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Virtual planning thread for the Camino Olvidado

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
As promised, today I am starting a planning thread for the Camino Olvidado.

There are many good sources for the Olvidado.

Ender’s guide in English.

The Camino Olvidado website with stages, tracks, and pictures.

This forum’s sub-forum on the Olvidado.

Another Olvidado website, in Spanish, which is connected somehow to Adolfo in Nava de Ordunte, I think (but am not sure). I noticed that Susanna‘s and my feeble attempt at a guide in 2014 is linked on the site, and I think that Adolfo must have been responsible for that.

Ray and Rosa have a section on their website, too.

So it’s pretty clear that this thread will not provide new information, but hopefully it will let individual forum members focus stage by stage to see if and how they can fit their walking preferences to this glorious camino.

And another disclaimer — The Olvidado/Invierno combination is my all time favorite camino. So don’t expect balanced and objective information from this peregrina!

As always, the first task is to get yourself to Bilbao and get oriented. There’s a great airport bus, but of course that’s to be expected since you are in Spain. I don’t believe the tram goes to the airport, but the bus will drop you off at the station if you are going to a place served by the tram. But I just got off at the main stop and crossed the river to get to the old town where my pensión was.

Bilbao, in my mind, is kind of like the Pittsburgh of Spain. Back in the 1970s when I was studying in Spain, it was a place to be avoided — dirty, polluted, industrial. Then came the EU with its money for environmental cleanup, then came the Guggenheim, and voilà, Bilbao was reborn. Just like Pittsburgh! (minus the EU and the Guggenheim). I assume there will be lots of first hand recommendations of where to stay in Bilbao. I have stayed in a couple of places on different caminos.

My two favorites — I like the Pensión de la Fuente for its central location, family run and homey feel. Another very similar place where I’ve stayed a few times is the Iturrienea Ostatua. Both are well located in the old town in old buildings with ancient elevators, creaky wood floors, large clanging metal keys.

There is no shortage of things to do in Bilbao. Walking around the casco histórico, the cathedral, and the late 18th early 19th century gracious modernist neighborhoods (reminiscent of the Serrano area in Madrid, IMO) are all not to be missed. And you really should allow yourself the joy of having pintxos in the old town, as many times as possible. They are AMAZING!!!!!

The Guggenheim, well of course you have to see it, it is on the river and the promenade is one of those unmissible snapshots of Spanish life. Whether you want to go inside is up to you. I have been inside twice, and that’s more than enough for me. The room with a special “sunflowers” exhibit was a series of vases with sunflowers that had been dipped in lead, that pretty well sums it up for me, but then I am not a well educated contemporary art person. The Museo de Bellas Artes is much more my style. It is close to the Guggenheim, and spans a wide range of styles. The link I posted shows you some of the “obras maestras,” most famous works.

So for those of you who are new to this format, what we typically do is invite comments and questions about the post of the day. I will be back in three days to post the first walking stage, but for now we should focus on the beautiful city of Bilbao.

A few self-explanatory pictures. And can I suggest that people post thumbnails? You can click on the thumbnail to enlarge it, but that is a big help for people with slower internet.

Back in a few days with some actual camino walking going on. Buen camino, Laurie

EB06AB17-9AC1-4C44-91EF-62AC638D6490.jpeg EABB7E5B-8865-4223-96FE-2F6E1D7F9BFC.jpeg 7AA11C37-2F85-4EB5-BB6B-9E2EF8325EE5.jpeg 63F8B22C-FA0C-4735-86E9-2D5217B92AD3.jpeg 9D3A6D58-60FA-44BE-96EE-9CAF21067D86.jpeg
 
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Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Wow, I know next to nothing about this route. My contributions will amount to zero!

— The Olvidado/Invierno combination is my all time favorite camino.

Yes, this is my plan once I get my feet back on the Camino. If one reaches Ponferrada, why not continue on the Invierno?

I am very curious about the Olvidado. I hope to see many pictures from the veterans, to see what I am up against on my next Camino...!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
My contributions will amount to zero!
If nothing else, you can liven us up with a few jokes about misbehaved teenagers or busking in Villena (or was it Alicante?) when we get tedious and boring. 🤣

And for those who are thinking that this kind of silly banter will reduce the thread’s ultimate usefulness, what we have done in the past is to go back and “clean it up” (deletion by moderator) when we are all done. That way, we can have silly conversations and enjoy ourselves, without worrying about permanently filling the thread with useless chatter.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
There are limited accommodations at BIO Airport. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express. The hotel is a typical HIE. The hotel had breakfast but no other meals. We had to depart the next morning early so we stayed their overnight. Rooms were spacious clean and comfy. Loved the city ..but we did not have much time to do much so we just mostly walked along the river paths. On my bucket list to return there. Regret we did not have more time in Bilbao..
 
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Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
At the end of my September 2019 camino, I used some airline miles to get a flight home. One of the available routings allowed me to spend a few hours in Bilbao, so I took the chance to acquaint myself with the Bilbao-wow (Jeff Koons “Puppy”) and other things.

To be honest, the most interesting thing about the Guggenheim for me was the Frank Ghery building itself. Lots of interesting angles and perspectives to explore. In the permanent collection are some big, rusty, shapes (Richard Serra “The Matter Of Time”) and some Jeff Koons balloon objects but my young nieces and nephews make equally interesting objects with clay and bricks and whatnot ... Their creations may not dwarf me like the ones in the Guggenheim but the kids have other ways of ensuring that they get my attention.

I had some fancy Pintxos and a glass of wine in a very tastefully decorated bar and reflected on Bilbao’s success at branding itself a cool location for a “city break”.

Also in the city center are a couple of 19th century museums with worthwhile collections of art and artifacts but without the razzle dazzle of the Guggenheim. Some of the strangest curation I’ve ever come across in one of those museums. For some reason they decided to arrange works in rooms based on alphabetical order. (Hence one room had works with titles or artists whose names started with A ... and so on). An idea that should have been rejected at the stage when it was being planned on paper.

Overall, Bilbao was a nice interlude between checking in at SDC and discovering that the airline had neglected to transport my bags at LHR. I think it would be good to spend a day there before setting off. I have a feeling that you might exhaust the possibilities that it offers on day two of a weekend stay. It’s also the only point on this Camino that I know anything about. Looking forward to discovering the rest.
 

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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Some of the strangest curation I’ve ever come across in one of those museums. For some reason they decided to arrange works in rooms based on alphabetical order. (Hence one room had works with titles or artists whose names started with A ... and so on). An idea that should have been rejected at the stage when it was being planned on paper.

🤣 🤣 🤣

I didn’t remember that the Bellas Artes had that weird arrangement. So of course I went to google. Turns out it is a temporary “rearrangement,” lasting from June of 2018 through December 2021. You can see the explanation here. I am not sorry to have missed it, truth be told. The museum is also about to begin a major expansion project, yet it will remain open during that project.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
You can see the explanation here.
That's it! But oh dear. The explanation is exactly what I imagined it would be, and not in a good way.

My memory of the curation was slightly wrong. As the site describes, works from the collection were brought together according to theme words - with one theme word chosen for each letter of the extended alphabet. Frankly, it's lame. I enjoy it when an intelligent curator juxtaposes markedly different works to highlight relationships between ideas, mediums, eras, approaches, etc. But this was sophomoronic nonsense.

It brings to mind the catchline from a series of beer adverts "Well, that's different ... but it's not a hen."

