I am standing at the side of the road in Bilbao, holding up a sign saying SANTANDER. A few people stride past me in expensive outdoor hiking gear (they are German!) and I think to myself, “fuck it, I will walk the 100km to Santander!” And that’s how I found myself walking 120km of the Camino de Santiago del norte (northern route). The Camino is one of the most famous “hikes” in the world. (The word “hike” should be used loosely when describing the Camino. It’s mostly a long walk on tarmac). People gush with excitement when they talk about their memories of this route, so it seems almost sinful to say anything derogatory about it. But I will.
I hitch the channel once again with Peter, my regular lorry-driving saint. I am migrating south for the winter and am feeling more excited than usual: I am not doing my usual route through what my friend Arjun describes as the Ordnung countries, where everything and everyone has to fit into boxes within society (Germany, Austria, Denmark…)
I meet my friend, Conor, in France. He is on week-one of an overland adventure to Japan. Together we travel to beautiful Ardeche and visit Françoise, my travel-buddy in Turkey last year.