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Live - Cam. Norte Impressions from the covid Norte - walked Gijon to Finisterre, August 2020

Tantalu

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances(2018, 2019), about to walk Camino Norte
Hola peregrinos!
I just got back from my third camino adventure in the times of Covid and would like to share the sum of my experiences in this thread, in the hope that it might help or entertain you. :)

1. My itinerary
I walked Gijon to the second stage of Finisterre (aprox. 400 km) in 14 days. My initial plan was to start in Irun, however after thoroughly searching accomodation options I came to the conclusion that it would be either very expensive (cheapest albuergue in Santander 22 euros, cheapest option in some Barque cities 150 euro hotels) or very annoying (needing to take a bus halfway to cover 50km stages between available open albuergues).

The situation was not so bad in Asturias and Galicia though. It was pretty easy to find an open, private albuergue to sleep in, at the price of 10 - 15 euros, usually 12 euros. I used the paid app "Camino Norte" and the website Gronze to check which of them where open. To make sure I didn't run into problems I phoned in the morning of my arrival to make a reservation in the following easy manner: "Hola, quisiera un una cama para hoy. Me llama {first name}." to which they answered "Vale, {first name}", I said "Gracias, adios" and closed the phone. Pretty easy dialog to memorize! Only 2 times it was fully booked, in Tapia and in Arzua, so plan accordingly.

2. The anti-covid measures
I felt safer in Spain than in my own country, since everyone is very careful and respects the measures, especially albuergues, restaurants and stores. People walk wearing a surgical mask within cities, even outside and make sure to keep their distances from you. All waiters wear masks and tables/chair are disinfected after every client. I sat outside in all the restaurants, as there where always confy places to do so.

I watched the terrifying albuergue, anti-covid measures video before leaving and I can tell you it was a stupid idea. First of all not even one albuergue put our backpack in a plastic garbage bag upon arrival. You just had to leave it on the floor and not put it on your bed (of course). Having a sleeping bag was redundant as well, like the video prescribes. I would have taken a warm silk liner instead, which is what I recommend. All albuergues provided bed sheets, half where disposable and half where normal washable linen with an extra sheet to cover yourself. Most even had blankets. You couldn't cook in most kitchens but it 3-4 you could and the rest had at least a microwave you could use or a fridge, of course a faucet for water and plates, knifes etc. which you washed after use. So carrying a water bottle is recommended but cup and anything more than a spork is redundant.

You also don't need your own disinfectant, just take a small alcohol gel for the plane/train or a small spray bottle with alcohol. Absolutely every albuergue, store and restaurant has free alcohol gel you can use and cleaning products in their bathroom. I did take 20 surgical masks with me (one for everyday) and one N95 one for planes/train, which has better protection and can be used multiple times. And that's the extent of special "equipment" you need for walking the coronavirus camino.

3. Who is walking the Norte now?
First of all let me say, that walking the Norte now, even in August, is a lonely business. Be prepared to walk multiple days completely on your own. Four types of peregrinos are walking now:
- Couples
Most couples are walking with a tent so you just randomly encounter them on the way and probably you will never see again. The ones in the albuergues mostly keep to themselves (also probably for safety reasons) and don't mingle with other people. By the way, the tent option totally doable on the norte if you don't mind the weight. There is forest, there are mountains, there are gardens of churches, take your pick. Check for a lightweight tent that let's you use your batons (walking sticks) to hold it up. Amazon has one for 1 kg and 100 euros or so.
- The crazies
You will only see them for a couple of days at most and then they disappear into the sunset, making you wonder if they are just a myth or tangible reality. See the spanish guy with started in Madrid and ran for 60km everyday, the German guy who starts late, has a luxurius breakfast and still manages to arrive two stages in front of you in the same day, walking as if his backpack is made of feathers (ie doing the norte from Irun in 22 days) or the japanese guy walking the Portugues on his own seeing no problem in walking 70 km to the next albuergue of the day. Lovely lonely wolves of the camino.
- The bicycle gangs
Tattooed gangs with all the gear and the camarederie of testosterone, they have a fiesta when they arrive at the albuergue and then fly themselves to Santiago the very next.
- The mediocre peregrinos craving someone to walk with
I count myself in this category as you can imagine. This species is the most underepresented on the Norte right now. I think we where maybe 5-6 of us in total and I walked with 2 of them. Lovely people as always, and time spent with them gives you the opportunity to gradually unravel the different levels of their individuality and delight. They are eager for human contact and having someone to share lunch with. And even though I don't mind walking alone I was grateful for the company. Do take this into account if your usual experience of the camino is that you will very soon find groups of people to walk with - you will not.