The good news for most post-pandemic pilgrims is that there's a good chance that the collection of the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao will be better displayed after December 2021, notwithstanding the disruption due to the expansion project.
 
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AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Year of past OR future Camino
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
We had a rest day in Bilbao in 2018 while walking the Norte. We had walked 1444 km from Switzerland, via the Gebennensis, the Podiensis and the Voie Nive-Bidassoa.

On our arrival day, we spent a lot of time visiting the cathedral. Free visit and a sello, as we still had our backpacks on our backs, and we looked like pilgrims 😄.
IMG_20180912_113830.jpg IMG_20180912_113006.jpg

One of the first photos I took was of a knife sharpener on his bike.
IMG_20180912_122143~2.jpg

We had had plenty of pintxos on the way to Bilbao, the best ones being in San Sebastian. So we just ate the usual menú del día.
IMG_20180912_143935.jpg

On our rest day we just wandered around, wherever our feet would lead us. We had a peek in the atrium of the Guggenheim, but just walked around it, and crossed the bridge to have a look from the other side.
IMG_20180912_195228.jpg IMG_20180912_200055.jpg IMG_20180912_201744.jpg

The only organised part of our stay in Bilbao was buying replacement shoes. While I was in the shop, I heard bagpipes. Not the Galician type, but definitely a Scottish sound and tune.
IMG_20180912_193102.jpg IMG_20180913_120327.jpg IMG_20180913_131031.jpg
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
@peregrina2000 feel free to delete this in the final version.

I liked the exterior architecture of the Guggenheim but not the interior architecture, for itself or as a medium for displaying the art. The major exhibits at the time of our visit were of Koons and Basquiat. I don't know if they are permanent but I do know that their "stuff" were more curiosities than art. Koon's permanent fixture outside nicknamed Puppy was nice but not art on my mind.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
@peregrina2000 thank you for the accommodation and some ideas of what to do in Bilbao.

My first question is any good tips on where to go to get some food after landing in Bilbao?
Hi, Charlotte,

Bilbao is one of those places where I never bother to write down the names of restaurants because everything is so good. AJ’s post above shows a menu from Marinela, a restaurant which I’ve located on google. It is about a km from the Guggenheim and about 1.5 km from Old Town. It is in a more non-descript part of town, but that menú looks excellent.

Bilbao is a big city, so I wouldn’t cross the city for a meal unless it were something really special. Do you know what part of town you will stay in? I think the Casco Histórico/Old Town is perfect — near the cathedral (starting point), many good restaurants and bars everywhere, and inexpensive clean accommodation.

But maybe others have more specific recommendations?
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I realize that I did not mention the albergues in Bilbao, but Ender’s guide lists three. The municipal (?) or association albergue, on Calle Kobeta, is a bit out of town, but we walked right past it when we started our Olvidado. BUT.... the departure from the city of Bilbao has changed since I walked (more on that tomorrow), so I don’t know if that is still the case.

The other two pilgrim albergues are associated with churches,

Albergue de peregrinos Santa Cruz de Begoña (easy to locate by putting Basílica de Begoña in google maps).

Albergue de peregrinos Claret Enea, Mariaren Bihotza Plaza (also easy to find on google maps).

Both are close to the old town.

Gronze lists many other youth hostels, and I know many forum members enjoy them, but I gave up on them years ago. The risk of all-night partying is just too high, and with a private room costing 25€ smack dab in the old town, I will stick with that.

I will leave it to other forum members to weigh in on more options. In fact, I may post a question in the Norte sub-forum and see if people have ideas or more up to date recommendations than what I see searching the forum.
 

DanielH

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
September 2015 (SJPP to Burgos)
September 2016 (Burgos to Villafranca del Bierzo)
May 2017 (Villafranca del Bierzo to Santiago de Compostela)
Bilbao is one of my favorite cities and I've stayed there coming or going during three separate legs of the Camino Frances. I would recommend staying at the Petit Palace Arana Hotel. It's on the trolley line and near the plaza of shops and restaurants. It's also walking distance to the outdoor market where you will find vendors of various types selling their goods. Further down the walk is the incredible Guggenheim Museum of Art and the gigantic outdoor sculpture of "La Arana" (giant spider). There you will find a restaurant/bar and outdoor musicians.
 
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BombayBill

Still Learning
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I’ve stayed twice in Bilbao while on the Norte. IMHO opinion the best restaurant was not in old town but in the residential districts. My favorite was Restaurante Bilau. And if you want something different stay in a pod at Optimi Rooms.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Many thanks for all the replies regarding food, accommodation and what to do while in Bilbao. My next question would have to be - do people head to the supermarket before starting their walk to stock up on supplies and if so what is their favouvrite food item to buy and where do they go to buy supplies?
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Many thanks for all the replies regarding food, accommodation and what to do while in Bilbao. My next question would have to be - do people head to the supermarket before starting their walk to stock up on supplies and if so what is their favouvrite food item to buy and where do they go to buy supplies?
It depends what I expect the over the following day(s). If I don't expect to pass any open businesses and I'm planning to stay overnight in a place with no services, I'll buy a day's worth of bread, cheese, and something to cook for dinner. If I know that I'll be passing through towns or villages with cafes or shops, I might buy a snack for second breakfast and something for emergencies. I like nuts for snacks. Energy bars are good for emergencies. I imagine that the Olvidado takes us through towns and villages ... but we shall see.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
As promised, today I am starting a planning thread for the Camino Olvidado.
Thanks for doing this. The Olvidado has been on my list for a while now, since you first told me about it in a wine bar in Lisbon! Maybe spring/summer 2022? I'm not much of a detailed planner because I like to be surprised as much as possible while on camino so I probably won't participate in the thread but I'm sure it will be an invaluable resource for the community.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
I'm back...
Just.
In.
Time.
Woo hoo...very happy dance! 🥳

Thank you, Laurie, this tops my list, though I want to join the Olvidado in Aguillar de Campoo from Pamplona via the Viejo. But I'll be tagging along from Bilbao, just to see what I'm missing.
(I am virtually walking the Primativo right now, and may have to pause that to follow along.)
 
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mspath

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
I'm back...
Just.
In.
Time.
Woo hoo...very happy dance! 🥳

Thank you, Laurie, this tops my list, though I want to join the Olvidado in Aguillar de Campoo from Pamplona via the Viejo. But I'll be tagging along from Bilbao, just to see what I'm missing.
(I am virtually walking the Primativo right now, and may have to pause that to follow along.)
VN,
We all are dancing with you! So glad that you are here.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
The only problem I see with implementing these excellent tips is that the second tip emphasizes the “perils of inadequate sleep.” So that seems to create an impossible conundrum for those who sleep in youth hostels. If sleep deprivation “drains glucose in the prefrontal cortex, thereby depleting the fuel needed for self-control,” it seems that I will never achieve the nirvana of self control in youth hostels. 🤣

 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Ok, to celebrate the return of VN, here we go with Day 1!

Day 1. Bilbao to Güeñes, 25 km.

The departure from Bilbao has changed since I walked the Olvidado from Bilbao in 2014. It now continues along the river past the Guggenheim and splits from the Norte when crossing a small tributary at Puente del Diablo. Comparing some wikiloc tracks, I am virtually certain that the new Olvidado route no longer passes in front of the municipal albergue. If you choose to stay in the albergue, though, the old route will get you on the camino within a few kms.

