Solitude, scenery, and seafood: The benefits and downsides of Camino del Norte

Isolated stretch of Camino del Norte trail with a view of the North Atlantic


There are numerous Camino routes throughout Europe, including Camino Francés, the most popular walk and the one featured in a favorite movie of ours, The Way.  So why, then, did we choose to walk one of the lesser known routes, Camino del Norte?

We had a particular vision for what we wanted in our Camino experience, and Dale did some serious homework to find the trail that most matched that vision:

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Camino del Norte guides, maps, and other resources


I experienced a great deal of anxiety while walking the Camino, and much of it was centered around getting lost.  A part of me feared that we would disappear into the wilderness of northern Spain, licking the peanut dust off our empty snack bags to survive.

Never mind that Camino del Norte is not that wild; I was neurotic about having the right resources during our journey.

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It began with a movie: Why we walked Camino del Norte


A signpost from Day One, pointing us in the right direction
The Way

In the fall of 2015, Dale and I hiked 425 miles of Camino del Norte, the northern-most branch of Camino de Santiago, a historic pilgrimage with starting points and routes all over Europe.   Continue reading “It began with a movie: Why we walked Camino del Norte”

Barcelona, Spain: Modernista works of art

An exploration of the most famous architecture in Barcelona

The original Stormtroopers? Statues on the rooftop of Gaudí’s Casa Milà that some say inspired the imagination of George Lucas (Source: Wikimedia Commons)


In our last post, I wrote about the inimitable Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and his masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia.  While this may be his most famous creation and one of the most visited sites in Barcelona, Gaudí and his modernista contemporaries have a whole slew of other works in and around the city that are also worth exploring.

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Barcelona, Spain: Gaudí and his Sagrada Familia

Barcelona’s bold Gaudi

The Sagrada Familia. Source: “Sagrada Familia 01” by Bernard Gagnon  (Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be a writer.  In elementary school, I wrote all the time, stories about my family and ghosts and about a talking cow name Betsy who had super powers and a knack for saving the world.  As I grew older, my desire to write didn’t lessen, but I developed something most people are familiar with–fear of failure, a death-knell to the creative spirit.  I abandoned the fantastical stories, instead joining the newspaper and writing articles about sporting events and the Homecoming Dance.  After high school, I gave up writing altogether, except for occasional attempts at a novel or a short story, all of which sputtered to a halt as soon as self-doubt entered the picture.  I had lost faith in my ability to create.

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Barcelona’s Roman roots and ruins

Funerary tombstone (Fifth century A.D.), most likely belonging to someone of importance in the church.


We love history, and we also dig seeing really old stuff; in Europe, there is no end to either.  Like all of the great cities we visited, Barcelona has a rich history stretching back thousands of years, and opportunities for exploration and learning were endless.  We especially enjoyed seeing the city’s Roman ruins, which seemed to be all over the place.

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Barcelona: Our introduction to the wonders of Spanish cuisine

Neither of us are foodies. That’s not saying we don’t love to eat–oh boy, do we love to eat.  But we can’t really tell you what makes a restaurant special beyond the fact that it has amazing food; we can’t tell you why a particular food trend is trendy, or exactly why Spanish cuisine is considered by many to be without equal.  But what we do know is that we had some of the best meals of our lives in Spain, and it all started in our first Spanish city, Barcelona.

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Barcelona, Spain: First impressions

A really cool statue in the Basilica of Our Lady of Mercy, a Baroque-style church built in the 1800’s.  You go, girl!

Of all the cities we visited in Europe, Barcelona was one of our favorites.  There are so many things to love about the city, including a rich culture and complex history, some of the most important architecture in the world, a fascinating Gothic Quarter, beautiful beaches, wonderful food, friendly people, and world-class shopping.

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Barcelona’s funky Christmas traditions: Caga Tío and the Caganer

Celebrity Caganers.  Yes, that is Darth Vader, along with a stormtrooper, V, and Superman, and yes, they are pooping.

So, a question: how often do you express gratitude for your bodily functions?

The Catalonians of Spain do so with such enthusiasm that they incorporate it into their holiday celebrations.

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Camino del Norte, el Fin (Part 2): Cathedral de Santiago and the gigantic Botafumeiro


November 6, 2015

Last day in Spain, continued:

After a wonderful tour of Finisterre and Muxía, we got back to Santiago just in time to attend the Friday night Pilgim’s Offering mass at the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, a service that honors the peregrinos arriving in Santiago.  The mass is held daily, but the Friday night service is special because the church brings out its gigantic Botafumeiro.

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