In 2015 my husband became unwell, prompting him to retire early for a period of time in order to make memories as a family. We took our children out of school for 7 weeks and travelled through Europe exploring the world and making priceless memories with our two youngest daughters. My husband is doing okay now and we don’t regret for a moment the financial sacrifice we made to do this – money can be replaced but memories and time together cannot. This post is one written in 2015 capturing that adventure and has been posted unchanged and unamended.
The Rain In Spain Falls Mainly On The – hearts of all the long distance bus drivers!
Okay so this really wasn’t the highlight of our trip that we thought it would be – in fact it was kind of horrific really. In my head I had envisaged this whole awakened feeling of joy seeing the places that people visit on the Camino de Santiago…really got to stop building expectations before the actual event I think. We caught a high speed train from Montparnasse to Irun on the border of France and Spain, and from there we caught a taxi (after much difficulty trying to find one) to the hotel in San Sebastian. Now if we had just stayed in the hotel we would have been absolutely fine because it was super comfortable, beautiful breakfasts, wonderful attentive service…but we decided to explore San Sebastian instead.
San Sebastian is a beautiful backdrop of old buildings and cobble-type streets, mixed with churches, hillsides, beaches and old boating docks. Its very picturesque and worthy of the postcards you by at the touristy stops along the way.
Along the beaches is like a concrete walkway that was under the higher walkway kind of like a tunnel, that had archways along the front – bit hard to explain really. Although the day started out as rainy and miserable, it became quite sunny and warm and it wouldn’t be strange to think it was a bit like Melbourne weather. We enjoyed a lovely walk along the beach and thought it might be nice to go for a swim seeing all the English folk enjoying the water so we went to the waters edge and enjoyed the moment of frostbite as our toes felt the icy waves coming in. No I don’t think we will swim thankyou…
We did love the idea of tapas they have there and after seeing the beautiful church there, we went off in search of a lovely tapas bar to eat at – the spreads put on were beautiful and the social vibes were funky. Sadly though we did not get to enjoy this with most of it being all local seafood and cured meats, so we opted for a lovely little restaurant or two for our meals in San Sebastian. Did I mention that breakfast often was sweets here? The girls thought this was completely awesome! I was craving my raw spinach and vegetables.
After two nights we boarded the bus for Santiago de Compostela. That is when our real nightmare began. The trip we had thought was going to be a nine hour bus trip and we were well planned for that with snacks, water, and activities. It wasn’t til about four hours in that we realised that there may be no stops for meals, and we also found out that it was going to be a twelve hour trip. We tried to ask if we could duck out to a vending machine at one of the stops whilst they loaded up the suitcases but the bus driver stood in the walkway with hands in our face saying no very loudly and rudely. Despite us trying to explain (in Spanish we had translated by a friend) that we had no food for our children because the ticket did not state there would be no stops, the bus drivers still refused to let us off to get food for our kids. It was at this stage that I lost the plot and began crying…the feeling as a mother of not being able to provide food for your child when they are already distressed is a terribly helpless feeling and although it is definitely not the same, I now have a renewed empathy for mothers struggling to feed their children in refugee camps and third world countries. Finally an Aussie (at one of the stops and not even on our bus), saw our distressed and told us to get off now and the bus will come back for us. I cried with sheer relief, and let me tell you I could have kissed the ground when we finally arrived in Santiago.
The accommodation in Santiago was basic, but modern, comfortable, and the service was exceptional. We visited the church and enjoyed the energy of all the pilgrims that had arrived to end their long journey. We met lots of Aussies that had just finished it and they gave tips for our teenager who now wants to do the Camino – that would be the only reason for returning to Spain at this point. The church was beautiful and I wondered for just a moment how a simple building could bring up so many emotions for me when I realised it wasn’t the grandeur of the building, but the grandeur of the millions of tears and prayers that had taken place over many years in this place.
We left Spain much to our excitement and flew to Switzerland – by far my favourite place so far for its beauty….but as always thats for another time…
Have you got a horror story from one of your holidays? Share with me your story.