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Diary from Camino del Norte...


...I walked El Camino del Norte on the Holy year 2004. (Holy year when Santiago's (St. Jacob/James/John) birthday fall on a sunday... which will be 2011 next time...

My website: http://www.raunsbjerg.dk

If you have any questions please feel free to ask.

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Welcome "back"!

Paulus, from Holland (but now living in France along the route GR13 after Vezelay!)
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.

Hi, Annette

I just wanted to tell you that, though I don't quite remember how I got a copy of it (maybe Sil sent it to me), I found your diary of the Norte extremely helpful when I walked it last summer. Can't wait to read your next one!
@Falcon269 - I believe your right ;) it is in 2010 - Will you be there?

@Peregrina2000 - I am glad you enjoy it. Well my new diary will of course be posted as well and I am sooo looking forward to writing it ;-)
Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.

Hi Annette and everyone

Greetings from Santiago where I´ve just spend a delightful few hours with fellow pilgrim Mermaidlilly. Annette I was so pleased to see that you are back in action following your moves etc. Some of us have followed yor website and writing for a considerable period and it is great that you will make a huge contribution to the forum.

Hasta pronto

Hi everyone,

Planning on beginning the Camino Del Norte around the 12th-13th of Sept. Just a quick question I hope someone can answer (I noticed this thread had some recent posts). I'll be starting from Irun......is there a place in Irun I can get my credencial? Also do I need to organise any of this in advance? I'm aware there is a new albergue there....and trying to get as much stuff organised before I leave Australia in a few days time.

Hope your all well,

Hi, Alex,
I walked the Norte from Irun last May. The albergue has credenciales. It is run by the local association, so no advance bookings allowed. And if I remember correctly, it opens around 4 p.m. It is very nice, but small (maybe 12-14 beds). To pick up on comments people are making on other threads, I should point out that we were able to stay there even though we had taken a bus and Irun was our starting point. In fact, everyone who stayed in the albergue with us last May was either starting in Irun or had started in Hendaye, a quick walk across the bridge to France.

I think you will love the norte. There are few walkers, but if you plan your journey to stay in albergues you will make contact with the group that's there. It's a bit harder to stay exclusively in albergues on the Norte because they are fewer and farther between, but we met several people who had done that. We didn't, we stayed often in pensiones and hotels but stayed in albergues whenever we found one at the right time of day. There are some beautiful ones on this route.

I think you'll avoid the tourist rush in September, just like we did in May. Unlike the Camino Frances, many of the towns on the Norte draw huge numbers of summer tourists, and it's no wonder why -- there are many beautiful places on the coast along the way.

So, there's really not to much planning or organizing to do. Just get ready for a wonderful journey!

A selection of Camino Jewellery
Hi Laurie,

Thanks for the reply and info mate. Your a bit of a camino guru I'd say judging by your posts and photos, so I really appreciate the advice. :)
After a bit more reading last night and today, I'm thinking of taking the primitivo from Oviedo. Do you have any knowledge of this route. :?: ...(or anyone else reading the thread :?: ). Also there seems to be several guides published by the CSJ, would you say they are essential, or can enough info be gathered about the various Caminos from these posts and the websites?
Do you have any site recommendations for historical info on these two Caminos....it would be nice to be aware of the significance of the landscape I walk through.
One more question :) .....I am determined to try and stay only in albergues....considering this would you be able to hazard a guess as to what a rough budget should be? I know it can depend on a lot, but just a rough figure would be handy!

Thanks again for your help mate....these forums and people like you are a great assistance to a first time pilgrim. :wink:
Hi, Alex,

I hope Sil will read this, because she is a treasure trove of information. My understanding of the historical roots of the Camino Primitivo is pretty superficial, but I think they are twofold -- first, as a way to get people who walked on the coast down to Santiago (as you will be doing), but also as a way for people who left the Camino Frances in Leon and went up to Oviedo to get back to the Camino Frances. Going to Oviedo was important because of the statue of Christ in the Cathedral (still there). In fact, there's a refrain from those days along the lines of "whoever goes to Santiago without visiting the Christ, visits the servant and not the master" (sounds much better in Spanish -- "Quien va a Compostela sin pasar por el Salvador visita al criado y no al Señor").

