During my semester in Madrid, Spain I had the amazing opportunity to do a five-day bike trip of the Camino de Santiago in Galicia, Spain during my Spring break. This trip was made able through an enrichment grant from the Clare Marie Rogers Matthews Memorial Award. I completed the five day trip, which was over 245 kilometers, with a fellow St. Lawrence students who was abroad in Spain with me as well as a Spanish friend of ours. The Camino de Santiago is a route that begins in France and ends in Santiago de Compostela, Spain in the North West providence of Spain. The Camino has a long history beginning with Saint James who was the one to walk and create the path during the 8th century. Now, people from all over the world come to walk parts or the entire path for a variety of religious or personal reasons.
The three of us started our trip on the Northern coast in a small town called Luarca where we picked up our rental bikes, loaded our packs on the back, and began our journey. We had planned to camp in a tent we had brought for the majority of the nights, however the daily rain that is typical to Northern Spain landed us staying in monasteries and hostels that are only provided for the people doing the Camino de Santiago. In all of the monasteries and hostels we stayed in, which were very cheap-roughly six euros a night- we met other people doing the Camino for a variety of reasons. Due to the nature of the weather in the North combined with the dirt trail, most people were walking the Camino, however we chose biking as our mode of travel to allow us to experience more distance of the trail in our short time.
Each day on average we did about 50 kilometers, give or take. We started on the coast for our first two days, so we had amazing views of the ocean, which during the month of March was too cold to swim in. After our first two days the trail left the coast and became very mountainous, which meant a lot of uphill on our bikes! Each day and night we had the opportunity to eat lunch and dinner in different small rural towns along the trail, giving us the chance to try some local food! On our last day the sun was finally shinning as we rode into the city of Santiago de Compostela where we went to the center in front of the cathedral to get a ceremonious picture with our bikes and have a certificate signed verifying our completion of the Camino de Santiago!