4. How does the Norte compare to the Frances?
The Norte is very scenic - you walk through forest, coastal routes where you can swim and mostly green, cow farms. Sometimes you begin to wonder if you have been transported into some paraller universe solely inhabited by cows, since no other human is visible well into the four corners of the horizon. You will not encounted picturesque medieval towns but rather modern villages with well kept houses and flowers. The camino does not play much part in those people's lifes. Expect an "hola" but not a buen camino until you get 200 km or so from Santiago.

The stages are very long. The less I walked in a day was 22 but usually it was 28 and very often 33, 35, 36 for consecutive days. Most towns don't have open shops or restaurants, so I was carrying one day's food (fruit, powerbars, chocolate, canned tuna, bread) and almost 1 Lt of water with me. Sometimes we asked located for water and they kindly filled our waterbottles in their kitchen. But this experience is very different from the Frances.

People start later. Most peregrinos started at 7:30 or even 8:00, which is unthinkable on the Frances. But the heat starts later, at 14:00 - 16:00 and the sun doesn't burn that much, many days were cloudy or rainy. That doesn't mean that you don't get tanned or burned by the UV, it just means you don't feel it while it's going on. And yes, we did have to walk in the rain some days.

You really need to have a map or a mobile with data and battery. It is very easy to get lost! Before Galicia the camino is very poorly marked and it is very easy to get lost on the mountain (ie. managed to even get tangled in overgrown thorns in a river bend) or walk for 2 km more only to realize you have to go back. Many alternative routes make the situation even more confusing. All in all, it is a very bad idea on the norte to not thoroughly check where you are going when the road splits, hoping that you will just figure it out down the road. You will not and you will suffer! Not to mention you might end up on the mountain in more dangerous than ideal situation.

But what I really, really didn't like where the amount of km's one had to walk on asphalt. I don't like cars zooming by and it is a torture for your feet. Sometimes it's possible to walk on the little overgrown grass at the side of the road, getting your shoes wet just to have something softer to step on for a bit. Some days most of the way was like this. Other days you got lost in reverie through bamboo forests and misty green hills.

5. What I would differently/carry with me or leave behind
I am glad of my decision to not bring a powerbank this time. Most private albuergues on the camino have individual plugs for each bed, with a small shelve to put your phone. Your mobile battery can last a full day if you use it wisely. And yes you need a mobile to check the map (see above). Next time I will not bring a full sized notebook (no point since I didn't write at all) or copious drawing supplies (since I didn't draw at all). It would be nice to have a couple of extra clip-on cameras for a mobile, to take nicer pictures.

A raincoat and backpack rain cover are a must on the norte. I'd rather not have brought my sleeping bag but instead a warm silk liner (such as thermolight), maybe one water bottle instead of two (and try to hydrate later in the afternoon), no sleeping clothes (my afternoon dress could double as that or the clean clothes of tomorrow's walking day). I should plan for space for extra food and some cream for muscles or sore feet. I really love my new discovery, a 2 euro and 150 ml cream bought at the supermarket for "piernas cansadas" (tired legs) with aloe vera and menthol. I used it multiple times during the day instead of vaseline and it makes your feet feel like after a shower, also very soft. I would like to have been carrying less weight (had 10 kg) because although I can walk with them, my feet suffer and take a long time to recover from the inflammation. I would take some sort of extra cushion for my heels, to put inside the shoes. And the best thing ever: a small massage ball from Decathlon you can roll with your feet in the afternoon, that thing is just magical! My clothes for my next camino will be:
1 pair of hiking pants, with detachable legs
1 pair of shorts and bicycle leg sleeves or 1 pair of athletic tights
2 quick dry t-shirts
1 long sleeve blouse
1 warmer fleece jacket
1 dress
4 pairs of socks
3 pairs of underware
2 bras
And I will try to cut some of this out :)