As far as historical information, I have found a fair amount on the internet, but most are in Spanish. There's one in English that talks about the history of the Primitivo, but only the part that's in the region of Galicia. The Primitivo starts one region to the east of Galicia, in Asturias, and there is an association with a website for that part, too, but it's in Spanish. The ones in spanish, even if you don't understand much, give you maps of stages (click on "etapas") and lists of albergues and lots of enticing beautiful pictures. Here's a sampling:

http://www.xacobeo.es/index.php?idMenu= ... idIdioma=3
(historical information in English)

http://www.caminosantiagoastur.com/ (Asturian Association with stages and lots of information on both the Primitivo and the camino del Salvador).

http://www.caminotineo.com/portada_1.htm (another association of Galician and Asturian friends of the Camino)

When I walked the Norte, I did "dip down" to visit Oviedo but then headed back up to the coast. So I can't tell you much about the Primitivo -- yet! This fall, I'm planning to walk from Leon up to Oviedo (the Camino del Salvador) and then from Oviedo to Santiago on the Primitivo. I will leave Leon on Sept. 27, so actually we may run into each other at some point.

As far as guidebooks, I know I'm repeating myself here, sorry, but the Germans get the prize for accurate up to date guides. I assume they have one for the Primitivo. I just got my Confraternity guide yesterday in the mail (came very quickly to the US) and, with the updates that it publishes on the web, I think it will be very helpful. I used their guide for the Norte and it was helpful, but there were places where it didn't keep us from getting lost. When we walked with our German friends we never got lost, but that's also probably a factor of my own terrible sense of direction.

Budget -- well, if you keep to the albergues you're usually in the 3-6 E range. Private albergues will be more, probably 6-9E, but I remember only 2 or 3 on the Norte. Food costs are really varied -- depending on if you cook in the albergue, have pilgrims menus in restaurants (range from 8-10 roughly), or splurge on big meals. Cooking facilities aren't typically available in private albergues, because they usually serve meals and want you to eat their food. It's easy to spend a lot in bars, cafe con leche in the morning (1 - 1.5 E, and one is rarely enough for me!), cerveza upon arrival in the afternoon (usually about the same, or less, than coffee), so it really depends on your own discipline and tastes.

I've had a few Australian friends over the years, and your use of "mate" just made me smile -- I can still hear that twangy "a" that no American can ever hope to replicate.

If you need help with the Spanish on any of those websites, let me know. Laurie
My understanding is that the Primitivo is the "Original" route to Compostela - the route that Alfonso II took in the 9th C when he travelled there to verify the remains of Saint James when his body was supposedly discovered in a necropolis on the hillside.
I think the saying that one should visit the Saviour in Oviedo refers to the Holy Chamber where one of the relics is the Sudarium (a cloth supposedly used to cover the face of Jesus whilst he was on the cross). The history of the sudarium and other relics (fragments of the Cross, relics of the Virgin Mary and the Twelve Apostles) in the 'Ark' are well documented, and much more straightforward than that of the Shroud of Turin. Most of the information comes from the twelfth century bishop of Oviedo, Pelagius (or Pelayo), whose historical works are the Book of the Testaments of Oviedo, and the Chronicon Regum Legionensium.
The CSJ Overview says that:
Many pilgrims left the Camino francés at León and travelled north to visit the Cámara Santa (Holy Chamber) in Oviedo Cathedral. Extra indulgences were thus gained. Quien va a Santiago y no al Salvador, visita al criado y deja al Señor (“Whoever goes to Saint James and not to the Saviour, visits the servant and misses the Master.”)
I don't know much about the places along the way but this online down-loadable guide offers some historical background to the places you pass through.
http://www.galiciadigital.com/pcd/Camin ... ?p=etapa:1〈=en
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Hi Alex and everyone,

When you walk the Camino del Norte, make sure you do yourself the favor an leave the yellow arrows for a while in Buelna. (Between Colombres and LLanes) I promise you you will end up on the right camino again with the yellow arrows after a few kilometres. (may be 10km).