60A20C7B-B13D-4E85-AF8D-E862EF09F799.jpeg

The first day, no matter how many kms you walk, you will be on pavement virtually all day. Pavement extends pretty much the whole way into Balmaseda (about 37 km from Bilbao). It isn’t unpleasant, though, and the camino goes through some very large parks. The path is usually on a bidegorri, the Basque word for a bike/walking path. It is pleasant, flat, nothing too strenuous. Lots of big old stone homes with flower boxes filled with red and pink blooms. No shortage of places for coffee/food.

61D6EE12-9FBE-47CE-863D-B81A6AE4B15C.jpeg 85368BC5-2457-4DBB-A675-1D2B8AE87C91.jpeg
Ender’s tracks. https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/etapa-1-bilbao-guenes-camino-olvidado-18087804

Güeñes
The 25 km option takes you to Güeñes, where there is a hotel. Hotel Erreka. https://hotelguenes.com/. It is a good sized town, with all services.

Report of a single room in 2018 — 38.5€ with breakfast. Yes, prices are higher in País Vasco. Recommended restaurant — Katay. 100 m from hotel, to the left in front of a furniture factory. Menú was 10€ in 2018.

There is an albergue on the outskirts of town, but it is only open to groups, not individual pilgrims. So, just ignore anything you see about it. Albergue Sanxtolo.

The camino passes in front of Güeñes’ very pretty late gothic Santa María church, and it figures in most people’s pictures of the first day’s walk.

97D908B0-14E7-4DCC-A229-9AF5AC90CD5F.jpeg

Alonsotegui/Alonsotegi (latter is Vasco I think)
For those who like shorter stages, Alonsotegui is 11 km out of Bilbao. It has an Agro-Tourism place that looks nice, Agroturismo Ordaola, http://www.ordaola.es/

And if that’s too short a total distance for your first day, it’s easy to add a few kms with some walks in the area after lunch. In fact, some kind person gathered a whole bunch of paseos (strolls, not hikes) near Alonsotegi and you have a lot to choose from.

Pintxos here are excellent, according to Ender and he is a pretty good judge of food.

Balmaseda
For those who like longer stages, Balmaseda is about 12 km beyond Güeñes for a total of 37 km. Hotel Convento San Roque. https://hotelsanroque.es/.

Susana and I stayed there in 2014 so I have no idea on current prices. Susana had a big GPS problem and spent about three hours on the internet in the library and also with Gunnar on the phone, while I did some errands for the two of us and generally enjoyed the town, which is very pleasant. This was my first year carrying a GPS but I kept it buried in my pack and let Susanna take charge with hers. This turned out to have been a mistake a week later when Susanna had to stop walking because of bad blisters. o_O

There is also an albergue juvenil in Balmaseda, info in Ender’s guide.

So that’s Day 1. What do you think?
 

LesBrass

Likes Walking
Year of past OR future Camino
yes...
This is high high high on my list when we are able to travel freely again; I know my husband will love this route... and it's an excuse to return to Bilboa so what's not to love! (thank you!)
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Thanks @peregrina2000, that is a great first day. If I am coping ok then I can do a longer stretch into Guenes and if I need to break myself into Camino life more gently then there is the 11km stop at Alonsotegui. I am also glad to hear there are plenty of food stops along the way.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Many thanks for all the replies regarding food, accommodation and what to do while in Bilbao. My next question would have to be - do people head to the supermarket before starting their walk to stock up on supplies and if so what is their favouvrite food item to buy and where do they go to buy supplies?
Hi, Charlotte,
I am sure you will work out your own routine after a few days on the trail. But here is what works for me. I never eat a real meal while I am walking. And I always try to eat one main meal a day in a restaurant, preferably a late afternoon lunch (since most restaurants serve lunch till 3:30 or 4 it works very well). But I always have three things in my pack — a couple of yoghurts, some fruit, and some nuts. Along with the occasional chocolate bar. ;) I try to avoid the temptation to carry too much food, except on those more remote stages where there are few options for buying and I may not find a restaurant for eating.

I prefer to buy things like nuts and yoghurt in a grocery store (except that the chain Día is one I avoid), but definitely prefer the “frutería” for fruit if there is one available. Generally the produce it sells is heads and shoulders above the chain stores.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Good to know that it will probably be better to have a late lunch and carry some snacks with me. I have seen the Dia chain as I have been wandering around on google street map, is it personal preference that you avoid them or are they not a good shop to use?
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Year of past OR future Camino
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
Woo hoo...very happy dance! 🥳
The slow walkers are joining in that happy dance!

Looking at today's profile, one could say that it is an easy walk, and 25 km is easily achievable. It could, however, be reaching the limit for some slow walkers, my darling included.

@peregrina2000 mentioned that a shorter stage could be achieved by stopping in Alonsotegi. In addition to the Agroturismo Ordaola, the Camino Olvidado website also lists the Albergue Mendizain, or Mendizain Aterpetxea in Basque, but it is out of town.

For the non purists, it is worth also pointing out that most of today's walk is not far from the Bilbao to Balmaseda train line. So one could take a train to, say, Santa Agueda, and thus shave off about 7.7 km from today's walk. The remainder of the day is then walking a little over 17 km. Or if you really wanted to shorten the walk, there is also a train stop, on the same line, at Alonsotegi. The station's name is Irauregui, and the Bilbao to León, as well as the Bilbao to Santander lines also stop here. Then all that is left to walk today is 14.5 km. Here are the Feve line maps, which I found here.
map_bilbao_balmaseda.png map_santander_bilbao.png map_leon_bilbao.png
 

Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Good to know that it will probably be better to have a late lunch and carry some snacks with me. I have seen the Dia chain as I have been wandering around on google street map, is it personal preference that you avoid them or are they not a good shop to use?

Dia is not usually my first choice on the CF. But it really depends on the individual store to some degree. In some towns that is just about all there is.
Looking on google maps there seems to be a lot of Dia supermercados in Bilbao. Some of them seem quite modern and large. I tend to go to Eroski or Corivan or Gadis first. But once you leave the larger cities you may not have many choices.
 
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Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Many thanks for all the replies regarding food, accommodation and what to do while in Bilbao. My next question would have to be - do people head to the supermarket before starting their walk to stock up on supplies and if so what is their favouvrite food item to buy and where do they go to



Anticipatory planning is a necessary and helpful skill in figuring out where and when to stop Charlotte. How I approach my supermarket stops depends on a number of factors. As Raggy suggests, anticipate the next day or two. See what is available ahead of time on your stage and when you arrive. Also consider, if your accommodation has a means of refrigeration and cooking facilities before you buy.

Another factor is your departure time? I leave before any stores are open, so if I need food-for the evening or next day, I buy it when I arrive in the last town with a store near my accommodation. Think ahead, Will you eat breakfast in your albergue, or stop at a cafe or bar on the way somewhere? Some supermarkets in small towns you pass through are closed from around 2-5pm (it varies) so
anticipate store hours. Google maps is usually helpful in this regard.

In the early Spring and Fall months ,when we stay in private rooms, and there is no frig in the room, we discretely hang the yogurt, juice, butter, etc., out a window in a double sealed plastic bag, after dark! However many albergues do allow the use of refrigerators.
 
