The Magic of the Ermita de San Nicolas, Camino de Santiago
Words can not describe a special place like the Ermita de San Nicolas. I had read about it in the Brierley book and wanted to stop to spend the night. The only issue was that I had only read about it the night before in Castrojeriz – barely 10 kms away!
I woke early in the morning as so many of the pilgrims were up and out the door before sun up! I walked in the dark, chastising myself for not waiting for the light. I preferred to walk in the daylight as there was so much to see and I did not want to miss any arrows and end up walking in the wrong direction.
I arrived at the Ermita at 9am – how could I call it quits before the day even started? I debated with myself for a while over tea, talking to the volunteer from France who was helping to run San Nicolas. He had stayed there last year, and was so happy with this special place, he signed up to volunteer for 2 weeks. There is magic here – it is so peaceful and serene, it is hard to pass it up!
The Ermita de San Nicolas has no electricity – it is lit fully by candlelight. The 13th century buildings were restored by and are now run by the Italian Confraternity. It was originally an old pilgrim hospice with a Cistercian monastery added.
I could not resist – the pull for the calm and tranquility was so much, I took the first of 12 beds – spending a full 22 hours at the Ermita. This place is so special, and not for everyone! While silence was not mandatory, there was a quiet that pervaded the day, my fellow pilgrims also enjoying the time to reflect quietly and let the Magic in!
Dinner and breakfast were communal, by candlelight and loads of fun. I was there with a fantastic group of people and felt such relaxation – the most relaxed I had felt on the entire Camino de Santiago. In the evening, a traditional cleansing of the pilgrims feet ritual was performed before dinner.
I could hardly believe I had walked only 10 kms to get to the Ermita de San Nicolas, and that I stayed there from 9 in the morning, but this place was so special – I am so glad I did!