NORTHERN SPAIN – Barcelona and Walking the Camino de Santiago

Whether you land in Madrid, fly into Barcelona, or walk across the French or Portuguese border, make sure you leave time to do more than just walk the Camino. I flew into Barcelona, a city with something for everyone.

A visit to Guell Park is a must. From parrots to Gaudi’s house to Romas dancing flamenco, it’s magical.

Whimsical Guell Park
One of the many Gaudi classics in L’Eixample neighborhood.
Popular Gothic Quarter with museums, shopping, and cooking classes.
I preferred El Raval Quarter, south of La Rambla Blvd, near L’Eixample.
You can see separatist political flags everywhere.
But the Roman ruins, hidden in a secluded alleyway, were a real find.

And at St. Philip Neri church, there are reminders of a civil war, less than 100 years ago.

Etched in stone in 1938 at the height of the Spanish Civil war, the bullet-scarred wall at Sant Filip Neri Church is a reminder of the 42 men, women, and children who were killed by Franco’s forces.
Artwork from Sant Filip Neri school children after they were attacked by Franco’s army.

Walking the Camino de Santiago Compostela

There are seven well-established routes of St James, otherwise known as the Camino de Santiago. The Camino de Santiago Francis is about 500 miles long, starting in the Pyrenes and going to Santiago Compostela. It’s a very personal journey. The best way to do it…is your own way.

Wayfinding signs to guide the pilgrim.
Not all paths leaving the Pyrenees are paved. The sharp shards on the trails dug into my boots and left me with blisters.
Part of the fun was the local color along the way.
But expect stormy weather.

And sunshine too, as I found in one of Hemingway’s old haunts.
The hike goes through cities – like Pamplona, where Hemmingway’s bulls run each July.

And there are many small villages with water along the way.
The final reward is the Pilgrim’s Mass with the swinging of the botafumerio in Santiago de Compostela.

Most people walk The Camino de Santiago Francis in a month, but you can break it up into several trips. That leaves you with a reason to return, to finish the hike and hear more stories from around the world.

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