- Just before walking in to the village you will find a tourist information on your left... and 50m further on your right you will find a sign saying "Playa" (Beach). Following the beach sign (which points to the right) will take you of the Camino, and it is not because you will go down to the beach, instread you should now follow the E9 signs (marked track)... on your left.

You will be walking on a marked track on top of the cliffs... having a WONDERFUL seaview for a long time - following the yellow arrows will not give you half this view if any... you will on you right side see and hear the waves explode on the cliffs... enjoying the view from above, and on your left you will have green fields and trees... it is absolutely worth this detour. If you choose to follow the arrows instead of taking this detour you will be walking on asphalt with cars passing by...

If I go on the Camino del Norte again, I will most definitly make this detour again.

This is a part of the view you get... Just not with me in it :wink:
Hi Annette....Laurie....Sil and everyone.

I'm loving this forum! Such a helpful group of people. I grabbed a huge map of Spain today and am now starting to orient myself with all the towns (and detours :) ) that have been suggested. Annette and Laurie your photos were definately the clincher for me deciding on the Norte, so thanks for sharing them :) .

At the moment I've got the idea in my head that I'll be able eat some speccy local seafood whilst in touch with the coast....is this viable without spending a lot? Are there opportunities to eat regional seafood dishes? Does the menu peregrino vary from place to place or is it a traditional fare?

Laurie I reckon theres a good chance we might catch up sometime in september mate! I'd be stoked to wander along with you for a while. Can you read and speak Spainish pretty well :?: Do you suggest any particular phrase book or site for picking up some working lingo :?:

Anyone else out there who is planning to be on the trail between mid september and mid october please say hello.....would be good to meet some other pilgrims along the way.

Annette do you regret not dropping by the Guggenheim? Also I'm planning to leave Irun on Sept 13 and be in SDC by the 11-12th of October.....is this a bit ambitious or a pretty reasonable amount of time? Also whats Spainish beer like? I've had a couple of imported varieties here....but have a sneaking suspicion they might be our equilavent to Fosters (i.e NO ONE in the country it comes from actually drinks the stuff!!! :wink:

Thanks again for all the prompt and very helpful replies people :)

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Hi, everyone, or should I say, mates,

Alex, By my count, you've got about 30 walking days. I think that Irun to Oviedo is about 500 km and Oviedo to Santiago is about 300 km. My computer calculator tells me that's almost 27 km per day. That seems well within the realm of possible for people on the other side of the middle - age divide than I am. :wink: I'm 57 and try to plan for about a 24 km average, with a rest day or two thrown in for good measure. On the norte, we spent a day in Llanes and a day in Oviedo. We were totally unrushed and made it in about 35 -36 days I believe. Of course you have to deal with the fact that the albergues aren't going to be at perfect 27 km intervals, but I think it sounds reasonable and do-able for you.

My walking partner and I met in Bilbao and spent our "get over jet lag" day there before taking the bus to Irun. So we had a chance to visit the Guggenheim. I'm not much of a modern art connoisseur, but I thought the exhibits inside were for the most part depressing downers. Sunflowers drenched in lead for example. But the building, wow, it is amazing and we really enjoyed walking around it, walking on the river across from it, climbing up to the top of the bridge next to it, so I am definitely glad we went. The entrance fee is pretty steep, I think around 12E (?). But the old style museum across the road, the Museo de Bellas Artes, is more my speed, with its Sorolla, El Greco, Ribera, etc. And it has a very nice coffee shop as I remember. I was definitely glad we spent a day in Bilbao, the old casco historico is really nice as is the neighborhood across the river with stately buildings from, I think, early 1900s.

