Camino del Norte ~ A Weekend of Rest and Family

September 3 & 4, 2022

After enjoying pizza with my Basque cousins on Friday night, we found a laundromat to wash our clothes and then spent Saturday with my cousin Mikel and his beautiful wife Ainara, touring Gernika and then visiting a few seaside towns before heading back to Markina for more – you guessed it – pizza.

We knew that we wouldn’t be able to see the Peace Museum in Gernika when we walk there on Monday, and I really wanted to see the town and the museum. It’s a wonderful city, filled with beautiful buildings and plenty of pintxos bars.

Guernica was brutally attacked in 1937 on a peaceful day while the townspeople were at the market, going about their business. The German Condor Legion introduced saturation bombing, pummeling the town with incendiary explosives before passing a second time to strafe the fleeing townspeople. The town was destroyed and thousands were killed.

As a result of the bombing, Guernica has very few historic buildings. However, a sapling of the old oak tree survives in the park surrounding the Casa de Juntas, the seat of the Viscayan Provincial General Assembly.

Picasso’s famous mural depicting the atrocities of that day:

A historical novel, Guernica, by Dave Boling, is a good read. It provides an interesting take on life in the Basque Country during that time, as well as the details of that horrific day.  

The next day, we visited the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen, and the Ermita de San Miguel de Arretxinaga in Markina-Xemein before heading to a delicious Paella feast at the cabin of my cousins Isma (y Inma) and Jon (y Loli), along with more cousins (Mikel & Ainara, Marisa, Miren, Joken, Charo & Ismael and their sons Guilllermo & Martín, Jon & Sandra, and Luken).

After appetizers and wine, we had an amazing Paella made by Loli and Inma, and a traditional Basque cheesecake and Tarta de Manzana (Apple Tart), both made by Inma. After a wonderful afternoon, we were ready for a good night’s sleep to get ready for our 5th stage on the Camino.

For reference, we started our Camino del Norte on 30-August at the border town of Irun, just west of San Sebastian. For the most part, we have walked along the Golfo de Vizcaya. We will continue our journey past Gijon toward the Cabo de Peñas on the coast before heading inland after Ribadeo (23-Sept) toward Santiago de Compostela.

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