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peregrina2000

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How does it compare, anyone who's done both?
Much less elevation gain is the main difference, I would say. And more urbanized leaving town. Bilbao is much bigger than Irún, though, so that’s not surprisig. Irún is about 62,000, while one of Bilbao’s “suburbs,” Barakaldo, has more than 100,000. Bilbao proper has about 350,000.

And the real mountain stages are much further away from Bilbao than they are from Irún. You won’t really get into much mountain walking for a week. But there are things to keep you entertained, like huge karst complexes, anthropomorphic tombs, Roman ruins,and some beautiful Romanesque churches.
 

lt56ny

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In 2018 I walked the Norte. Bilbao was a planned rest day and also wanted to go to the Guggenheim Museum. Very tired and happy to arrive at about 4:00PM. I stayed at the Quartier Bilbao Hostel. It was about a mile or so from the museum. I was there two nights. It was a very nice and clean hostel that cost me about 18US a night. The staff was very good. It was very quiet. I wa sin an 8 person room but there were only 3 people both nights in the room. I was there in early October for context. The only problem was that I arrived on a Sunday night and on Monday the Museum was closed. In fact just about every touristy thing you may want to do besides walk in a park was closed. Not sure if there was a holiday. I don't think so because I didn't notice restaurants or shops were closed. Nice city, nice hostel, but big disappointment. Cerrado, Cerrado and more Cerrado!!!!
 
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Raggy

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Monday the Museum was closed. In fact just about every touristy thing you may want to do besides walk in a park was closed. Not sure if there was a holiday. I don't think so because I didn't notice restaurants or shops were closed. Nice city, nice hostel, but big disappointment. Cerrado, Cerrado and more Cerrado!!!!
It is common in some countries for museums and other tourist attractions to operate on Sundays and national holidays, when many people want to visit ... and then to take the following day off. This doesn't apply to all sites but it's something to keep in mind. For this reason, Monday is often not the best day to spend in a city, where you're likely to want to do the touristy things.
By contrast, Sunday is often an ideal day to spend in a city where there's an abundance of things to do, places to eat, and even some open stores, as opposed to on the camino and passing through little towns and villages with shuttered businesses.
That said, I generally don't plan my camino to align with the local culture and commercial customs - I just reach places when I reach them, and roll with it.
 
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Marbe2

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It is common in some countries for museums and other tourist attractions to operate on Sundays and national holidays, when many people want to visit ... and then to take the following day off. This doesn't apply to all sites but it's something to keep in mind. For this reason, Monday is often not the best day to spend in a city, where you're likely to want to do the touristy things.
By contrast, Sunday is often an ideal day to spend in a city where there's an abundance of things to do, places to eat, and even some open stores, as opposed to on the camino and passing through little towns and villages with shuttered businesses.
That said, I generally don't plan my camino to align with the local culture and commercial customs - I just reach places when I reach them, and roll with it.

This may be why on the CF that prices for hotel rooms in cities like Burgos, Leon, and Astorga are significantly higher on weekends. In contrast, some cities in the USA, like The Capitol have lower rates on weekends because business traffic empties out of the city leaving significant capacity available. I try and avoid the cities on the camino on weekends because it can save several hundred dollars if one times it right.
 
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MikeJS

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From my notes in 2019, I wrote - It made a pleasant change to have a choice of places for coffee this morning as I was in the city (Bilbao) ! I followed Enders route along the river until I got to puente del diablo where I saw my first camino signs. Thereafter the route was well marked and it basically followed the river valley to Balmaseda. Overall, it was better than expected as the river was within hearing most of the time and although the first section is a little industrial, most is now defunct with a lot of pre and post 19th century water powered mills and factories. The majority of the walk is on tarmac or concrete and much is on a cycle path - but many sections have been caste in situ with a cobblestone pattern - very uncomfortable. Luckily, despite it being a clear blue sky, much of the path was in shade so I stayed coolish until after 1100. Stoped at Guenes for a free drink - an offer to peregrinos if you complete their online surveys about a potential Albergue (AdP). I stayed at the rather grand hotel San Roque which gave a pilgrim price of 33 euros for a lovely double room.

Those that have seen my camino journeys will know that I tend to like fairly lengthy stages, but I will try and stay in step if and when I can.
P.S. Golf courses are open again now in UK so I am a little occupied!
 
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I found out the hard way that many important things you may be looking forward to seeing are closed on Mondays. It can be a big disappointment to pilgrims who are on a schedule. After being skunked a few times, I finally started checking online for the days and times of operation; most often regarding museums and other attractions with entry fees. As an example, in Santander I visited the Palacio de la Magdalena along the ocean, enjoying the outside grounds first, only to discover the inside was closing in a few more minutes. Had I known, I would have gone inside first thing.
 

lt56ny

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It is common in some countries for museums and other tourist attractions to operate on Sundays and national holidays, when many people want to visit ... and then to take the following day off. This doesn't apply to all sites but it's something to keep in mind. For this reason, Monday is often not the best day to spend in a city, where you're likely to want to do the touristy things.
By contrast, Sunday is often an ideal day to spend in a city where there's an abundance of things to do, places to eat, and even some open stores, as opposed to on the camino and passing through little towns and villages with shuttered businesses.
That said, I generally don't plan my camino to align with the local culture and commercial customs - I just reach places when I reach them, and roll with it.
I have learned through many trips to the continent what you said is so true. I totally agree with you about Camino planning. The less the better. If I had planned I would have a memory of the museum now hahaha.
I know one day I will see it. Thanks and have a good day.
 

lt56ny

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This may be why on the CF that prices for hotel rooms in cities like Burgos, Leon, and Astorga are significantly higher on weekends in these cities. In contrast, some cities in the USA, like The Capitol have lower rates on weekends because business traffic empties out of the city leaving significant capacity available. I try and avoid the cities weekends on a camino because it can save several hundred dollars if one times it right.
That is so true about American Cities. Usually, especially in centrally located hotels in business districts or the hearts of big cities the lowest hotel rates are Friday and Saturday nights.
 

peregrina2000

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Day 2. Güeñes to Nava de Ordunte (22.5) or Villasana de Mena (27.5)

If you’ve slept in Güeñes, you will go through several good sized towns. Zalla at 4 km, (nice looking rural hotel) and Balmaseda is 5 km beyond that. Balmaseda has a very pretty old bridge with tower. In addition to the hotel I mentioned in the last post, it also has an albergue that takes pilgrims. After Balmaseda, believe it or not, the País Vasco ends and the province of Burgos begins. The landscape becomes much less urban, lots of forests, nice dirt paths, and streams. This is not a stage of exceptional scenery, but it is very pleasant. Still not much elevation.

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Nava de Ordunte is small, but it has a bar and restaurant, at least it did pre-Covid. More importantly it is where Adolfo lives. Adolfo has been promoting the Camino Olvidado for years, and was extremely helpful to us when we walked. I called him several times when I was in a pinch, hundreds of kms away, and he was always happy to help. Adolfo’s garage has been converted into an “informal” albergue. It is not listed in Ender’s guide because it is not officially licensed, but if you look at @dick bird ‘s recent Olvidado video, it is shown at about the 10 second mark. Give a big contribution so he can get the licenses he needs to “regularize” it.

Adolfo’s option was not available when we walked, so we walked on to Villasana de Mena, which is about 7 km further, for a total of almost 30 km. These days there is actually a shorter (and marked) way to get to Villasana without going through Nava de Ordunte. (This is all in Ender’s guide).

