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Recommendations for Rest & Exploration Days on the Norte

FSP

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(13)
Portuguese & Finisterre(16)
Norte & Muxia(18)
Olvidado&Salvador&Primitivo(20??)
I'm starting the Norte about Sept 3. I've given myself some extra time for rest and exploration days. Part of the reason I walk a Camino is to take in the cultural aspects of the country side I'm passing through rather than focusing on the kms to get to the end and on this one I'll have that privilege. However, I have been guilty of getting caught up in the herd mentality despite telling myself every time I'm not going to. While I have a couple of places in mind I'd very much appreciate your advice on the locations you did this or locations that you wish you had stayed longer in. I'm planning on sticking to the coastal trail options as much as possible.
Thank you,
Frank
 

Sue L

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sept/Oct 2015 Le Puy - to Conques, Tui - Santiago. May/June 2017 Conques to SJPP
We’re starting end of August and like you want to enjoy the stops too. It’s as much about the journey as the arrival so we’re also keen to read suggestions of experienced Norte Pilgrims.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
There are several notable stops: Guernica, for the Peace Museum and the Tree; Bolibar, for the Zenarruza Monastery; Bilbao, for the Museo de Bellas Artes. Between La Caridad and Ribadeo, I would suggest the seaside route by Tapia de Casariego. In Galicia, do not miss the diocesan museum in Mondenedo.
 

Momonne

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Primtivo, Portuguese, VDLP
Arriving early enough in Santillana may be of interest so you can walk up the hill to visit the replica of the Altamira cave (to be sure to get a ticket, you may want to book ahead of time). After Santillana a detour to visit the Gaudi’s Capricho and the pontifical univeristy, both in Comillas might also be of interest. I would not miss the church behind the muni in San Vicente de la barquera.
 

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
Part of the reason I walk a Camino is to take in the cultural aspects of the country side I'm passing through

Rather than decide on particular locations in advance, I like to have a good guide book with me, which explains interesting historical and cultural places along the way. I read up the day before on what tomorrow’s journey will bring. If one doesn’t want the weight of a guide book, then a couple of hours on the internet each evening would also work.

I cannot plan rest days. They happen when I need them. On the Norte I stopped for 2 nights at Castro Urdiales. I had already been walking for 4 weeks (from Soulac-sur-Mer) without a rest day, staying in albergues whenever I could, and the view of the town as I walked in over the hill, just decided me that I was tired and needed a rest. This place, by staying in a budget pensión, looked perfect.

The next (and only other) rest day was 2 nights in Luarca, and that was because it was pouring with rain!

The interesting historical and cultural places could all be seen (in my opinion), by stopping at them for a few hours along the way, whatever the time of day, as long as you know they are there.

But do stop! A lot of pilgrims just walk on by.
Jill
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
I would add my recommendation for the museum and replica cave at Altamira. If you buy a ticket in a branch of Santander bank it saves part of the queuing time. We bought ours in Santander itself in the main branch near the park - but you do have to know the day you will be in Santillana as they are date stamped.
If you are interested in cave paintings there is also the Cueva de Tito Bustillo just over the bridge at Ribadasella - also need a ticket.
Many of the towns have interesting side/back streets and old churches. We usually walked until (late-ish) lunch time, lunch, short siesta wash clothes then around 5pm went out to explore and get a snack before bed-time. That way we saw more of some places which did not need a full rest day.
 

caminka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
see signature
I'm also one of those pilgrims who cannot not stop or detour to admire architecture, culture, nature... (we here call such 'inability' to distance oneself from a beloved interest/proffesion ''poklicna deformacija'' = professional deformation - being a historian and an archeologist, you can understand my 'problem' :)).

I particulary like exploring little historic towns - santillana del mar springs to mind first, but there were also irún, hondarribia, orio, getaria, castro urdiales, laredo, llanes, villaviciosa... big towns always offer (too) many choices for a rest day. I particulary liked bilbao where I stopped for an extra day, and donostia.

I toured several museums. in donostia san telmo museoa with its collection of extraordinary basque women headdresses and giant processional statues. in bilbao I loved euskal museoa bilbao (the basque museum) with a beautifully carved medieval cross (with santiago), a prehistoric idol, a closet with men in scallop skirts, and the relief of the whole basque country. in santander I was impressed by the archaeological museum with informative displays and giant round prehistoric (funerary?) stelae.
I missed both caves with paintings - altamira was closed on monday (grrr) and in ribadesella I was too early for tito bustillo.

then there were the churches, their architecture, their portals and their reliefs. I am very fond of medieval reliefs in all sorts of guises, the older the better (read: romanesque, preromanesque and gothic). to mind spring: the vast porch of the zenarruza monastery with its carved eaves and an alquerque game carved in the stone bench, the cloister of santa juliana in santillana del mar with its capital thought to represent exorcism and another capital with a knight returning home. the painted portal of santa maria in deba with the chorus of also female musicians, a lovely representation of nativity, and a fine portait of jesus(?). I loved santa maria del bareyo with it stunningly preserved and very unusual decoration, including a pillar-statue in the apside, grotesques, and a long-horned bovide. the portal of santa maria de la oliva in villaviciosa has a lovely portal with a very fine carved boar hunt and san juan de amandi an unusual round porch. also the huge monoliths in san miguel de arretxinaga at the start of markina. if you can, make a detour via valdediós - preromanesque s salvador is amazing.

too many ideas? ;)
 

amancio

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
Here are a few ideas:

Zarauz or Zumaia are lovely places to stop by the seaside and food is supreme there too!

