Camino del Norte: from Santander to Santander or as Sandy calls it “Meano del Norte”.

September 30 is a down day in Santander which means doing laundry and getting ready for another week of walking. We also visited the local mercado just for interest as we certainly can’t buy anything.


Sandy is always looking for vegetables as Karen Lewis, who planned this trip, is a vegetarian.
Certainly plenty of carne(meat) available.
How about this option Karen? Here’s looking at you.


Flea market going on outside the mercado. We went into the church seen at the end.


We really liked Santander with a good mix of old and new. Below is the original Santander Bank being renovated.


Heading out on El Camino again, October 1, our 13th day of walking, only 11 miles and 875 feet of elevation gain. 7:45am
Our tour company scheduled a limo to drive us to a hermitage to start our walk. The walk out of Santander is very industrial and boring, so we are missing all of that.  Our driver is very young and knows English well enough to have a nice conversation on the drive.


The sunrise was spectacular but hard to catch in a moving car. This is the hermitage, our starting point for today where there have been reported appearances of the Virgin Mary to a little shepherd girl.
It’s good to be back on the road again and out of the big city. One Camino option goes right for a longer more difficult route, we followed the road straight ahead for a flatter paved route. 


We love these whimsical gnomes in home gardens.


We so enjoy the varied architecture of the homes that we pass.


Railroad overpass for pedestrians and bikes with ramps.
Looks like nuclear reactors but it only says water. Couldn’t find any information on these.
A roadside cafe that we stopped by for coffee only as there were cats sitting on all of the counters inside.
Whimsical garden figures that Sandy loves.


We passed so many seemingly abandoned prime properties with expansive views.
Animals posing for Sandy.


This horse took the orange and ate just the fruit but not the peel.
Roadside shrine.
Coming into Santillana del mar, our destination for the day.
This lazy donkey has worn out the grass where he constantly lies.


Santillana del Mar is known for its medieval towers, Renaissance palaces and the Romanesque Santa Juliana Collegiate Church shown here.


Typical Camino markers in towns.
Lovely little jewelry store where we bought a surprise for someone????
We stopped at the upcoming cafe on the left for some very good pintxos and vino tinto.
Another view of Santa Juliana Collegiate Church.


Spectacular weather and a very cute little ancient town. Many movies have been filmed here.


This is our hotel for the night.
Our hotel lobby.
Sandy’s love.
Inside of Santa Juliana Collegiate Church which we had to talk our way into. Initial “guard” told Sandy it was closed but she saw the priest and used her charms on him to get us inside and get a stamp in our pilgrim passport.
October 2, waited until daylight today to leave. 8am, 15 miles and 1,900 feet of elevation gain planned.


It’s so fun walking through these towns when they are completely closed down and quiet.
First hill of the day and other pilgrims already ahead of us.
So while we are walking Sandy will say we need to stay positive and be thankful for great weather, no rain, no sun, no mud, no boulders, no mosquitos or whatever. We both feel so fortunate to be able to experience this and we love sharing it.  We feel that a positive attitude is so important on the Camino to get us through the unexpected obstacles and challenges that we face each day.
Looking back at the sun which is still rising even though it is bright heading west.


There are so many cornfields and we are not sure what they do with the corn, we suspect that it is not for human consumption.
This horse just sniffed the apple and did not seem interested in eating it.


Llamas or Alpacas?
St. Peter’s church, sitting all alone on the top of a hill.


We see a lot of smoke and have not yet discovered the source.


This donkey was very happy to see Sandy.
OK, enough with the animals.
More smoke.
Conflicting arrows, there are quite a few different alternatives. Jim reads our books and uses a couple of apps to keep us on course.


Jim asked the lady caretaker in this church if there were any bars or cafes that were open. She said that nothing was open on Saturday so we walked back to a small grocery store and bought some cheese, gazpacho and beer which we had in front of the church. We then walked about 100 meters down the street and found an open restaurant. Sandy was quite angry with her.


We just walked from sea level up to here.
We can often see our destination from many miles away when we reach the top of the hill.
Jim is really struggling on the hills, getting lightheaded and very fatigued.
Very ugly animals.


