More than six months after I finished my Camino del Norte, it’s probably about time I finished writing about it. It’s taken a while—the year got away from me, somehow, and to be honest, I haven’t felt much like writing. Which is a pity, really, as I’ve been on soooo many adventures! Post-Camino and after a few days in Madrid, I spent some time in Brussels, doing job applications; then it was time for what is quickly becoming my annual huge party, and a trip to Ibiza. Next, I moved out and spent a month in Fribourg, Switzerland—an insanely beautiful place. A day after finishing there, I flew back in to Belgium, grabbed my stuff, and moved to Antwerp, where I’ve since been working in the diamond industry. Yes, the diamond industry, of all things. Unfortunately (and obviously!) I can’t write about that, but it’s been a ride. A somewhat short-lived one, mind you: I’m finishing up at the end of the month. It turns out that ultra-capitalism is really, really not my bag. In between all of that, I’ve also been doing trips, including hiking the Belgian coast from the Netherlands to France in two days (insane—don’t do that!), a trip to Amsterdam with friends, and a long long weekend to see friends in Copenhagen. And it won’t be long until the adventures truly recommence ;).
Day 22: Gijon (28km)
Day 22, and it was finally my last day. I was exhausted, blistered, so damned tanned it’s crazy, and feeling strong. Tired, though; that bears repeating. Ex post facto, I’m recalling my camino very fondly, despite the ridiculous amounts of pain and “another hill, are you fucking kidding me?!” it entailed. I’ve now hiked a swathe of the Spanish coast, a bit of the Italian and Portuguese coasts, all of Belgium’s—and so obviously, my new life ambition is to hike the entire way around Europe, in stages. I’m not even kidding. That’s my plan.
Anyhow, I woke up in our hostel outside Villaviciosa, and wandered into the communal kitchen for breakfast. The pirate king was there, calling out the Slovak and I for flirting (I’m allowed to say that now, as I’ve not spoken to him since—incidentally, what the hell is it with me lusting after hiking partners?). Then it was time for us to leave, with a lot of hugs, pirateyness, and treasure chests. Best pirate king ever.
El Tigre, the Slovak and I hit the road once more, as the start of our day would take us in the same direction. The Slovak was heading for the Camino Primitivo, whereas I was sticking with the el Norte; and El Tigre was undecided. Of course. We were trying to convince him to take the el Norte though, so that he didn’t actually, and completely literally, die.
After only a couple of kilometres, we reached the point where our paths were to divide. Luckily, El Tigre decided he would come with me, which on the one hand was the responsible choice, and on the other, straight-up FML. So we said our farewells, and headed onward.
The rest of my day was fairly insanely irritating, to be honest. While I was glad to not have tiger blood on my hands, I was getting pretty close to murdering him myself. He told me a lot of his bizarre theories about the world—which, for my sanity’s sake, I elected not to record—and I told him that all he needed was a donkey to be a character in Don Quixote. Somewhat fortuitously, he hadn’t read it.
There were a fairly respectable number of hills on the leg to Gijón, and not a lot happened. We bumped into a French guy doing some sort of schmoozing around a vacant barbecue, who needed directions; and after far too long, we found a café at the top of a hill. This was the point at which El Tigre told me he had 20 euro left for the remaining 350+km to Compostella. I cannot even tell you how much face-palming I was doing.
Finally, we had our first real sighting of Gijón:
After a bit of a scenic wander through the outskirts of the town (and many accusations from El Tigre that I didn’t know what I was doing and had gotten us lost, and another instance of me having to translate Spanish into English for him, because wait, who’s the Spaniard here?!), it was time. We’d reached my albergue for the evening—my feline friend was heading further onwards, in hopes of finding a park, or forest, or another cow paddock to sleep in—and it was time to set El Tigre free. Which I did. In fairly short order. Hey, I’m allowed.
Man did I have a glorious nap. There were no staff nor other guests at the hostel that night, and so I had the place to myself—it was very peaceful. As the day drew to a close, I headed into town to rustle up some dinner, only to find sunset like fire on the water. It reminded me of nothing so much as Cartagena in Colombia.
My plans of quality beach time the next day were foiled by some fairly grisly weather setting in, so I decided to head to Madrid. And al fin—my Camino was complete.