Bilbao, the most dynamic lively city in all Spain, in my opinion, is worth a stay

In Ribadesella, Asturias, take a day off and arrange a canoeing tryp from Arriondas to Ribadesella, it is downstream all the way, you are in nature, in a beautiful river. IMPORTANT; make sure you bring some money with you, since you will find huts by the riverside where you can buy some food, beer, cider, or whatever, just "park" your canoe on the river banks and do the trip at your own pace, no need a guide or anything. A memorable experience. You will find lots of agencies offering this. They bring you to the starting point by van, they give you a canoe, life jacket and a sealed water proof trunk to bring your belongings. Then, they pick you up at the end of the trip and bring you back to Ribadesella.

Just past Villaviciosa, in Asturias, you can turn left to go inland and see Valdedios monastery, then take the route to Oviedo. Oviedo is a pretty city and worth a long stay. The following day, you can walk to Avilés, or even take a train to Avilés if you prefer, then continue the walk by the coast.

If you like good food and a beautiful town, Luarca, in Asturias, is worth a stay too, in my opinion, by the coast, nice beach too, beautiful marina... a Must. El Barómetro restaurant at the harbor is exceptional.

If you like rural, peaceful landscapes, consider staying one day in beautiful, rural Wiltericus albergue, past Baamonde, in Lugo. Bucolic place, green all around. Miraz would be another possible place to take an easy day off around the same area, no monuments or places to visit, just sheer country life peace.
 

intrepidtraveler

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Caminos Madrid, Frances and Finisterre (2015)
Camino Norte-2017; Camino Ingles from A Coruna - 2017
Ribadesella- the Tito Bustillo Caves with prehistoric cave art. The real thing, not a replica. Be sure to get tickets in advance.

Near Ribadeo, a side trip to As Catedras.
 

erith long

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camin0 Frances (2004, 2008), Camino Portugues (2010), Camino del Norte (2012) Via de la Plata planing April92014), CaminoiPortugues (2015.)
Luarca has a very good Martitime Museum, (Museo Maritimo ) across from the Marina. worth to see the gigant squid
 

shefollowsshells

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Several alone and with children
I'm starting the Norte about Sept 3. I've given myself some extra time for rest and exploration days. Part of the reason I walk a Camino is to take in the cultural aspects of the country side I'm passing through rather than focusing on the kms to get to the end and on this one I'll have that privilege. However, I have been guilty of getting caught up in the herd mentality despite telling myself every time I'm not going to. While I have a couple of places in mind I'd very much appreciate your advice on the locations you did this or locations that you wish you had stayed longer in. I'm planning on sticking to the coastal trail options as much as possible.
Thank you,
Frank
Both Nortes I stopped in Bilbao ...my body just wanted to stop there.
I stayed in the awesome youth hostel there and both times was blessed to get to walk with MendiWalker
from this forum out of Bilbao!!! That was a TREAT!!!!
 

FSP

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(13)
Portuguese & Finisterre(16)
Norte & Muxia(18)
Olvidado&Salvador&Primitivo(20??)
Thank you everyone, some great options.
Frank
 

Llew

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances & Finisterre 2012, Norte, Ingles,Finisterre & Muxia 2015, Australian (2016), Portuguese 2018
Bilbao is a must to stay a day and I would echo those who mentioned the Tito Bustillo caves. The tours were fully booked when 2 of us called in. Said we were pilgrims and they arranged for us to go on a tour. Amazing to see. Llanes is another lovely town with a lot to see.
 

Stephen Park

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte, 2017
VdlP, maybe 2024
Hi Frank. There are lots of good suggestions above that we'd endorse.
We walked the Norte last year. It was simply wonderful. Started 11 Sept, and took just short of 5 weeks from Irun to Santiago. We intentionally took a 'rest day' every week, spending 2 nights wherever we ended up on the Saturday. This gave an opportunity to catch our breath, do laundry, write some old-fashioned post cards etc:
Bilbao - a very pedestrian-friendly city and easy to walk around; riverside wander to the Gugenheim a must-do
Santillana del Mar - very pretty & touristy town, perhaps best to avoid weekend there if possible; agree with others re side-walk to Altamira caves, which we just walked up to & got in no worries!
Gijon - a nicer city than were expecting with really impressive beach (though the walk through the outer fringes of town to Aviles was easily the ugliest section of the Norte for us). We 'cheated' on our day off and caught a bus to Oviedo for the afternoon. That was a very quick & cheap 25 min bus ride. Oviedo a pretty but heavily touristy town; Gijon less so.
Ribadeo - a small, quiet, pleasant city; we took a quick train ride out to the coast (As Catedrais) and walked back to town from there!
At the end we gave ourselves 3 nights in Santiago cause we didn't want to rush things there. Were very pleased we did this because we found we could pace ourselves around the crowds of other peregrinos and tourists, and really enjoyed catching up with folk we'd met on the way, as well going to the Pilgrims' Mass, doing a little shopping, mailing our PacerPoles home, etc.
This really is a fantastic camino Frank. Nowhere near as crowded as the Frances, and through beautiful countryside. We found the Cicerone guide really helpful, along with advice from others along the way.
Buen camino!
 

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