6. Feeling grateful
I am grateful for all the people I have met on the camino, even the 20 min encounters and for the stories that they shared with me. I am grateful for the scenery, for the fact that even though I am one year older I walked faster and longer than last year. I am grateful that I had the courage to ignore the media and plunge into the unknown, even though it turned out to be more a mosquito than a dragon "danger" to walk the coronavirus camino. I am grateful for my strong body. And last but not least, I am grateful for the existence of this medieval holy trail, whose spirituality is still respected, that gives us the opportunity to explore ourselves, to deeply get to know the people around us and to step out of our comfort zones, one step more each time. Thank you camino people, pilgrims, hospitaleros and spanish state alike, for keeping the Camino alive. May it live long after we are all gone. Amen.
 

Bala

Veteran member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: SJPdP-Burgos, (2015); Burgos-Sarria (2018); Sarria-Santiago (2018).
Frances (2020)
Good to read an upbeat report from someone who's been there. Glad you had a rewarding time.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, SJPP to Finesterre April (2018)
Via Francigena Sept (2018)
Del Norte Aug (2019)
We walked the Norte last August and only saw 5-10 pilgrims a day. Sometimes none. It is expensive but so well worth it

Buen Camino
 

Tantalu

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances(2018, 2019), about to walk Camino Norte
Thanks Jbirk for the input, and I was wondering about that! Probably saw 5-10 peregrinos in total for all the days haha :) Nice to know how the "normal" camino Norte feels like.
 

Sue127

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
French Camino in 2020
Hola peregrinos!
I just got back from my third camino adventure in the times of Covid and would like to share the sum of my experiences in this thread, in the hope that it might help or entertain you. :)

1. My itinerary
I walked Gijon to the second stage of Finisterre (aprox. 400 km) in 14 days. My initial plan was to start in Irun, however after thoroughly searching accomodation options I came to the conclusion that it would be either very expensive (cheapest albuergue in Santander 22 euros, cheapest option in some Barque cities 150 euro hotels) or very annoying (needing to take a bus halfway to cover 50km stages between available open albuergues).

The situation was not so bad in Asturias and Galicia though. It was pretty easy to find an open, private albuergue to sleep in, at the price of 10 - 15 euros, usually 12 euros. I used the paid app "Camino Norte" and the website Gronze to check which of them where open. To make sure I didn't run into problems I phoned in the morning of my arrival to make a reservation in the following easy manner: "Hola, quisiera un una cama para hoy. Me llama {first name}." to which they answered "Vale, {first name}", I said "Gracias, adios" and closed the phone. Pretty easy dialog to memorize! Only 2 times it was fully booked, in Tapia and in Arzua, so plan accordingly.

2. The anti-covid measures
I felt safer in Spain than in my own country, since everyone is very careful and respects the measures, especially albuergues, restaurants and stores. People walk wearing a surgical mask within cities, even outside and make sure to keep their distances from you. All waiters wear masks and tables/chair are disinfected after every client. I sat outside in all the restaurants, as there where always confy places to do so.

I watched the terrifying albuergue, anti-covid measures video before leaving and I can tell you it was a stupid idea. First of all not even one albuergue put our backpack in a plastic garbage bag upon arrival. You just had to leave it on the floor and not put it on your bed (of course). Having a sleeping bag was redundant as well, like the video prescribes. I would have taken a warm silk liner instead, which is what I recommend. All albuergues provided bed sheets, half where disposable and half where normal washable linen with an extra sheet to cover yourself. Most even had blankets. You couldn't cook in most kitchens but it 3-4 you could and the rest had at least a microwave you could use or a fridge, of course a faucet for water and plates, knifes etc. which you washed after use. So carrying a water bottle is recommended but cup and anything more than a spork is redundant.