I give the Villasana de Mena option a 5 ***** rating. Not because the Hotel Foramonteros is so great, though it is fine. But because from Villasana, there is a marked off-road path, frequently alongside a pretty stream, to visit two wonderful Romanesque churches — San Lorenzo (in Vallejo) and Santa María (in Siones). The first is in a little hamlet, and the second stands alone, with a house nearby. Neighbors have the keys — best to call so they know you are coming. These are the phone numbers that worked for me in 2014!

San Lorenzo de Vallejo: Miguel Ángel: 947 126 427 OR 660 23 37 98
Santa María de Siones: Angelines, 947 126 132

Both churches have extremely beautiful apses, capitals, arches, doorways, they are really special. It would have been about a 10 km walk in total, but after visiting the second church in Siones, the skies opened and it began to pour. The “señora with the keys” called a neighbor and he drove me back into town, so I cut the kms in half. However you do it (there are local taxis), it is a real treat.

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peregrina2000

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And here are some comments from @dick bird, which planners will find helpful.

I agree about the Bellas Artes. I went in on the off-chance while strolling around Bilbao. Some interesting, lesser known Spanish painters (e.g. Zuluraga) were featured. For the first day, you actually follow the Norte until just past Devil's Bridge (Puente del Diablo) where the Olvidado forks left. One could therefore argue that the Olvidado begins at this point, rather than in Bilbao. A non-purist might therefore cut the first day a bit shorter by taking the train from Concordia Station to Castrejano, just before the Devil's Bridge and starting there. The Youth Hostel in Gueñes only seems to cater for pre-booked groups (I phoned several times but got no joy) so is not permanently staffed: a hotel in Zalla for the first night seems the only option. In 2019, there was a new albergue under construction just past Scolape, but I very much doubt if it is ready. Adolfo's (it's not an albergue, honest guv, it's just a garage) was a good place for the second night. He doesn't speak a lot of English, but somebody in his family will and if you call, he'll get the idea. A generous donation will help him turn his garage into a legally-registered albergue. Look out for the false arrows just after Irús (head straight on, not right up the hill). For the third night, the lovely Casa Luisa would be the place to stay. A lot Spanish of walkers seem to do bits of the Olvidado, at the weekend so there are a lot of Wikiloc posts in case you get lost.

@dick bird, can you tell us about Adolfo’s “garage albergue?” Where did you eat your meals?
 
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MikeJS

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I will carry on sitting in the Hotel Rural la Casa del Montero where I stayed in Espinosa de los Monteros after Balmesada……. I noted in 2019 that the first few kms after Balmesada were a little dull as it was mostly on main roads. Thereafter is improved, and included some old roman road sections that I always love to see even if they can be a little uncomfortable on the feet. I also noted that I 'Passed what must be a spectacular waterfall, but it was mostly dry today.” Unfortunately, I have no idea where it was! I did note lots of wonderful wild flowers but a distinct lack of yellow arrows in some sections!
 

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peregrina2000

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'Passed what must be a spectacular waterfall, but it was mostly dry today.” Unfortunately, I have no idea where it was!
I believe it is right after Irús. This may actually not be the “spectacular” one, because Ender’s guide has a much nicer picture of one with different levels of rocks with water cascading over. I wrote in my blog that we went past several waterfalls on that stretch after Nava de Ordunte and before Bercedo

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a distinct lack of yellow arrows in some sections!
@dick bird remembers this, too. What I remember was places where the arrows had been intentionally crossed out, and Adolfo told us that there is someone malicious in the vicinity who must get pleasure out of doing this. It sounds like the problem persists, because my first Olvidado was in 2014!
 

AJGuillaume

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Nava de Ordunte is small, but it has a bar and restaurant, at least it did pre-Covid. More importantly it is where Adolfo lives. Adolfo has been promoting the Camino Olvidado for years, and was extremely helpful to us when we walked. I called him several times when I was in a pinch, hundreds of kms away, and he was always happy to help. Adolfo’s garage has been converted into an “informal” albergue.
Knowing that there could be a possibility of stopping in Nava de Ordunte and staying at Adolfo's "informal" albergue gives slow walkers an option on this stage. This is a 22.9 km walk, according to Ender's guide.

I give the Villasana de Mena option a 5 ***** rating. Not because the Hotel Foramonteros is so great, though it is fine. But because from Villasana, there is a marked off-road path, frequently alongside a pretty stream, to visit two wonderful Romanesque churches — San Lorenzo (in Vallejo) and Santa María (in Siones).
I have no doubt that slow walkers who are also aficionados of Romanesque churches would definitely love this option. However, this would entail walking 27.5 km, not something slow walkers would really enjoy, in particular as the profile shows a constant ascent with a nice peak around the 22nd km. There is a way we can make this option more enjoyable:
Zalla at 4 km, (nice looking rural hotel) and Balmaseda is 5 km beyond that. Balmaseda has a very pretty old bridge with tower. In addition to the hotel I mentioned in the last post, it also has an albergue that takes pilgrims.
Ender's guide, and the GPX tracks show it is 12 km from Güeñes to Balmaseda. And as we know there is somewhere we could sleep, we would break this stage here. Then, the next day, we can walk the remaining 15.5 km to Villasana de Mena. In addition to the Hostería Foramontanos, Google maps also show, albeit out of town, the Hotel Don Pablo.

Now I hear you say: with a stop in Balmaseda, one could also walk to Nava de Ordunte, and break that stage into two days. The slow walker is always looking at the stages ahead, and walking from Nava de Ordunte to the end of the next stage is longer by just over 5 km than walking from Villasana de Mena. So Villasana de Mena it will be.
 

peregrina2000

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So good to have another set of eyes on these stages. I know that in real life everyone would sit down and plan out what works best for them, but by the end of this thread we should have some good choices.

it is 12 km from Güeñes to Balmaseda. And as we know there is somewhere we could sleep, we would break this stage here.
So Villasana de Mena it will be.

AJ, that is a great way to break the distances up. Balmaseda is a very nice place for a stop and the hotel (former 17th century convent) is comfortable, with a nice little restaurant in the cloister. It also houses a Holy Week Museum. @MikeJS reported a 33€ double room in 2019, but I think it was single occupancy.

On the outskirts, Balmaseda also has a hat museum in the old hat factory. I now have missed two hat museums in former industrial sites. One is in Sao Joao da Madeira on the Portugués before Porto, and now this one. I am not a mechanical engineer, but I think these places are fascinating. The website reports that you can also visit the workers’ apartments, small chapel, and the elementary school for the workers’ children. That might be a nice way to spend some time in Balmaseda.

The reason I didn’t suggest this is because from Villasana de Mena to Espinosa (the next day) is 28 by the shorter route, which is still a little high. But I think I have found some places in between to shorten it some. More to come.....
 
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peregrina2000

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Day 3. Villasana de Mena to Espinosa de los Monteros (28 km) OR Nava de Ordunte to Espinosa (33 km).

From Nava de Ordunte (aka, Adolfo’s garage), it is 33 km to Espinosa de los Monteros. From Villasana de Mena, it is 28. The two “branches” join up at the Taranco chapel right outside Ordejón de Mena. If you leave directly from Villasana de Mena, you will miss the reservoir, which is pretty and shaded, but not something to re-work your schedule around.

