Stage 11 – Güemes to Santander

13ish miles walking today, plus a few more by boat. Ate my first octopus of this trip, too! And made it to Mass, so an exceptionally wonderful day.

We woke in Güemes to a bit of rain, which continued off and on for much of the morning. When the sun was out, it made for beautiful lighting and even made a rainbow!  Breakfast was provided: coffee, tea, bread and jam, cereal (most of us thought it was chocolate-filled crunchy pastries, but the Spanish showed us the ‘real’ way to eat it), and warm milk. Not just lukewarm; the milk was actually steaming when they brought it to us.

Having full bellies, we set off as a group of 6 towards Santander. Not knowing the way we should go (there were 3 options, 2km difference between each), we just followed the arrows and ended up on the beach (long) path.

Beautiful! But a bit hard on the feet at times, and quite slippery from the earlier rain. Plus a point where extra paths had been created to avoid major puddles. I worried that I would get lost, so I tried very hard to keep Eduardo in sight. Luckily he is tall, carries an umbrella sticking out of his pack, and stopped a bunch to take pictures. So, easier than I expected to m or get lost, but still quite an adventure!

By the time we reached the end of that beach, Tash and Vittorio were far ahead and we hadn’t seen Petra and Niko in many hours, so Eduardo and I set off across the next beach, keeping an eye out for where we needed to turn inland to catch the boat.

We didn’t exactly take the ‘official Camino’ because we were told it was more inland and boring. We followed signs to near the sea and the guidebook (plus the albergue workers last night) said to just follow the beaches. There were a couple of arrows at major intersections, but we still needed to ask where the boat to Santander was. Now that was the Camino way. Apparently pilgrims have been taking the boat for many years.

We only had to wait about 15 minutes for the boat, and who should appear as it was making its way back? Daniel and Martin, the Frenchmen from Markina and Gernika! They were only going as far as Santander and I was hoping to see them again before they were done. We hadn’t seen them in many days, however, so I was afraid we had missed them. Yay for chance encounters on random boats in Spain!

We did say goodbye at the dock and then Eduardo, Vittorio, and I found a place with a 3 course Menú del Día. First course for me was a salad with octopus! Yummy! Then I took the advice of the locals and got the fish, followed by some kind of pudding with a biscuit (cookie). Delicious!

Our albergue was not far away and we passed right by the cathedral and saw that Mass was at 6pm. Enough time to check in, unpack, shower and do laundry, and braid Petra’s hair. She and I went to Mass, then met the others for 1€ tapas and drinks. Again, yummy. A toasted roll with goat cheese, crunchy onions, and some kind of mustard sauce. And a glass of their ‘summer wine,’ which was basically a light, sparkling red.

Turns out that while we were at Mass, the others ran into Fernando as he was heading home on the bus, finished with the Camino for this year. Niko also left today, though his bus was before I arrived in the city. And Eduardo leaves tomorrow morning, as well, leaving us with no native Spanish speakers! And only 4 pilgrims that we know, as others have gone on ahead or stayed places for a rest day. I am sure we will start to meet more as we head along the coast. Perhaps others who are starting here in Santander and doing the next stage at this time. We shall see.  Such is part of the Camino life.

Albergue: 10€
Lunch: 12€
Dinner: 2€
Boat: 2.7€

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