You also don't need your own disinfectant, just take a small alcohol gel for the plane/train or a small spray bottle with alcohol. Absolutely every albuergue, store and restaurant has free alcohol gel you can use and cleaning products in their bathroom. I did take 20 surgical masks with me (one for everyday) and one N95 one for planes/train, which has better protection and can be used multiple times. And that's the extent of special "equipment" you need for walking the coronavirus camino.

3. Who is walking the Norte now?
First of all let me say, that walking the Norte now, even in August, is a lonely business. Be prepared to walk multiple days completely on your own. Four types of peregrinos are walking now:
- Couples
Most couples are walking with a tent so you just randomly encounter them on the way and probably you will never see again. The ones in the albuergues mostly keep to themselves (also probably for safety reasons) and don't mingle with other people. By the way, the tent option totally doable on the norte if you don't mind the weight. There is forest, there are mountains, there are gardens of churches, take your pick. Check for a lightweight tent that let's you use your batons (walking sticks) to hold it up. Amazon has one for 1 kg and 100 euros or so.
- The crazies
You will only see them for a couple of days at most and then they disappear into the sunset, making you wonder if they are just a myth or tangible reality. See the spanish guy with started in Madrid and ran for 60km everyday, the German guy who starts late, has a luxurius breakfast and still manages to arrive two stages in front of you in the same day, walking as if his backpack is made of feathers (ie doing the norte from Irun in 22 days) or the japanese guy walking the Portugues on his own seeing no problem in walking 70 km to the next albuergue of the day. Lovely lonely wolves of the camino.
- The bicycle gangs
Tattooed gangs with all the gear and the camarederie of testosterone, they have a fiesta when they arrive at the albuergue and then fly themselves to Santiago the very next.
- The mediocre peregrinos craving someone to walk with
I count myself in this category as you can imagine. This species is the most underepresented on the Norte right now. I think we where maybe 5-6 of us in total and I walked with 2 of them. Lovely people as always, and time spent with them gives you the opportunity to gradually unravel the different levels of their individuality and delight. They are eager for human contact and having someone to share lunch with. And even though I don't mind walking alone I was grateful for the company. Do take this into account if your usual experience of the camino is that you will very soon find groups of people to walk with - you will not.

4. How does the Norte compare to the Frances?
The Norte is very scenic - you walk through forest, coastal routes where you can swim and mostly green, cow farms. Sometimes you begin to wonder if you have been transported into some paraller universe solely inhabited by cows, since no other human is visible well into the four corners of the horizon. You will not encounted picturesque medieval towns but rather modern villages with well kept houses and flowers. The camino does not play much part in those people's lifes. Expect an "hola" but not a buen camino until you get 200 km or so from Santiago.

The stages are very long. The less I walked in a day was 22 but usually it was 28 and very often 33, 35, 36 for consecutive days. Most towns don't have open shops or restaurants, so I was carrying one day's food (fruit, powerbars, chocolate, canned tuna, bread) and almost 1 Lt of water with me. Sometimes we asked located for water and they kindly filled our waterbottles in their kitchen. But this experience is very different from the Frances.

People start later. Most peregrinos started at 7:30 or even 8:00, which is unthinkable on the Frances. But the heat starts later, at 14:00 - 16:00 and the sun doesn't burn that much, many days were cloudy or rainy. That doesn't mean that you don't get tanned or burned by the UV, it just means you don't feel it while it's going on. And yes, we did have to walk in the rain some days.

You really need to have a map or a mobile with data and battery. It is very easy to get lost! Before Galicia the camino is very poorly marked and it is very easy to get lost on the mountain (ie. managed to even get tangled in overgrown thorns in a river bend) or walk for 2 km more only to realize you have to go back. Many alternative routes make the situation even more confusing. All in all, it is a very bad idea on the norte to not thoroughly check where you are going when the road splits, hoping that you will just figure it out down the road. You will not and you will suffer! Not to mention you might end up on the mountain in more dangerous than ideal situation.

