We Get Lost in Santiago de Compostela

This northern coast of Spain has been quite an adventure! We took a couple of days to cross it, and the scenery is amazing – mountains coming down to the ocean all across the entire width of Spain. We would drive a hundred miles, or maybe a couple of hundred if the roads were good, and pull in at one of the local campgrounds as it got late.

Our campsite at St Jean de Luz, backed up to the hedge. That's the ocean out there.

Our last stop in France before we crossed the border was St Jean de Luz, a beach town with a reputation for hanging out and relaxing. We we aiming for the municipal aire du camping and went as far as we could go down the narrow oceanfront roads before pulling in at a commercial campground, which was drumming up business by posting official-looking signs saying the road was closed to vehicular traffic. It worked – they got our money. But it was only twenty euros, and we could hear the waves from our campsite all night, along with the reggae music from the campground bar, which mercifully closed around midnight.

Oak tree at our Basque campground.

On across the border and into Spain the next morning on very winding and narrow roads, we got about a hundred miles and stopped at a very Basque place near Guernica, the town famous for the bombing during the Spanish Civil War. It was a cliffside campground overlooking the ocean full of locals who spend the summer there, with a few spots for transients like us. We strolled around, listened to the wonderful Basque singing as the sun went down, and found the campground's jai alai court, a tiny one built for the kids.

The beautiful stream and beach at Colunga.

The next day we went into Guernica. There was nothing to see, really – the museum was closed, and they had the whole town blocked off for some kind of athletic event, most of which consisted of groups of people jogging along in color-coordinated shirts. We searched in vain for a parking spot, didn't find one, and contented ourselves with a driving tour. Headed further west, the road improved considerably – E70 is a beautiful highway with many viaducts and tunnels to deal with the terrain, and it's also toll free, which made me happy. Our second campground was at Colunga, this time down on the beach, and we found a fairly large collection of Brits and Belgians, who were very interested in our Roadtrek.  A beautiful mountain stream went through the campground and out into the ocean.

Alameda Park, where I dropped Sharon off and chewed my nails waiting for her to return.

On again the next morning, climbing up a couple of thousand feet as we went inland toward Santiago do Compostela, the end of the famous pilgrimage road across Europe that we had been encountering frequently in our travels, Sharon was determined to complete her pilgrimage, so we set the GPS for the center of town. We found a big church with a park in front of it (and no place to park, of course), so I dropped her off with an agreement that I would circle around and pick her up in 30 minutes. My circling was much more difficult that I anticipated, complicated by the fact that we'd picked the wrong church – the cathedral was actually a half mile away from where I dropped her off. I finally figured out where I had dropped her off after some harrowing driving along pedestrian-only roads, got back about an hour later, and no Sharon. I parked in a blatantly illegal fashion, and waited an hour – still no Sharon. I talked to some police nearby, who suggested I go to the police station a block away (where they mercifully allowed me to park) and see if we could locate her.

 

Sharon made it to the cathedral, and has the photos to prove it. She just didn't know her way back.

They sell these souvenir canes – after an hour of three of walking, Sharon found it came in handy. She isn't in this photo, she's in bed recuperating.

We have no phone which works in Europe- Sharon had headed out with just ten euros and a camera, no ID, no communication equipment. She had figured out that she wasn't in the right place, and had marched off, intent of finding the cathedral, which she did, and promptly got lost trying to get back to the pickup place. Luckily she encountered a helpful couple, Antonio and Gabriela, who sent me an email advising me of her location, the police brought her to the station where I was, and we had a happy reunion.  After an anxious four hours we were all back in the Roadtrek headed for a local campground. The people of Santiago de Compostela, citizens and police, were very kind and helped us overcome our little difficulty. Sharon, of course, insists that I was the one who was lost, since I dropped her off at the wrong place, while I thought she was the one who was lost. Fiona the Fearless Kitty thinks we're both lost – she slept through all of this.  Fortunately, it doesn't really matter. I was truly amazed that I had negotiated the narrow roads in the center of Santiago de Compostela in our Roadtrek with inches to spare on each side – these Sprinters are made for Europe. I was also very happy to get my beautiful bride back. She's a keeper.