Today was the culmination of five years of wishing to go back to Spain and walk yet another Camino. This makes four arrivals in Santiago de Compostela and six different caminos.
The Camino Olvidado from Bilbao to Ponferrada is about 525km. That’s just trail walking. Daily walking to/from the bar can be up to 10km per day more, but is usually about 5km. The Camino de Invierno is 266km from Ponferrada to Santiago. That makes both routes a minimum of 791km. 791km in 30 days by foot is an accomplishment.
I was asked recently: why did people walk through the mountains for the Camino Olvidado? It’s simple really and has a lot to do with history and war. The Iberian peninsula was occupied by the Moors for many centuries (from 711ce through 1492ce). Because the remains of Saint James were discovered in the 8thC and reburied in the cathedral in Santiago in 847, during the Moore occupation, pilgrims to the tomb could not safely make their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela via the plains just south of the Cantabria mountain range. So the original routes were through the mountains – being the Camino Olvidado, Primitivo and Norte. During the winter, the Primitivo and the Olvidado were dangerous to travel due to the high mountains and bad￼ weather – so the Camino de Invierno was taken during the winter, even though it posed dangers and risks by the Moors. There is much more history regarding the Moors, Santiago and the Caminos, and I recommend researching it online if you’re interested.
One tidbit of information: since the Arabs/Moors occupied Spain until 1492, there are many, many cultural influences in Spain from the Moors during this time. And of course, since Columbus sailed from the Iberian peninsula and the conquistadors brought over their culture to the Americas. Latin America has many, many Arab/Moor cultural traits. And since, much of the southern United States was owned/occupied/conquered by Spain/Mexico, we too have cultural, societal and language ancestral Arab/Moor roots. It’s a small world.
Back to the Camino…
Today was short and sweet. 21km from Ponte Ulla to Santiago – and then another 2-3km wandering around and to the hotel. We’re at 25km for the day and will probably add a few more.
I have entered Santiago from the east and the southwest. Both are many km of suburbs and development. Not really enjoyable. Today I was prepared for something similar but alas, I was treated to 19km of farmlands, rolling country side and forests. Only the last 2-3km were in the city and part of that was through pedestrian walkways. So this was a really nice surprise.
We got to the Cathedral around 12:30 – took some pictures and headed for the hotel. Tomorrow we will wander around and get our compotelas.
The walking portion of the camino is over. Now the real Camino begins. There is a saying: Your Camino starts when you reach Santiago. This has been true for the last three caminos. And I’m sure it will hold true for me this one too.
My current take away: there will be another Camino in my future. Perhaps on bike next time. I won’t know what it will be until I start on it.
Thanks for tuning in and for your comments. Buen Camino!!!