In 2014, the option from Villasana de Mena direct to the Taranco Chapel was not shown, so we took a taxi back to Nava, where we met Adolfo. He walked with us to Bercedo, which was quite a treat. But as always happens when someone else is leading the way, my memory of the trail specifics are much foggier than my memory of the conversation and carmaraderie we enjoyed. In Bercedo there is a panadería whose troncos (bread stuffed with chorizo) have regional fame. Adolfo insisted we have some, but I remember thinking that the empanadas and some of the sweets looked just as appealing. Adolfo left us in Bercedo, and we continued on to the pretty town of Espinosa de los Monteros. From Bercedo to Espinosa is flat and sunny, and off road, but that’s about all I remember.


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Espinosa de los Monteros
We stayed in the very nice Hostal Sancho García, which is the place recommended by Adolfo. We had a room facing onto the plaza mayor with a balcony, so we had a nice front row seat for the band playing and folkloric dancing going on that night. Also a nice spot to eat our troncos. Ender’s guide lists several other places to stay, including an albergue juvenil.

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Staying near Bercedo
For those who like shorter distances, about 3 km from Bercedo is a Hotel Rural Valtarranz . It is in a town called Noceco. That would give you about a 18 km day from Villasana de Mena to Bercedo, and about 23 from Nava de Ordunte. I have received a note from the owners, who say they are happy to pick peregrinos up in Bercedo or any other reasonable place. But even without that pick-up option, it would leave the day’s total from Villasana at 21.

Also, if you have slept in Villasana, taking a taxi out to one of the several towns along the way is an option. You have towns at 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 12, and 18 km out from Villasana. Or you could also walk to Bercedo and call a taxi in Espinosa, which would reduce the total to about 18.
 
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AJGuillaume

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Preparing for this stage, I scanned all the pueblos along the way, looking for accommodation. Just north of Irús, which is 11.9 km from Villasana de Mena, Google map shows a Hospedería Foramontanos. It looks like it has the right street name and number, but it is definitely in the wrong pueblo. 🤨
Irus.png

Staying near Bercedo
For those who like shorter distances, about 3 km from Bercedo is a Hotel Rural .
That would give you about a 18 km day from Villasana de Mena to Bercedo, and about 23 from Nava de Ordunte. I have written to see if the owners would be willing to pick you up in Bercedo, but even without that option, it would leave the day’s total from Villasana at 21.
That Hotel Rural could be an option for slow walkers.

If the owner didn't offer a pick up service, we could continue to Villasante, which is also 21 km from Villasana de Mena. Ender's guide and Google maps show an Albergue Casa Luisa. However, it isn't listed in the Camino Olvidado's website. So hopefully it is there when we walk in real life.

From the Hotel Rural in Bercedo, it would be a further 13.5 km to Espinosa de los Monteros. From Villasante it would be 7 km. Very short days, but it would suit slow walkers... ;)

Espinosa de los Monteros
We stayed in the very nice Hostal Sancho García, which is the place recommended by Adolfo. We had a room facing onto the plaza mayor with a balcony, so we had a nice front row seat for the band playing and folkloric dancing going on that night. Also a nice spot to eat our troncos. Ender’s guide lists several other places to stay, including an albergue juvenil.
Personal recommendations are always good.

Also, if you have slept in Villasana, taking a taxi out to one of the several towns along the way is an option. You have towns at 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 12, and 18 km out from Villasana. Or you could also walk to Bercedo and call a taxi in Espinosa, which would reduce the total to about 18.
Yes, the taxi is always an option, and there are a few options in Villasana de Mena as well as Espinosa de los Monteros. We're not purists 😄, so we would probably walk as far as my darling can, and then call a taxi from Espinosa.
 

peregrina2000

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Just north of Irús, which is 11.9 km from Villasana de Mena, Google map shows a Hospedería Foramontanos. It looks like it has the right street name and number, but it is definitely in the wrong pueblo. 🤨
I can’t imagine there are two places named Hospedería Foramontanos so close to each other, and that was the name of our place in Villasana de Mena. So unless they have an annex near Irús, I think it is a mistake.

we could continue to Villasante, which is also 21 km from Villasana de Mena. Ender's guide and Google maps show an Albergue Casa Luisa.

I think it is likely the case that the Casa Luisa is a CR that offers pilgrims place to stay. I have found enough additional sources on the web that describe it, so I think you can be confident about the option. This one was curious because it posted two separate numbers, one for the albergue, one for Casa Luisa. And indicates two bars, so pilgrims won’t go hungry!

VILLASANTE DE MENA
Albergue : Tfno: 626825930 (se recomienda llamar el día antes)
Casa Luisa : Tfno.642761491
2bares

For those who read Spanish, I don’t think I included this website in the first post. It is well organized and has a ton of information — separate sections on stages, art, fiestas, natural sites, food.... There may not be many pilgrims on the Olvidado, but there is an abundance of information about the route! I can confirm that this website is live and active (always frustrating not to know the dates things were posted), because there are entries on activities during covid. The author of the website also gives his name and email address, and I would not hesitate to contact him with any questions.

Jacinto Prada Baro
jacinto.prada@gmail.com

AJ, if you are so inclined, I think that at the end of the thread, it would be great if you could post your proposed short stages in one message. Not to jump ahead, but in the next stage, for example, I have found an option for staying at about 9 km after Espinosa, which would give you a 20 km day from Villasante. It’s hard to juggle all these different distances that cut across the “normal” stages, but it’s fun trying to ferret out the options!
 

AJGuillaume

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I can’t imagine there are two places named Hospedería Foramontanos so close to each other, and that was the name of our place in Villasana de Mena. So unless they have an annex near Irús, I think it is a mistake.
Definitely a mistake! When using the street view option, one can see that there is no signage for accommodation. I am inclined to let Google know that this is incorrect.

For those who read Spanish, I don’t think I included this website in the first post. It is well organized and has a ton of information — separate sections on stages, art, fiestas, natural sites, food....
A very good website, and it also has information about a branch of the Olvidado coming from Pamplona! Thank you @peregrina2000 !!

AJ, if you are so inclined, I think that at the end of the thread, it would be great if you could post your proposed short stages in one message.
Good idea!

Not to jump ahead, but in the next stage, for example, I have found an option for staying at about 9 km after Espinosa, which would give you a 20 km day from Villasante.
We're on the same page, @peregrina2000 , ☺️. Although in this case, it looks like my darling likes the idea of a few short days, and we could still stop in Espinosa.
 

peregrina2000

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about a branch of the Olvidado coming from Pamplona!
That is what VN dubbed the Camino Viejo. @VN led a GREAT planning thread last year. It led me to conclude that if Spain opens up this fall, I will probably try to walk from Pamplona to Aguilar, where the Viejo joins up with the Olvidado.

we could still stop in Espinosa.
Espinosa is a very nice little place, so that would not be a bad idea at all.

We make a great team, AJ — you, VN and I should offer stage planning services for anyone wanting to walk any camino at any speed. Detours to romanesque churches, Roman ruins, and natural wonders included free of chargs. ;)
 
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AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Year of past OR future Camino
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
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That is what VN dubbed the Camino Viejo. @VN led a GREAT planning threadlast year.
I thought I recognised the Camino. The name confused me. Thank you @VNwalking !

It led me to conclude that if Spain opens up this fall, I will probably try to walk from Pamplona to Aguilar, where the Viejo joins up with the Olvidado.
I'd be following you from our closed borders, dreaming I'm walking... :confused:

We make a great team, AJ — you, VN and I should offer stage planning services for anyone wanting to walk any camino at any speed.
Aaw, thanks @peregrina2000 . I think that I need to walk some more Caminos to make the team... ;)
 
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A very good website, and it also has information about a branch of the Olvidado coming from Pamplona!
OMG!
How'd I miss this?
The page with websites is a particular goldmine.

