Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Heading West

I much prefer the train to the bus and the little, narrow-gauge train I am on, chugs along, designed as a local route to haul workers and minerals. It is a wonderful way to see the countryside as the train often goes through areas with no roads. My feet are happy for the rest of the many hours long ride as they are sore and one has a blister the size of my thumb from hours pounding the pavement scouting out the health food stores and sites of my destinations.
The woman at the Bilbao Post office thought I was a pilgrim on the road to Santiago as I was donned with my double-pack look, one on the front and the other on my back. I let her believe this as I am on my way to Santiago and it will take me two days to reach it, and then will do my own walking pilgrimage at the end of the world, in Fisterra. In her brief kindness I caught a glimpse of the camaraderie, solidarity (a word the Spaniards love and use a lot), and compassion that camino travelers encounter all the time.

The train I am on follows various camino routes. This is mountainous terrain (I am told that Spain is second only to Switzerland in most mountainous country in Europe) and I am most grateful to not be on a bus, which even if you are not prone to car-sickness, can make you woozy as they twist and turn around the sometimes hairpin curves of the mountain roads.
The train snakes its way through the Picos de Europa mountains, farmland, forests, with tiny glimpses of the ocean. Makes you feel as though you could be walking or biking through the bucolic setting.

So I am on the regional FEVE trains making my way from Bilbao west to Santander, through the regions of Cantabrias and Asturias, referred to as the "green" coast because it is so lush, with my final destination in the region of Galicia in northwestern most Spain.

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