tapas, work on our endurance and fitness while carrying 23-lb packs on our backs for 10-15 miles per day (though I think the Spanish tapas may get in the way of our fitness goals), and finally to break out the Spanish vocab that I haven’t used since junior year of high school. “Dos cervesas por favor” will get us quite far, I’m sure!
Our packing list was very limited as we don’t want to schlep more than 25 pounds around with us wherever we go. We have three changes of exterior hiking gear and four changes of undergarments. Most “pilgrims” wear one outfit while they attach their other outfits to their backpacks in order to line-dry while walking. We have our phones, but no service unless we’re in areas containing wifi. I’m sure this will change within the next 24-hours because God only knows how people got around without google maps.
It was nearly $700 cheaper to fly out of Canada, so we stayed the night in Calgary with our awesome aunty and cousins. Our first flight left Calgary at 5:00pm and landed in London at 9:30am. The flight lasted just over nine hours, but because of the time-zone change, it was only completely dark for 20 minutes of our flight. We witnessed the sun set and rise within the same hour period! I was pretty mind boggled by the situation and don’t fully comprehend what happened, but it was pretty neat.
After landing in London, England and Frankfurt, Germany, we finally arrived in Spain just before the Spanish sunset. Once off the plane we searched for the bus that would take us to Sitges, the seaside village we will be staying in for the next three nights. At this time, we really began to realize how limited our Spanish vocabulary really is. We pulled out the Spanish dictionary/phrase-book to reference. It was nice to be able to talk to people, but then occurred the issue of having no comprehension of what people were trying to say back to us! Oops… Luckily, most people in the places we’ll be staying are fairly well-versed in English.
The air was cool and damp when we arrived in Sitges. We may have packed for better weather than we will actually be getting, but we’re hoping for the best! The bus dropped us off in the city center which was bustling with English tourists and colorful bar and restaurant atmospheres. The streets here are narrow, paved with marble blocks and definitely lack some signage. We accidentally happened upon the home of our AirBnB host, Manuel, when we turned down a cute little “calle” called Sitges Plaza and gained wifi access momentarily. Manuel’s third-story apartment has Spanish-style orange and pink stucco walls, intricate flooring patterns, and tall ceilings that are spanned with large exposed wooden beams. After being cooped up on a plane or in an airport for the last 24-hours straight, we are extremely excited to get some good sleep and explore. Buenos noches!