Cloister in Los Arcos on the Camino de Santiago

Cloister in Los Arcos on the Camino de Santiago

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Always begin at the end

I am not sure when it all started or how I first tripped over the Camino de Santiago.

I began researching the Camino around 1995. I borrowed some books from Michael O'Reilly the genial founder of Windsor Motors. Michael had walked the Camino perhaps ten times.. I thought I might walk the camino in March 1996. With very little research I wandered into the Joe Walsh Travel shop on Baggot Street one lunchtime in early January with a view to booking my passage.

The attractive young woman behind the desk was knowledgeable and widely travelled. She pointed out that it could be snowing in the north of Spain in March. 'Where could I go in Europe that was sunny?' I wondered. She pointed out that the Canaries were the only part of Europe that had guaranteed sunshine - mainly because the Canaries were not in Europe. While politically they formed part of Spain and therefore Europe, geographically they were just off Morocco although not part of the African subcontinent.

'But where in the Canaries?' I asked. She recommended Tenerife - she had stayed the previous year in a lovely complex called Parque Santiago in the popular resort of Las Americas in the south of Tenerife. That evening after a game of squash with Ian I produced the brochure and we there and then decided we would travel to Parque Santiago for two weeks commencing around March 17th.

Our flight was delayed leaving Dublin so we stayed in the bar drinking Guinness and watching a boxing match - it may even have been Barry McGuigan. We arrived in Tenerife about 4.00 am in the morning and got to our hotel around 6.00 am just as the sun was rising. Too excited to go to bed we jumped straight into the swimming pool you see in the picture above. And so started a love affair with Tenerife that has grown more passionate with every year that passes.

Eight years after my first visit to Tenerife Lorraine and I bought a studio apartment in Parque Santiago IV next door to Parque Santiago III where Ian and I had spent two weeks in 1996 armed with squash rackets. Amazingly it was to take a further few years before the coincidence dawned on me.

The emblem for Parque Santiago is not unsurprisingly the scallop shell. The scallop adorns the walls and the promotional literature. Between Blocks III and IV there is a statue to St Iago - Santiago. The builder developer and majority owner of the two complexes is Don Emilio from Santiago de Compostela.

My attempt to travel to 'grande' Santiago in Spain resulted in my travelling to and buying an apartment in 'small' Santiago in Tenerife. I don't believe in coincidences anymore! In 2006 I travelled with a friend to Spain to attempt to walk for a week along the real Camino. We walked for a week from Pamplona towards Logrono and beyond. In 2008 I travelled to Santiago to Compostela and spent some time walking the Finisterre Route with my cousin who coincidentally had been doing the Camino around the same time abd loacation in 2006!

Next year I hope to do justice to the Northern Route which was the original route. It skirts the lovely Northern Coast of Spain. Hopefully this blog is the first step in my travelling there!

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