I often get asked what is the difference between the Camino Francés and the Camino del Norte. They are both the Camino de Santiago, right? Yes, and while they both have the exciting aspects of walking the pilgrimage, as for much of the routes, it’s like night and day. Often, on the Camino del Norte, there are long stretches without seeing another pilgrim, long stretches without a water fountain or source, longs stretches without an albergue or pilgrim hostel, and relentless climbing and descending on many days. There is much more actual hiking than on the Camino Francés. It’s definitely more challenging, especially if you actually walk the Camino del Norte and not take some of the easier “modern” routes. In summary, the Camino Francés is more like a walk in the park compared to the Camino del Norte (please don’t take offence).

I left my last post, On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Irún Albergue to Guadalupe, here at the Santuario de Guadalupe, just as the skies began to clear. Now let’s continue and I will show you what I mean about the difference in tracks between the Camino Francés and the Camino del Norte.

church guadalupe basque country Euskadi spain camino del norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Guadalupe to Pasajes de San Juan

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If you’re walking through the Basque city of Irún, you may notice a more modern look compared with many other Spanish cities of similar size. Ancient sites are scarce and not much seems to date earlier than the mid-20th century. Why is that?

During the early days of the Spanish Civil War, Irún was important due to its location on the border with France. Weapons destined for Republican strongholds, especially in the Basque region, would enter from France, by road or carried along trails through the hills. To stop this flow of weapons, General Francisco Franco’s Nationalist Army planned to take over the city in what would be later known as The Battle of Irún. On August 11, 1936, the Nationalist Army began a bombardment of the city, first from sea, and soon after, by air and ground. Although the Republican Army outnumbered the Nationalist Army, they couldn’t come close to the firepower. Added to that, the French had closed the border on September 8, causing a shortage of weapons and ammunition.

The battle lasted until September 5 when the remaining Republican Army retreated while burning any remaining building that they thought would aid the Nationalist Army. This destruction of a Basque city by Franco was by no means an isolated incident. If you’re walking the Camino del Norte, you will soon arrive at another important and rather sad reminder of the complete destruction of what I understand was a beautiful Spanish city. This is Guernica, a few days of walking from here.

I left my last post, Starting the Camino Del Norte, Hendaye to the Irún Albergue, at the albergue, located two to three blocks off the main road that the Camino follows in Irún. Now, let’s walk back up to the Fuenterrabia Kalea and continue our journey.

Alberque 4 Irun Spain Camino del Norte On the Camino Del Norte in Spain, Irún Albergue to Guadalupe

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One of my favorite places to visit in the Vancouver, British Columbia area is the Reifel Bird Sanctuary. I try to get out there at least a couple of times every year for a relaxing walk in nature.  There are numerous trails to explore that wind through different areas of the 300-hectare (740-acre) property famous for its resident ducks, many songbirds, Sandhill Cranes, and Bald Eagles. Another important visitor is the Lesser Snow Goose which can be seen in the adjacent and nearby fields numbering in the hundreds or even thousands. There is nothing like seeing an entire field covered in a sea of white from these geese.

The sun was out and the temperature was cool on this late November day . It was perfect for some fresh air and exercise. After visiting ducks, ducks, and more ducks near the entrance — along with a few chickadees and sparrows — my walking partner and I made our way to the far reaches of the sanctuary that is accessible by us non-bird folk. Here, in the open waters away from the trees, near the marshes and the sea, we were able to witness something I hadn’t seen for a long, long time. I will ask you, dear visitor to Camino My Way, have you ever seen…


 Ducks On Ice!

ducks ice 4 Reifel bird sanctuary Ducks on Ice! An Afternoon of Reflection, Reifel Bird Sanctuary

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Just an hour late in both the morning and evening. That’s all I was from a stunning reflection on Garibaldi Lake. As you can tell, I had beautiful weather and felt very fortunate when I visited on a late summer’s day. I had hiked to the lake during the same time in other years and experienced cold and even snow.

I never set off to photograph only the reflections on Garibaldi Lake, in Garibaldi Provincial Park, near Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. My goal for the day was the summit of Mount Price overlooking the lake on the west side. At about 32 kilometers return and 1,700 meters in elevation gain, it was an arduous task for someone so out of shape (yes, that was me icon smile A Day of Minor Reflections, Garibaldi Lake ). I ventured out anyway and after about two hours of hiking, arrived here. This is beautiful Garibaldi Lake.

Garibaldi lake reflection whistler bc 1 A Day of Minor Reflections, Garibaldi Lake

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The most surprising aspect about visiting the last home of Leonardo da Vinci, Château du Clos Lucé, at Amboise in the Loire Valley of central France, may not be the château itself, but the amazing, and very scenic park, Parc Leonardo Da Vinci. At times, it was peaceful and serene as I enjoyed an evening walk on a beautiful summer’s day. I didn’t know about the vastness of the park, and how well-presented and fun it would be. Not only can you walk the paths, enjoy the greenness and flowers, you can try and participate in the inventions of the great Leonardo.

On my last post, Finding Leonardo Da Vinci, My Visit to Château du Clos Lucé, I took you in and around Château du Clos itself. Now, let’s go for a walk around Parc Leonardo da Vinci. First, let’s look back at the Château itself. I really like this view.

1 park Château du Clos Lucé Amboise France An Afternoon at Parc Leonardo da Vinci, Château du Clos Lucé

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Before I left home for the Camino de Santiago, I chose a small stone from a beach in Vancouver, Canada. I carried the stone to England, France, and across Spain to Finisterre, Galicia. On the famed beach, Praia do Mar de Fora, I gently tossed the stone from the Pacific Ocean into the Atlantic. Then, I picked up a small stone from that very spot on Praia do Mar de Fora and carried it home. I tossed it into the Pacific off the same beach where picked up the first one. All this was to honor my recently departed mother who would have been thrilled to know that I walked across Spain on the Camino de Santiago.

I left my last post, Visiting The End of the World at Cabo Fisterra, Monte Facho, with this view of the famed western beach, Praia do Mar de Fora from the summit of Monte Facho. This was a beautiful spot to sit, relax, and take in the vistas. If you have time, I really recommend making the short climb up Monte Facho. It’s well-worth the effort!

Praia do Mar de Fora Finisterre fisterra Spain Visiting Cabo Fisterra, Monte Facho and Praia do Mar de Fora

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