That is what VN dubbed the Camino Viejo
I can take no credit for that; it's a name that's been out there, apparantly for some time.
Thank you, Laurie, for the very kind words. It had the same effect on me: doing that put the route squarely on the top of my list.

I think that I need to walk some more Caminos to make the team... ;)
No way. You're already on the first bench, AJ.

Detours to romanesque churches, Roman ruins, and natural wonders included free of chargs.
Haha. Yes. Unapologetically raving about such things.
 

peregrina2000

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I can take no credit for that; it's a name that's been out there, apparantly for some time.
Yes, I should make clear that this is not our own little forum invention. If people are interested in walking from Pamplona to Aguilar de Campoó, searching for the Camino Viejo is going to bring up a lot of resources beyond VN’s great thread. Some call it the Pamplona branch of the Olvidado, but I like the clarity of having Bilbao to Cacabelos/Ponferrada with the name Olvidado, and Pamplona to Aguilar where it joins the Olvidado called the Viejo. But no one put me in charge of nomenclature, so you will likely find overlapping and contradictory references.

You can be sure, though, that Camino Olvidado and Camino Viejo are two terms that will get you to the right area of Spain.
 
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Kanga

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I am very determinedly ignoring this thread so that when I walk the Olvidado it will all be a delightful surprise. But I'd be very grateful if at the end a combined document could be produced and put in the resources section, so that I can use it.
 

peregrina2000

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Day 4. Espinosa de los Monteros to Pedrosa de Valdeporres (25-26 km)

This day on the Camino is almost all off road, through a few small towns and a beautiful natural area. There is one ascent of about 200 m to a great view, with a stretch on the Via Verde made out of the now abandoned Santander-to-the-Meditrranean train line project. Begun in 1879, but never completed, the work was halted definitively in 1959. To tell the truth, the day seemed longer than 25-26, but I can’t point to any one specific difficulty. It is a very pretty walk. Ender’s guide notes that you can make the day a bit shorter by taking a forest route instead of the route on the abandoned railway. This split happes in the town of Entrambosríos and is marked.

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We spent the night in Pedrosa de Valdeporres, about .8 km before Santelices with its albergue in a train station.

We stayed in Hotel Rural La Engaña, double room was 55€. Truth be told, it was not a great price/quality ratio, but hey. A Spanish woman and her British husband operate the facility and also provide English immersion courses.

Probably the highlight of the day was walking through the natural area called Ojo Güareña. If I were to walk this way again, this is where I would mix things up a bit. It is described as a “karst complex.” Wikipedia describes an area filled with tunnels carved out of soluble rocks by underground water, 90 km of tunnels no less. Archaeological research reveals that the caves were inhabited hundreds of thousands of years ago, dating back to middle Paleolithic times. It includes the largest cave in Spain, which has rock paintings dating back at least 13,000 years. The Camino goes through a very pretty and forested area, and past some of the medieval anthropomorphic tombs.

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But what it doesn’t do is take you to the Ermite de San Bernabé, which is a mere 2.1 km off the camino from the village of Quisicedo. It is a 10-12 century ermita, adjacent to a huge cave that is also open for visits. The most recent info I saw reported that it had re-opened and that guided tours take 45 minutes and cost 4€. Its setting reminded me a bit of the romanesque church in the Cañon de Río Lobos on the Camino Castellano-Aragonés. And that was just stunning. This may be more heavily touristed, which can interrupt the vibe a bit, but I think it would be a very nice visit.

So I would be tempted to take a day here, to see the ermita and to enjoy more of the natural beauty. Hotel Prado Mayor is in Quintanilla del Rebolar, which is right on the camino, a few kms from Quisicedo.

A video about Ojo Güareña, focusing on the natural beauty and wildlife (particuarly birds).

Good pictures of the ermita and adjacent cave.
 
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MikeJS

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Year of past OR future Camino
Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
I walked from Espinosa to Soncillo ( about 30 kms) Most of the way was on very rural tracks with the limestone escarpments dominant to the south. The track was a little muddy in places and parts would be very difficult in the rain. However, the markings were excellent, although the odd one was a little faded ( see photo ) although easy to follow. Unusually, I had a coffee at the start of the day and stopped half way in Quisicedo at a great bar for another coffee and a mid morning snack. Had what was the best ‘crackling’ I have ever had and a pincho of Serrano ham with stuffed pepper. Yum yum. I stayed at Hotel El Capricho de Clemente which has very large rooms and was charge 35 euros half board.
 

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Year of past OR future Camino
2019
This is a really interesting area, with a number of natural parks.
So I would be tempted to take a day here, to see the ermita and to enjoy more of the natural beauty. Hotel Prado Mayor is in Quintanilla del Rebolar, which is right on the camino, a few kms from Quisicedo.
Ditto!

Looking for a website I vagely remembered, I found this one instead. It's a pretty amazing site, full of all sorts of other information, too. Laurie, don't look at the page with Romanesque churches🙃...

From the Viejo planning thread (sorry, it won't let me quote):
well North of the Viejo – closer to the Olvidado proper – is the huge cave system and hermitage of Ojo Guareña, which is close to the route of the ‘regular’ Olvidado from Bilbao:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ojo_Guareña
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...quisicedo-that-may-be-of-your-interest.37352/

This is also worth a look in the same general area, a beautiful walk described in the blog that Laurie posted about while ago:
https://yendoporlavida.com/2019/11/14/ruta-el-ventanon-de-sotoscueva-desde-ojo-guarena/)
 
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AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Year of past OR future Camino
Via Gebennensis (2018)
Via Podiensis (2018)
Voie Nive Bidassoa (2018)
Camino Del Norte (2018)
There are a number of options for slow walkers to break this stage. Yes, they do seem short walking days, with most peregrin@s putting a 25 km day into the short day category, but a darling slow walker I know appreciates even shorter days.

The first option was alluded to earlier:
Not to jump ahead, but in the next stage, for example, I have found an option for staying at about 9 km after Espinosa, which would give you a 20 km day from Villasante.
In Quintanilla del Rebollar, we'll find the Posada El Prado Mayor. It's only 8.9 km from Espinosa de los Monteros, and it leaves us with a 16 km walk to Santelices.

Just 5.6 km further, at Villavascones, we can stay at the Casa Guareña, and the next day walk 10.4 km to Santelices.

What I like with these options is that we can indulge in the detour to the Ermita de San Bernabé, and we can spend as much time as we want enjoying the visit, as well as appreciate the natural beauty of the Ojo Güareña.

It's also nice to know we can choose to stop at Pedrosa de Valdeporres.

EDIT: looking through the Viejo Camino Olvidado website suggested by @peregrina2000 , I noticed that there is a third option, with the Casa Rural Goiko in Quisicedo. However, it looks like it is only available as Alojamiento entero.

