Camino Francés 2015

Day 4: Switching Caminos

July 1, 2015
Country road through green hills.

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” –Rumi

Hello and happy July!

I decided to do a quick check-in to let you know where I am and that all is well, although there has been a major shift, which may surprise some of you and others, not at all.

The last time I posted, I had finished Day 9 on the Camino del Norte, after having walked from Pobeña to Castro-Urdiales. Here’s what happened next…

By the time I reached Castro, I knew the time had come to follow the longing in my heart, something I had been grappling with since starting the Camino del Norte. Every day on the Norte I thought, “Tomorrow it will be better,” but the love affair I had with the Francés from day 1 last year simply had not kicked in after 9 days. For some reason, to me it felt like more like a thru-hike than a pilgrimage. 

So, shortly after arriving in the beach resort city of Castro-Urdiales, I found myself saying goodbye to Jean and Patty, with whom I had been walking that day, then catching a bus to Bilbao, where I caught another bus to San Sebastián. On the way, I emailed a message to Orisson asking if there were any possibility of reserving a bed for the following night. 

At the San Sebastián bus station, I called Istvan from Corazon Puro to see if I could stay there that night and if he could pick me up in an hour and a half from the Pamplona bus station. He and Barbara later told me that because they had a really rough morning, they had decided not to take any pilgrims in that night. Barbara told me she couldn’t believe it when she overheard Istvan saying, “Okay, I will pick you up at 3:30.”

Friends, more amazing still was that I heard back from Orisson two hours after sending the email and they were willing to reserve a space for me for the following night! Those of you who have booked with Orisson will be as shocked as I, I’m sure, to hear about the quick response time!  

Barbara and Istvan from Corazon Puro

So Istvan and Barbara picked me up, I spent the night with them, then began my walk from St. Jean for the second time. Although it is completely different than last year, when I walked the Camino for the first time, it’s been amazing it its own way.  

Highlights (the details of which I’ll post in September) since returning to the Francés have included: 

  • A lovely three hour dinner with Barbara and Istvan.
  • A shepherd guiding me through the heavy fog to see the Virgin of the Pyrenees.
  • Meeting Neill and Catherine at the Abbey; Neill and I have been following each other’s journeys for some time on Facebook so it was fun to actually meet in person and see their beautiful project.
  • Meeting Eladio, who has been reading my blog for some time now and who frequently provides wonderful information about the things about which I am posting. He and his daughter took me on a wonderful excursion in the mountains near Pamplona where they live.
  • Being recognized as the Sometimes She Travels blogger twice; once at Roncesvalles and once at the Abbey.
  • Taking a guided tour of Roncesvalles.


Kind shepherd in the Pyrenees


Neill and Catherine at The Abbey


Hanging out with Eladio!

While the Camino del Norte was very beautiful and had much to offer, my heart was still, for some reason, on the Camino Francés. It would seem that I have some unfinished business here. 

The extreme heat wave in Europe has made it extremely challenging in a whole new way. It’s 97 degrees right now at 6pm and when I left the albergue in Zubiri this morning at 6:30, it was already very warm; about 75 degrees. 

But perhaps this is the universe doing for me what I wouldn’t choose to do for myself on my own; it’s forced me to slow down and do much shorter days than I did last year. 

Anyhow, today is Day Four on the Camino Francés, round 2. I am going to sign off for now to attend the mass at the tiny church where I am staying the night. 

Buen Camino everyone, wherever your path may be taking you!

Xo, Elissa

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  • Ingrid July 1, 2015 at 13:56

    We follow the heart, always. The Camino Frances has it’s undeniable pull and magic. I am happy for you. As I am doing last minute things, just to keep busy, it is almost time to head to the airport. Tomorrow, I will land in Lisboa and see my very good friends Jose and Natercia. July 7, I will start walking from Porto.

    I too will know soon IF I need to go back to the CF. I too have unfinished things there… but for now, my heart is routed closer to Galicia, and who knows… our paths might cross in August. Buen Camino Ultreia.

    • Sometimes She Travels July 2, 2015 at 12:37

      I definitely work on staying true to my heart but it doesn’t yet always come naturally to do so. I’m excited for you; what a wonderful adventure you have in store. I would love it if our paths were to cross over here. Buen Camino!

  • Kathleen July 1, 2015 at 14:23

    Buen Camino Elissa! I can’t say that I am surprised that you’ve found your way back to the camino frances. I hope you continue to have a wonderful camino experience.

  • David Yount July 1, 2015 at 15:28

    Dear Elissa, I am glad you listened to your inner voice, and are taking care of yourself. Sending you love, and best wishes for a continued safe and rewarding Camino Frances. Will look forward to your telling of the entire tale in its time. David

    • Sometimes She Travels July 2, 2015 at 12:41

      Thank you David. I so appreciate your support, on and off the Camino and am grateful for our friendship. E

  • Mike July 1, 2015 at 17:10

    There is something about the Camino Francis that holds my heart, I have no interest in the other routes other than a mild curiosity. I look forward to returning next June for an extended visit of six weeks, maybe more.