My Spanish is good and that helps a lot, but I have met tons of pilgrims who speak very little or no Spanish. I can't help with a phrase book recommendation, you might want to post a question about that in a more general forum like "Equipment Questions" or whichever topic seems more closely related. I will say that Spaniards, like people everywhere, appreciate it when people try to communicate in their language and if you're armed with a phrase book and gestures, I don't think you'll have a problem, because people will help you out.

I'm no beer snob, in fact I rarely drink it at home, but there are few things more satisfying than sitting outdoors in a cafe, freshly showered after a long walk and watching the world go by with a Spanish beer. Whether it's great beer or not, I don't know, but I guarantee it will taste great to you. If Jan is reading this post, he can corroborate this (and maybe give us a few brands that he likes) -- I remember many times when he arrived at our destination before I did, and he and Erna were already sitting there with a beer even before the shower!

And thanks, Sil, for clearing up what was being visited in Oviedo. I definitely need to do some more reading -- am I wrong about there being a very old stone Christ figure in the cathedral that is important to the Camino's history, too?

Alex, I think you will find fewer places on the norte that serve "menu del peregrino" but all Spanish restaurants serve a "menu del dia" but usually only at lunch. We did eat a lot of seafood and fish on the Norte, with my all time favorites being Las Arenillas in Islares and the hotel across the street from the pension in El Peral. All the tourist towns on the coast are of course loaded with restaurants and seafood, but the places like the two I mentioned, in more out of the way places, stick out in my mind for the extremely high quality and low prices.

Ok, one more comment before I get back to work (my coffee break is ending.....), on the detours. I agree with Annette that the E-9 detour on the day into Llanes is one of the most beautiful walks anywhere. In fact, there are several other E-9 detours that I mentioned in my description of my etapas on the post with my pictures. I took every E-9 detour I could find, they always go back to the Camino. I think Johnny Walker makes a good point when he notes that the marked route is always changing and so maybe it's silly to worry about "authenticity." In my own experience, I've walked the Frances 3 or 4 times now, and each time I go back, there are always re-routings, either because of highway construction or because of neighbors complaining about the hoards (at least that was the explanation given to me when I asked in Estella about why the way in had changed so dramatically).

Sorry to keep going on and on, you can see this is definitely work avoidance on my part! Laurie

peregrina2000 said:
....... Whether it's great beer or not, I don't know, but I guarantee it will taste great to you. If Jan is reading this post, he can corroborate this (and maybe give us a few brands that he likes) -- I remember many times when he arrived at our destination before I did, and he and Erna were already sitting there with a beer even before the shower!

Indeed, a good glass of 'cerveza' after a long day of walking is great. We made it a custom to have a good beer after walking and then have the shower. For us it was not important which brand, Spanish, Belgium, Dutch, we had. I really do not know any brand of the beer we had on our camino's, but they all tasted well!

Jan Brilleman

I cannot comment on the beer-quality because I don't like it but we always got a wine in a little wine-glass : it had a special name we learned from a French pilgrim............. anyone?

Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.

My husband enjoyed Estrella, Mahou and San Miguel.
Every day on the VdlP I drank the best cold beer I had ever had in my life. How good is that?!
...Yeah, a good glass of icecold beer (no specific brand) taste really good at the end. I guess it is leaving all those footsteps that makes one so thirsty :wink: - it has allways been a trradition of mine on my Caminos and I'm sure it will happen again in September.
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Hi Annette,

lovely website !!.... My husband and I would love to follow the camino del norte next spring. All we have is 3 weeks and will never have a chance to go back. Although I am sure that the whole camino is worth it, is there any part of the trail (with less interest) that we could skip either by bus or train that will permit us to reach our goal, Santiago de Compostela ?

Your help would be much much appreciated :wink:

Ginette from Canada
Hi Ginette,

Camino del Norte with "only" 3 Weeks - I would start in Bilbao.
There are stretches along the road on asphalt... but they are worth it... there are routes along the coast where you can see the coast the whole day... it is all worth it. However there are longer between albergues on Camino del Norte than on Camino Frances...

