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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.
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.

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