But what I really, really didn't like where the amount of km's one had to walk on asphalt. I don't like cars zooming by and it is a torture for your feet. Sometimes it's possible to walk on the little overgrown grass at the side of the road, getting your shoes wet just to have something softer to step on for a bit. Some days most of the way was like this. Other days you got lost in reverie through bamboo forests and misty green hills.

5. What I would differently/carry with me or leave behind
I am glad of my decision to not bring a powerbank this time. Most private albuergues on the camino have individual plugs for each bed, with a small shelve to put your phone. Your mobile battery can last a full day if you use it wisely. And yes you need a mobile to check the map (see above). Next time I will not bring a full sized notebook (no point since I didn't write at all) or copious drawing supplies (since I didn't draw at all). It would be nice to have a couple of extra clip-on cameras for a mobile, to take nicer pictures.

A raincoat and backpack rain cover are a must on the norte. I'd rather not have brought my sleeping bag but instead a warm silk liner (such as thermolight), maybe one water bottle instead of two (and try to hydrate later in the afternoon), no sleeping clothes (my afternoon dress could double as that or the clean clothes of tomorrow's walking day). I should plan for space for extra food and some cream for muscles or sore feet. I really love my new discovery, a 2 euro and 150 ml cream bought at the supermarket for "piernas cansadas" (tired legs) with aloe vera and menthol. I used it multiple times during the day instead of vaseline and it makes your feet feel like after a shower, also very soft. I would like to have been carrying less weight (had 10 kg) because although I can walk with them, my feet suffer and take a long time to recover from the inflammation. I would take some sort of extra cushion for my heels, to put inside the shoes. And the best thing ever: a small massage ball from Decathlon you can roll with your feet in the afternoon, that thing is just magical! My clothes for my next camino will be:
1 pair of hiking pants, with detachable legs
1 pair of shorts and bicycle leg sleeves or 1 pair of athletic tights
2 quick dry t-shirts
1 long sleeve blouse
1 warmer fleece jacket
1 dress
4 pairs of socks
3 pairs of underware
2 bras
And I will try to cut some of this out :)

6. Feeling grateful
I am grateful for all the people I have met on the camino, even the 20 min encounters and for the stories that they shared with me. I am grateful for the scenery, for the fact that even though I am one year older I walked faster and longer than last year. I am grateful that I had the courage to ignore the media and plunge into the unknown, even though it turned out to be more a mosquito than a dragon "danger" to walk the coronavirus camino. I am grateful for my strong body. And last but not least, I am grateful for the existence of this medieval holy trail, whose spirituality is still respected, that gives us the opportunity to explore ourselves, to deeply get to know the people around us and to step out of our comfort zones, one step more each time. Thank you camino people, pilgrims, hospitaleros and spanish state alike, for keeping the Camino alive. May it live long after we are all gone. Amen.
Thank you for your wonderful account. I am more and more tempted to walk now.
 

Pia Valbak Schmidt

Pilgrim, DK, Caminos 2007,09,11,12,13,14.15,16,18
Camino(s) past & future
2007,2009,2011,2012,2013,2014.2015,2016,2018. Hospitalera 2012,2013,2014,2016,2017
Hola peregrinos!
I just got back from my third camino adventure in the times of Covid and would like to share the sum of my experiences in this thread, in the hope that it might help or entertain you. :)

1. My itinerary
I walked Gijon to the second stage of Finisterre (aprox. 400 km) in 14 days. My initial plan was to start in Irun, however after thoroughly searching accomodation options I came to the conclusion that it would be either very expensive (cheapest albuergue in Santander 22 euros, cheapest option in some Barque cities 150 euro hotels) or very annoying (needing to take a bus halfway to cover 50km stages between available open albuergues).

The situation was not so bad in Asturias and Galicia though. It was pretty easy to find an open, private albuergue to sleep in, at the price of 10 - 15 euros, usually 12 euros. I used the paid app "Camino Norte" and the website Gronze to check which of them where open. To make sure I didn't run into problems I phoned in the morning of my arrival to make a reservation in the following easy manner: "Hola, quisiera un una cama para hoy. Me llama {first name}." to which they answered "Vale, {first name}", I said "Gracias, adios" and closed the phone. Pretty easy dialog to memorize! Only 2 times it was fully booked, in Tapia and in Arzua, so plan accordingly.