    I look forward to your renewed journey.

    • Sometimes She Travels July 2, 2015 at 12:42

      That’s interesting to hear, Mike, and I know there are many who feel the same. Six weeks sounds great.

  • Holly July 1, 2015 at 23:36

    This is exciting and fascinating news! I’m so happy for you to be following your inner voice and it sounds like every this falling into place so well. I’m surprised you went all the way back to St. Jean and not somewhere closer to where you were on the Norte but it sounds like you want to do the entire Frances experience. I’m happy to get to read your new adventure on the Frances! Buen Camino!

    • Sometimes She Travels July 2, 2015 at 12:49

      I thought about heading somewhere closer to where I was, Holly, but there were a few reasons I chose to return to St Jean, not the least of which was that I met some of my closest Camino friends last year at Orisson. But also, I absolutely love the mountain views between St J and Roncesvalles; they blow my mind! It took only a few hours to get from Castro to Corazon Puro and I also had the option of going through Bayonne (but couldn’t bear the thought of the unknown at that point; one of these days I will write a post about how difficult experiencing the unknown can be for me, lol). Thanks so much for reading, Holly, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your comments!

  • Bonnie July 2, 2015 at 03:35

    Hi Elissa,

    Wonderful, I guess that you were truly meant to be doing the Camino Frances! Happy for you!!! Buen Camino and go with the Flow!

    All my best,


    • Sometimes She Travels July 2, 2015 at 12:52

      Hi Bonnie, Thanks so much! I am so happy to be back on the Francés. The views today between Cizur Menor and Zariquiegui made my heart sing!

  • Donald Bowes July 2, 2015 at 07:29

    What a joyous reunion! Blessings on your walk over familiar paths. I’ll be in Leon in 58 days. Can’t wait.

    • Sometimes She Travels July 2, 2015 at 12:53

      Donald, that is going to fly by! León is my favorite city on the Camino!

  • Jen Hofmann July 2, 2015 at 08:33

    Love to you, Elissa, from my writing retreat at the coast to your journey across Espana! Buen Camino!

    • Sometimes She Travels July 3, 2015 at 09:39

      Thanks Jen and back at you. It sounds like you have accomplished a great deal on your book! By the way, I have run into at least one person every day who is walking the Camino “backward”. I thought you might find that interesting.

  • Beth Foote July 2, 2015 at 08:35

    Good for you for following your heart and heading to SJPP! And what grace you found because of it! My dream is to start again and, like you, go slowly, and explore more fully that opening chapter of the Camino! Blessings!

  • billie greene July 2, 2015 at 14:10

    ohhhh, I’m so happy you followed your heart! One can never go astray by doing so. If you think back on you life, you’ve always had a strong inner voice, which never seems to let you down. I read, recently, that the treasure that the traveler/pilgrim comes home with is a new perspective. Am looking forward to hearing about your treasures, upon your return…, mom

    • Sometimes She Travels July 11, 2015 at 08:24

      Thanks Mom! As you know from our phone conversation, it’s been eye-opening to say the least.

      I hope you are enjoying the summer and all the wonderful heat in the NW! Love, E

  • Cathy Anderson July 4, 2015 at 08:20

    What a wonderful story of the outcome of “Following your heart”! I am looking forward to the Camino and learning to overcome the fear of the unknown in following my heart! Thankyou for your post!

    • Sometimes She Travels July 11, 2015 at 08:18

      Thank you for your sweet comment, Cathy!! It’s been a completely different journey than I ever could have imagined!

  • Elle Bieling July 9, 2015 at 09:26

    Oh my, I just caught up with you. I am disappointed, only for myself, as I am doing the Primitivo in about 6 weeks. I am ecstatic for you, that your are following your heart. Yes, indeed, it does seem like you have unfinished business on the Frances. I am curious to discover, along with you, what that is! Buen Camino, my dear!

    • Sometimes She Travels July 11, 2015 at 08:17

      Hi Elle. The mysteries/revelations continue to unfold on this year’s crazy, mixed-up Camino! I will try to send you a private message via your site. Buen Camino

  • Beth Callahan July 11, 2015 at 01:39

    How strange to have seen your kind post to a young man trying to decide what direction to follow on the Caminos yesterday and then to find your blog tonight by googling “camino+introvert”. I’m enjoying the read and after a couple of years of planning and reading, will probably “pull the trigger” and buy those tickets to Madrid for September. Best wishes for the rest of your 2015 pilgrimage and I’ll check back.

    • Sometimes She Travels July 11, 2015 at 08:10

      What wonderful synchronicity, Beth. Thank you for sharing that and for your kind wishes. I’d love to hear when you decide to pull the trigger!

  • Thomas Wall June 3, 2018 at 17:51

    I walked the french way in 2017 and got the bug,so i walked from porto in april 2018,a very different camino,lots of alone time and introverter,i loved the firstt 10 days of the french way and long to return and i have already picked my small town Alberges to stay and I’m bringing my guitar

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