More interesting homes.


Fall colors.


Saturday afternoon and the place is deserted.


This is our stop for the night.
This is a golf resort, kind of a strange place for pilgrims to be staying.
Hard to find veggies here, but Sandy had a great salad and Jim had a veggie sandwich.
Rained hard overnight and just letting up this morning. We have a short day so we had breakfast and waited on the rain. 9am, 8.6 miles with only 600 feet of elevation gain.
Comillas is one of the most beautiful coastal cities of Cantabria and known for its fabulous architectural heritage.  There is a Gaudi designed house here but it is completely walled in and was not open until 10:30.  This is Pontifical University of Comillas which was later moved to Madrid.
This is the Palace of Sobrellano, way too much information to ingest in researching it. Us lowly pilgrims have to just walk on by, no time to be real tourists.
Don’t even know what this is.


There was a significant wind and rainstorm last night. Still very windy today. We saw a few trees down that we had to walk around.
We really thought that there was snow on these mountains at first but finally figured out that it is only rocks.
Another beautiful beach.


A lovely oceanfront cottage, no neighbors and great views.
Remnants of last nights storm, walking uphill into the wind was brutal.
Jim is getting slower and slower, the wind doesn’t help.
Sandy is not even in sight even though she has been waiting for Jim today. Very worried!!!!
We are both great going downhill and on the flats or gentle grades.  Those are four Colombians that we have been following and passing off and on for a few days.
IMG_0010 (1)
Jim’s last hill, he took this picture knowing that he was done.  Sandy sat on a guardrail around the corner and waited.  Jim sat down beside her and started crying, saying that the Camino is over.
We walked this beach to avoid going uphill over the low headland to the left.
Since this is our last hour of walking El Camino we decide to leave our Stone from Bill Boyle and our stones on this beach. This symbolizes leaving your burdens, problems and pain behind.


We are totally done with our 30 years spent at 87 Beacon Street in Boston. They were some of the best and some of the worst years of our lives. We have great memories of loving friends and will completely forget the toxic, self absorbed small minded xenophobes who now live there.
A beautiful place to leave our burdens and anxieties behind.
It’s been such a great walk with constantly changing panoramas and beautiful scenery. We have no regrets and know that we are making the right decision to end it.
San Vicente De La Barquera, our final destination on this Camino del Norte.


A medieval bridge across the estuary into town.
Camino del Norte, we will miss you.
This is where we would be headed uphill tomorrow were we able to continue.


Our final Camino Hotel, Faro de San Vicente.
A very sad and humbled pilgrim, but so thankful to have a perfect partner and soulmate for support.
After breakfast communications.
Leaving our hotel to meet a taxi to take us back to Santander.
Taxi from San Vicente to Santander was €81 on his meter which was the full charge even though he had to drive all the way back. We gave him €100. It was much faster and safer than the bus.
Jim booked a suite in this boutique waterfront hotel.


And so our El Camino de Santiago de Compostela saga ends. We made the halfway point in number of days but not miles. We have wonderful memories, have made some great friends and have no regrets. We are unsure of what the future holds regarding Jim’s health but will rely on the wisdom and expertise of his doctor’s at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Our plans are to fly to Barcelona tomorrow to spend some time with our stalkers, Andrew and Dick. If Jim’s doctor’s summon him home immediately we will go and if they say no rush we will head to Lisbon and Porto with A & D for a few weeks of touring.

Buen Camino and buen viaje.

20 responses to “Camino del Norte: from Santander to Santander or as Sandy calls it “Meano del Norte”.”

  1. […] from Bilbao to Santander. Jim began struggling and we had to abort the pilgrimage on October 3 in San Vicente de la Barquera when Jim just felt that he couldn’t go on due to exhaustion on the hills. We returned to […]

  2. Sandy and Jim, What a WONDERFUL recounting of your trip. Your photos are stunning, and they absolutely capture the essence and the beauty of the places you saw, and the steps you took. I would have loved to see what you would have seen on the Primitivo, where I have never been; but that may have to await your next journey (or mine). Do not mourn the unexpected ending. As you well know, the journey is far more important than the destination. Your journey was filled with wonder, humor, great food, companionship and love. It could not have been better. Take good care of yourselves. Buen Camino! Tom Connell

    1. Thanks Tom, we look forward to meeting up with you in person someday. You understand the beauty and significance of this pilgrimage. We treasure your comments.