2. The anti-covid measures
I felt safer in Spain than in my own country, since everyone is very careful and respects the measures, especially albuergues, restaurants and stores. People walk wearing a surgical mask within cities, even outside and make sure to keep their distances from you. All waiters wear masks and tables/chair are disinfected after every client. I sat outside in all the restaurants, as there where always confy places to do so.

I watched the terrifying albuergue, anti-covid measures video before leaving and I can tell you it was a stupid idea. First of all not even one albuergue put our backpack in a plastic garbage bag upon arrival. You just had to leave it on the floor and not put it on your bed (of course). Having a sleeping bag was redundant as well, like the video prescribes. I would have taken a warm silk liner instead, which is what I recommend. All albuergues provided bed sheets, half where disposable and half where normal washable linen with an extra sheet to cover yourself. Most even had blankets. You couldn't cook in most kitchens but it 3-4 you could and the rest had at least a microwave you could use or a fridge, of course a faucet for water and plates, knifes etc. which you washed after use. So carrying a water bottle is recommended but cup and anything more than a spork is redundant.

You also don't need your own disinfectant, just take a small alcohol gel for the plane/train or a small spray bottle with alcohol. Absolutely every albuergue, store and restaurant has free alcohol gel you can use and cleaning products in their bathroom. I did take 20 surgical masks with me (one for everyday) and one N95 one for planes/train, which has better protection and can be used multiple times. And that's the extent of special "equipment" you need for walking the coronavirus camino.

3. Who is walking the Norte now?
First of all let me say, that walking the Norte now, even in August, is a lonely business. Be prepared to walk multiple days completely on your own. Four types of peregrinos are walking now:
- Couples
Most couples are walking with a tent so you just randomly encounter them on the way and probably you will never see again. The ones in the albuergues mostly keep to themselves (also probably for safety reasons) and don't mingle with other people. By the way, the tent option totally doable on the norte if you don't mind the weight. There is forest, there are mountains, there are gardens of churches, take your pick. Check for a lightweight tent that let's you use your batons (walking sticks) to hold it up. Amazon has one for 1 kg and 100 euros or so.
- The crazies
You will only see them for a couple of days at most and then they disappear into the sunset, making you wonder if they are just a myth or tangible reality. See the spanish guy with started in Madrid and ran for 60km everyday, the German guy who starts late, has a luxurius breakfast and still manages to arrive two stages in front of you in the same day, walking as if his backpack is made of feathers (ie doing the norte from Irun in 22 days) or the japanese guy walking the Portugues on his own seeing no problem in walking 70 km to the next albuergue of the day. Lovely lonely wolves of the camino.
- The bicycle gangs
Tattooed gangs with all the gear and the camarederie of testosterone, they have a fiesta when they arrive at the albuergue and then fly themselves to Santiago the very next.
- The mediocre peregrinos craving someone to walk with
I count myself in this category as you can imagine. This species is the most underepresented on the Norte right now. I think we where maybe 5-6 of us in total and I walked with 2 of them. Lovely people as always, and time spent with them gives you the opportunity to gradually unravel the different levels of their individuality and delight. They are eager for human contact and having someone to share lunch with. And even though I don't mind walking alone I was grateful for the company. Do take this into account if your usual experience of the camino is that you will very soon find groups of people to walk with - you will not.

4. How does the Norte compare to the Frances?
The Norte is very scenic - you walk through forest, coastal routes where you can swim and mostly green, cow farms. Sometimes you begin to wonder if you have been transported into some paraller universe solely inhabited by cows, since no other human is visible well into the four corners of the horizon. You will not encounted picturesque medieval towns but rather modern villages with well kept houses and flowers. The camino does not play much part in those people's lifes. Expect an "hola" but not a buen camino until you get 200 km or so from Santiago.

