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Beginning El Norte

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
#1
We have walked the Camino Frances and the Via de la Plata. We are so looking forward to walking El Norte this spring.

We are beginning our planning for this coming spring, and are trying to work out the travel arrangements. Coming from North America (Canada), we have looked at alternatives such as Halifax to London - London to Biarritz, London to Paris & Paris by TGF to Bayonne, and various other combined options with destinations close to Irun based on flights and TGF to the area. What are the best bets? Is Irun the best destination? Is there a better / more reachable one?

Thanks in advance for your help and expertise in this area!

lynne
 

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#4
Hi, Lynne,
When I walked the Norte last year, I flew into Madrid, took the bus from the airport to Avenida de Americas bus station, and hopped on a bus to Bilbao. Once in Bilbao I took the lovely tram to the old part of town, and checked into the Iturrenea Ostatua, which is a charming place. My walking partner was flying in from California via London -- she flew directly to Bilbao and we met there. We spent our "getting over jet lag day" in Bilbao, going to the Guggenheim, etc., and then took a bus to Irun, spent the night in the albergue and then started walking the next day.

I like to have a day in Spain before I start to walk, but if you wanted to go directly to Irun from Madrid, I'd check out the schedules at http://www.movelia.es . I am sure that it's easy to get there from Madrid. I like going in and out of Madrid, because it's so easy to get to Madrid from Santiago at the end of the walk.

Laurie
 
#5
A route that I think you should look at is Canada-London; then Gatwick-Bilbao via EasyJet. Remember, however, that most flights from Canada arrive in London at Heathrow, not Gatwick and connections between the two are tedious, especially when jetlagged.

In Bilbao, there is a city bus from the airport to downtown although I confess that the last time we made this trip that I was defeated by the schedule information posted at the airport and ended up taking a taxi. How's your Euskadi (the language spoken in the Basque provinces)? Better than mine, I trust.

As others have pointed out, there is a good bus service from Bilbao to Irun and Hendaye (and on to Biarritz and Bayonne, by the way, for anyone starting from SJPP). We took this trip in reverse about 18 months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. It travels through some very picturesque country and you will get a preview of your first few days of walking.

One other thing to keep in mind is that Air Canada (bless their tiny black hearts) are instituting a new route into Madrid. I believe this service starts June 15 (confirm at their website if you are interested) and all flights are through Toronto which is not so helpful if you are starting east of there.

- DR
 

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lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
#6
Thanks for the tips! Actually I found I can get a pretty cheap flight on Ryanair from Stansted airport to Biarritz (30 GBP), then afterwards, Santiago de Compostela to Stanstead (40 GBP). (just a short hop to Irun). I think the 60 km or so transfer between Stansted and Heathrow is manageable. Has anyone done this?

lynne
 
Camino(s) past & future
Home to Reims 2007
Reims to Limoges 2008
Camino Ingles 2009
Limoges to Gernica 2009
Gernica to San Vicente de la Barquera 2010
San Vicente to La Isla 2012
La Isla to Santiago Sept/Oct 2014
#7
There are buses which run from Stanstead to Heathrow and on to Gatwick.

Bridget
 
Camino(s) past & future
Home to Reims 2007
Reims to Limoges 2008
Camino Ingles 2009
Limoges to Gernica 2009
Gernica to San Vicente de la Barquera 2010
San Vicente to La Isla 2012
La Isla to Santiago Sept/Oct 2014
#8
I have found a page on the BAA Stansted website headed Travel between airports which says National Express coaches depart every 30 - 60 minutes and the return fare is £30. Sounds do-able. I would expect to drive from Stansted to Heathrow in about 1 1/2 hours, all being well on the M25 (motorway which circles London.

Bridget again
 
#9
hi
I am from just north of toronto (orangeville) and i just purchased a ticket to paris on air transat, check the websit....all in under 800$ return...and a train to your chosen starting point can be booked in advance on rail europe only about 100E. I beging my journy the begining of sept.
good luck
Lorelei
 

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