  3. Dear Jim and Sandy, We so enjoyed meeting and journeying with you on the Camino, even if for only a few days. You both are delightful people, and your positive spirits buoyed us during our own travails. Again, we are glad that Jim listened to his body and didn’t soldier on. Really hope our paths will cross again someday. Xoxo Bonnie and David

    1. It was our pleasure meeting you guys. Will definitely try to meet up again someday.

  4. Bob and Gail MacAlpine Avatar
    Bob and Gail MacAlpine

    Although you are understandably disappointed that your pilgrimage was cut short, we are thankful that you made the right decision. Please consider a quiet rest in our home as part of your recuperation plans. We love you and continue to pray for you.

    Bob and Gail

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers. I am sure that we will be spending some time in your lovely restful home over the next few months.

  5. Jim and Sandy – You have given of yourselves to all of us and the world what most could never conceive of, let alone endure and experience. Thanks for your endurance and deliverance.
    All the love and admiration from Joe and Sandy.

    1. Thanks Joe and Sandy,
      We are truly living our dreams of an ideal life in spite of the realities of our aging bodies.

  6. Lynnette Alameddine Avatar
    Lynnette Alameddine

    Jim and Sandy,

    I thoroughly enjoyed your beautiful journey. Your photos and captions are amazing!
    I’m sorry that you have to end it but you need to take care of yourself, Jim.
    Have a safe flight home.
    P. S. In my opinion all animals are beautiful. I’m sure that you know which photo I’m referring to!😉

  7. Victoria S Kinnally Avatar
    Victoria S Kinnally

    I am sorry to hear you were not able to complete the Camino.
    Jim, I hope you find the source of your problem and it can be fixed.
    Sandy, it makes me happy that you have been so supportive.
    You guys are amazing and fearless and are an inspiration.
    Wishing you both all good things.

  8. Brother and Twin Sister,
    We can’t imagine your disappointment at having to cut this adventure short. But for sure you are doing the right thing. The memories, new friends, photos, and stories are all never-to-be-forgotten treasures that will continue to return warmth and joyous smiles for a very long time. We salute you and celebrate what you have accomplished. Fabulous job!!! We love you and look forward to hearing more first person accounts. We keep you in our prayers always-more so now as you seek healing.

    David & Lynn

    1. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We are positive people and will sort this out.

  9. Oh Jim and Sandy, we finally managed to get into your fabulous blog, prose and pictures – have heard about your decision to call it a ‘día’ from Peggy; WhatsApp seems to be out of order right now so hope you don’t mind us communicating this way. You have such great and realistic attitudes to life, you are wonderful people and friends. Fingers crossed and best wishes you get to go to lovely Lisboa and beyond! Sigi and Paul xx

    1. Jim’s phone was hacked and we had to reset it, losing the what’s app phone number which was a virtual eSIM. Have now retrieved it so should be back on WhatsApp soon.
      Thanks for your thoughts and love. We will get this thing sorted out.

  10. Congratulations on an extremely successful adventure! You accomplished so much and should be extremely proud! We enjoyed the blog, photos, descriptions, and stories. Let us know when you arrive back in the USA as we are excited to reconnect! (and hoping us former 87 Beaconers are not on your naughty list!) 🙂

    1. We would love to get together. Our home base will be Newport so should be easier. Will let you know when we get home.
      You are part of the happy times at 87.
      Going to see Dick and Andrew today.

  11. Beautiful post and photos – we are so sad this ended like this for you but we know you made the right choice. You are strong , positive and delightful people to be around and we hope we can do something together w you soon! Keep us posted how you’re doing! We are taking this week to explore parts of Colorado we haven’t seen before to celebrate our 23rd anniversary yesterday. The Aspen are gold and the sky blue – glorious ! Big hugs , Karen

    Sent from my iPhone

    1. We really missed you guys. You would have been able to finish without us.

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