Yesterday we flew from Madrid to Santiago and took a bus to Melide to join our friends, Laura and Tim. Last summer, Laura hiked with her sisters, almost 500 miles from the border of France on the Camino de Santiago, The Way of Saint James.

Every year thousands of pilgrims, or “peregrinos” in Spanish, set out from popular starting points across Europe, to make their way to Santiago de Compostela. Most travel by foot, a few by bicycle. For some it is a religious pilgrimage but many are hikers who walk the route for other reasons: travel, sport, or the challenge of weeks of walking in a foreign land. Also, many consider the experience a spiritual journey to remove themselves from the stresses of modern life or just a vacation adventure. 

Gary and I are excited to walk the last few days of the journey as peregrinos.

This won’t be at all like hiking the Appalachian Trail. You can get a pan de chocolate and a cappuccino To Go. Try finding that on the AT!

The first part is through shady forests of oaks and eucalyptus trees.

There are purple fox gloves and calla lilies everywhere.

It’s so hard to choose a few photos. It’s beautiful everywhere! Notice we aren’t wearing huge backpacks– that’s beautiful! We don’t have to carry much at all because we walk through villages frequently. We will stay the nights in “albergues.” Some albergues are hostels with bunks but each accommodations is different. We have reservations for private rooms with baths. For 3 Euros, we have arranged for our luggage to be transferred along the way. 

We hadn’t even walked a few kilometers when we come to a small fruit stand. 

Fresh peaches, raspberries– see the cup in Gary’s hand? A small coffee for about 50 cents.

Laura is a great tour guide and I have questions about everything. 

The local people use these as decorations on their houses.

This cafe has a large one. Laura told me this area is farmland and these were used as corn cribs to dry corn for animal feed.

We saw old corn cribs on farms as well that must have been used in past years.

The guide book says this boulder bridge over the River Iso dates back to medieval times.

This was interesting. A little stream filled the reservoir and the water circulated out the other side. It looks like a hot tub but we speculated it was used for washing laundry. The slanted sides would be perfect for scrubbing clothing.  

We walked from Melide to Arzua, 14 kilometers, about 8 miles. The day was such a mix of ancient and modern, forest, field and farm, village, and the town of Arzua. I heard many different languages spoken by the peregrinos. I learned to smile and say “Buon Comino,” which literally means “good path,” but mostly, “good luck and happy travelling”.  

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