Is this your first Camino?

Camino del Norte is not so well marked... but please do not loose hope... you can still find your way easily. All you need is a guidebook - the one from here: http://www.csj.org.uk/acatalog/The_CSJ_Bookshop_Pilgrim_Guides_to_Spain_23.html - is lightweight and very usefull. If the yellow arrows are missing just follow the "citysigns" to the next pueblo... or ask for directions...

If you read my diary from Camino del Norte you will find there are a few places to take a boat... the one to Santander will save you a days walk...

Or you can start out in Santander... take it slowly, and if you have time at the end... walk to the coast at Finisterre... - I am not a believer in "jumping" a few pueblos by bus as I do believe that to get the full feeling of a Camino... you have to walk all the steps from where you start out... where ever that may be. - If you are both in good shape... start in Bilbao... I am sure you will love it.

As mentioned up above in this thread... don´t miss out on leaving the yellow arrows in Buelna. (Between Colombres and LLanes) it is REALLY beautiful...

I noticed you have sent me an email... I will send this in a reply to your email too
Hi Annette,

thank you for responding so quickly. Yes... it will be our first camino and frankly I am not too sure wich Camino to walk. I have spent the last day reading your diary which is very interesting and pleasant to read :D However, I am not sure if I am ready to struggle as much finding albergues and getting lost :oops: The views are probably to die for but... oh... I am so confused :cry:

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Ginette - if you believe that you will never get back to walk another camino then perhaps you should consider the Camino Frances?
With 3 weeks you could walk from Roncesvalles to about Logrono in 7 days:-

1) Roncesvalles - Zubiri 21.8 km
2) Zubiri - Pamplona 20.5 km
3) Pamplona - Obanos 21.1 km
4) Obanos - Estella 24.4 km
5) Estella - Los Arcos 21 km
6) Los Arcos - Viana 18 km
7) Viana - Logroño 9.3 km (Short day so that you can have a look at Logroño before getting your
bus to Leon)
.... get a bus to Leon (http://www.alsa.es)

LOGROÑO LEON 14:50 18:30 18.16 euro
LOGROÑO LEON 15:15 19:25

.... and then get an early bus to Astorga and walk from there
(Buses start at 6am, almost every half hour, take 50 mins and cost 3.15 euro)

Astorga - Rabanal del Camino 20.4 km
9) Rabanal del Camino - Molinaseca 24.8 km
10) Molinaseca - Cacabelos 23 km
11) Cacabelos - Vega de Valcarce 24 km
12) Vega de Valcarce - Alto do Poio 20.2 km
13) Alto do Poio - Samos 22.3 km
14) Samos - Barbadelo 19 km
15) Barbadelo - Gonzar 26.3 km
16) Gonzar - Casanova 22.5 km
17) Casanova - Ribadiso da Baixo 20 km
18) Ribadiso da Baixo - Rúa 20.9 km
19) Rúa - Santiago de Compostela 20.7 km

20) Day Free in Santiago.
sillydoll said:
14) Samos - Barbadelo 19 km

I´m going to make just one suggestion to add to this very good timetable: not Barbadelo, but Ferreiros, and it is only a few kilometres more. Ferreiros/Eirexe has a lovely albergue with a great hospitalera and there´s a good place to eat right opposite: the restaurante Conde de Waldemar (where I had Christmas dinner last December and an excellent menu peregrino on the way to Santiago just a short time ago). The albergue also has a washing machine, so get there early and get all your washing drying on the line while eating a leisurely late lunch at the Conde de Waldemar, as they serve food all day.

Thank you Gareth - that is a good idea. The schedule is just a guide - to show that it can be done in the time Ginette has. They might walk longer distances - get to Santiago a day early and have time to get a bus and spend a day at Finisterre.
Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.

Wow !!... thank you so much to both of you for all your help ! I really appreciate it....
We will consider all our options and let you know what we've decided.
This site is great !! :wink:


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