The stages are very long. The less I walked in a day was 22 but usually it was 28 and very often 33, 35, 36 for consecutive days. Most towns don't have open shops or restaurants, so I was carrying one day's food (fruit, powerbars, chocolate, canned tuna, bread) and almost 1 Lt of water with me. Sometimes we asked located for water and they kindly filled our waterbottles in their kitchen. But this experience is very different from the Frances.

People start later. Most peregrinos started at 7:30 or even 8:00, which is unthinkable on the Frances. But the heat starts later, at 14:00 - 16:00 and the sun doesn't burn that much, many days were cloudy or rainy. That doesn't mean that you don't get tanned or burned by the UV, it just means you don't feel it while it's going on. And yes, we did have to walk in the rain some days.

You really need to have a map or a mobile with data and battery. It is very easy to get lost! Before Galicia the camino is very poorly marked and it is very easy to get lost on the mountain (ie. managed to even get tangled in overgrown thorns in a river bend) or walk for 2 km more only to realize you have to go back. Many alternative routes make the situation even more confusing. All in all, it is a very bad idea on the norte to not thoroughly check where you are going when the road splits, hoping that you will just figure it out down the road. You will not and you will suffer! Not to mention you might end up on the mountain in more dangerous than ideal situation.

But what I really, really didn't like where the amount of km's one had to walk on asphalt. I don't like cars zooming by and it is a torture for your feet. Sometimes it's possible to walk on the little overgrown grass at the side of the road, getting your shoes wet just to have something softer to step on for a bit. Some days most of the way was like this. Other days you got lost in reverie through bamboo forests and misty green hills.

5. What I would differently/carry with me or leave behind
I am glad of my decision to not bring a powerbank this time. Most private albuergues on the camino have individual plugs for each bed, with a small shelve to put your phone. Your mobile battery can last a full day if you use it wisely. And yes you need a mobile to check the map (see above). Next time I will not bring a full sized notebook (no point since I didn't write at all) or copious drawing supplies (since I didn't draw at all). It would be nice to have a couple of extra clip-on cameras for a mobile, to take nicer pictures.

A raincoat and backpack rain cover are a must on the norte. I'd rather not have brought my sleeping bag but instead a warm silk liner (such as thermolight), maybe one water bottle instead of two (and try to hydrate later in the afternoon), no sleeping clothes (my afternoon dress could double as that or the clean clothes of tomorrow's walking day). I should plan for space for extra food and some cream for muscles or sore feet. I really love my new discovery, a 2 euro and 150 ml cream bought at the supermarket for "piernas cansadas" (tired legs) with aloe vera and menthol. I used it multiple times during the day instead of vaseline and it makes your feet feel like after a shower, also very soft. I would like to have been carrying less weight (had 10 kg) because although I can walk with them, my feet suffer and take a long time to recover from the inflammation. I would take some sort of extra cushion for my heels, to put inside the shoes. And the best thing ever: a small massage ball from Decathlon you can roll with your feet in the afternoon, that thing is just magical! My clothes for my next camino will be:
1 pair of hiking pants, with detachable legs
1 pair of shorts and bicycle leg sleeves or 1 pair of athletic tights
2 quick dry t-shirts
1 long sleeve blouse
1 warmer fleece jacket
1 dress
4 pairs of socks
3 pairs of underware
2 bras
And I will try to cut some of this out :)

6. Feeling grateful
I am grateful for all the people I have met on the camino, even the 20 min encounters and for the stories that they shared with me. I am grateful for the scenery, for the fact that even though I am one year older I walked faster and longer than last year. I am grateful that I had the courage to ignore the media and plunge into the unknown, even though it turned out to be more a mosquito than a dragon "danger" to walk the coronavirus camino. I am grateful for my strong body. And last but not least, I am grateful for the existence of this medieval holy trail, whose spirituality is still respected, that gives us the opportunity to explore ourselves, to deeply get to know the people around us and to step out of our comfort zones, one step more each time. Thank you camino people, pilgrims, hospitaleros and spanish state alike, for keeping the Camino alive. May it live long after we are all gone. Amen.
Thank you for your story, good to read, and a lot of memories pop up. El Camino del Norte is marvellous, but the Camino Francés is THE CAMINO for me 🍀 🙂
 

alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC

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