The Landscape of the Camino de Santiago

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”

-John Muir

 

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Wow! Has it been this long since we last spoke? Man, does time really fly. I must admit that it has been a strange adjustment since returning home from the Camino. It seems to have affected me more than I had anticipated (in a good way, I assure you).

Because there is an incredibly vast amount of memories from our trip on the Camino, I will limit my posts on all of it. As you saw in the title, this will be about the landscape and scenery along the way; which to sum up in a single word, was magnificent.

We began the journey in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, which is the beginning of the Camino Frances, “the French Way” which is the most popular route to Santiago. The first day is said to be the steepest as you trek up the Pyrenees Mountains, so you really have to want to do this!

Of course, it rained on the first day, but the only added to the story! The first day was challenging, yet the beauty of the French countryside was something to marvel at. I have

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Taking a rest in the Pyrenees

wonderful memories of white spots of sheep grazing on the side of a green mountain.

After crossing into Spain and spending some time in the mountains, we gradually went into the Meseta, which is a vast plateau. In the Meseta, it was hot! We had become used to the cool temperatures in the mountains and this came as a bit of a shock.  The good news, however, is that it was flat and we were able to cover more ground than in the mountains and after the constant up and down, the walking here seemed easier.

It was here that the agriculture switched from cattle and sheep to crops. There were many wineries we passed (one with a free wine fountain!) and many wheat fields. In these wheat fields were stunning red poppies and to see them swaying in the wind in a field of golden wheat was an image I never tired of.

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Poppies next to a marker showing the way

Following our stint in the Meseta, we ventured back up into the mountains. I think this was my favorite scenery of the walk as we had days where we were surrounded by fog and others where you could see for miles in the distance. Plus, it wasn’t hot!

Here, the agriculture went to almost totally cattle. It was like traveling back in time as we went through numerous villages where the farmer would be herding his cattle through the streets to the next pasture. We really could have been walking 800 years ago. It was incredible to see people still living beautifully simple lives like this.

During this part, we encountered a lot of rain and had to pull out our ponchos just about every day. There were a couple of days when we had to stop early (and others when we should have because of an incoming storm. We got good use out of our clothes wash bags after muddy days like these.

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One of many muddy days

Despite the rain, the views from the mountains were absolutely stunning. It was fun to see all the little villages scattered throughout the countryside; knowing you’ll be visiting those ahead and looking back at the ones already traveled through.

Then, after all this. We finally arrived in Santiago de Compostella! We spent two days in the city, visiting all the sites and spending quite a bit of time at the Cathedral. I will go into more detail about the city in a later post, but will continue to write about the landscape in this one.

Following the arrival, we decided we weren’t quite done. We continued on to the coast to Muxia, then to Finisterre: “the end of the world.” We had made it to the end, where the ocean swallowed up the sun, and our journey was over.

Thank you for reading!

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Sunset at “the end of the world”

 

 

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