When we finally walk in real life, we are definitely detouring to the Ermita de San Bernabé and the caves:
 
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peregrina2000

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When we finally walk in real life, we are definitely detouring to the Ermita de San Bernabé and the caves:
That’s my idea as well. For me, one of the real benefits of these virtual threads is that they allow for exploration to find amazing things that are only a stone’s throw off camino. I ask myself — how did I walk through the Ojo Güareña without knowing about its treasures???!!! That cave and ermita were exactly 2.2 km away. I’m sure that in real life I won’t be able to make it to all these places, but knowing where and what they are makes it much easier to make decisions on the ground.
 

peregrina2000

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Day 5. Pedrosa/Santelices to Arija (27-28 km)

Another pleasant day, nice scenery (one ascent with about 200 m elevation, mostly through green tunnels) some nice open field walking. Nothing spectacular but very comfortable, and a bit of road walking thrown in.

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Arija is probably my least favorite place on the Olvidado, but that’s just me. The original city was flooded to make the dam that created the reservoir of the Ebro. So what is there now is an “upper town,” newly created after the dam, and the “new lower town” created next to the water. A woman in the pharmacy in the upper town told me they flooded 400 houses, 8 churches, 2 chapels and a glass factory that made glass in the traditional artisanal way. Though the “upper town” is mostly newly built, I remember that the ayuntamiento seemed to be several centries old, so I am not sure whether they transported it up from below before the flooding or what the story is. The nucleus around the reservoir has the same feeling as the Embalse de Alcántara on the Vdlp, though it has more commerce.

There is/was an albergue in Arija (google maps tells me it is permanently closed), but we stayed in Hotel Rural la Piedra. My notes tell me it was 46€ for both with breakfast.

There is a little grocery store down by the water. Since the hotel dining room didn’t open till 9, we went to the store to buy some food. I asked if we could get an extra plastic bag so we would have two “plates” for our meal. The little girl whispered something to her mother, then came back a few minutes later with some birthday party plates left over from her 9th birthday party.

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A very short stage of about 8 km could be had with a stop in Soncillo at the Hotel el Capricho de Clemente. MikeJS has good reports. (And for those who like long stages, it looks like about a 35 km day starting in Pedrosa).

6.5 km beyond Soncillo would take you to Cilleruelo de Bezana with two hostals, the Hostal Monica, or Hostal el Escudo. That’s hitting AJ’s goal of 15 almost right on the nose.

There may be other options, but these seemed most logical. And I think some might want to stage it so that they avoid Arija and go further on the next day, where there are other possibilities.
 
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alansykes

Veteran Member
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Except the Francés
Arija is probably my least favorite place on the Olvidado, but that’s just me.
I agree. But I did like its beach on the reservoir, with lovely views westward towards the Picos de Europa. The disadvantage of the beach was that it sloped very gradually so it takes 50 yards or more to get out of your depth. I got some slightly strange reactions from walkers who I don't think see many swimmers there in November. One came up to me when I got out of the water and asked "¿Eres Inglés?" as being the only likely explanation.
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AJGuillaume

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A very short stage of about 8 km could be had with a stop in Soncillo at the Hotel el Capricho de Clemente. MikeJS has good reports. (And for those who like long stages, it looks like about a 35 km day starting in Pedrosa).
Assuming we start from Pedrosa de Valdeporres, we have a short day indeed with a 9 km walk. Consider, however, that we then have 17.6 km to walk from there to Arija.

6.5 km beyond Soncillo would take you to Cilleruelo de Bezana with two hostals, the Hostal Monica, or Hostal el Escudo. That’s hitting AJ’s goal of 15 almost right on the nose.
Right on the nose! And this actually gives a (slightly) better balance for the two days, with 11 km to Arija.
In addition to the two hostals, there is also an Albergue Turistico Cilleruelo de Bezana.

There may be other options, but these seemed most logical. And I think some might want to stage it so that they avoid Arija and go further on the next day, where there are other possibilities.
I couldn't find any other worthwhile options, but given that Arija seems to be unattractive, except for the beach frequented by English pilgrims ;), an even better balance for the two days is to continue to Llano, and that gives us a first day with 15.6 km, and a second one with 14.6 km. My slow walking darling approves ☺️.
 

peregrina2000

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Staff member
And I forgot to post a link to an older thread that I just came across. It’s one I put together after an Olvidado Zoom. The goal was to give shorter stages, so it may be helpful. Just another way to cut and slice and rearrange stages.

The real take-away is that it is indeed possible to walk short stages on the Olvidado, but it requires flexibility, money, and lots of time!
 

peregrina2000

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That Hotel Rural could be an option for slow walkers.

If the owner didn't offer a pick up service, we could continue to Villasante,
Here is a follow up about the Hotel Rural Valtarrantz in Noceco, 3 km off-Camino from Bercedo. They have responded to my inquiry, and are happy to pick up peregrinos in Bercedo or elsewhere, no problem. They were very nice.

See posts 51 and 52.
 

peregrina2000

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Day 6. Arija to Olea (32.5 km)

(I know this is a long stage, and I include my suggestions for breaking it up further down in the post).

Once you leave Arija, you have entered Cantabria and left Burgos behind. The approximately 18 kms to Villafría, which go along the reservoir, are all on the side o the road. For those who go to great lengths to avoid pavement, I was able to walk on the side on a dirt shoulder. The road is very untraveled but cars go fast between the pueblos. About 7 km along the reservoir edge, at Villanueva de las Rozas, you will see the tower of a church that was submerged to make the reservoir. There is a walkway out to the tower, and an opening that suggests you can climb the tower, but we didn’t go out. It was too forlorn looking for me.

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After Villafría, I don’t think there’s any pavement at all, or very little. There were two highlights — the Roman ruins of Juliobriga, with a museum. We did not visit the museum, but enjoyed walking around and especially climbing the bell tower of the adjacent church overlooking the ruins.


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From the ruins, the Camino goes up through a beech forest, about 200 m to the Peña Cutral. I remember some confusion on the top of a hill, and the GPS came to the rescue. And then there’s a descent to the spectaclar highlight of the day — the Romanesque church at Baños de Cervatos. Another Romanesque jewel, San Pedro. A good number of the capitals and corbels are erotic, though the purpose is still debated by art historians. For a sampling of the possible theories, see this article in El País. I only include G-rated pictures. ;)
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From the church to Olea is pretty straightforward, and I remember walking through some nice orchards and fields, but nothing really jumps out at me.
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We stayed, as many peregrinos do, at the Casa Miguel. It’s a vacation complex of sorts, with very nicely equipped apartments. We paid 15€ each and had a very relaxing evening. The owners are generous and friendly — they and their friends insisted we sit outside with them for a few tapas and drinks. They wanted us to stay for the barbeque, but that would have kept us up way past pilgrim bedtime. They have also assured me in a recent Whatsapp exchange that they are happy to pick people up “sea donde sea” (wherever that may be).

Shorter options
There are a couple of ways to break this stage up, but I will leave it to AJ for the final plan! There is one hotel in Arroyo, about 11 km from Arija. If you stopped short of Arija on the previous day, by staying in Cilleruelo de Bezana, the Hostal La Lobera in Arroyo might be a good choice. It would be a 21 km day from Cilleruelo to Arroyo. From Arroyo to Olea the next day would be about 20 km.

The other option would be to go off camino to Reinosa, which is a big town and has a lot of sleeping options, ranging from the basic Hostal Tajahierro to some nicer digs like a 3*** Hotel San Roque or the Apartamentos Ebro. Looks like it has a nice old core. Reinosa is 4.5 km from Villafría. If you started in Arija, that would put your day’s total at about 25 km. The next day, there is no need to return to Villafría. You can take a minor road directly to the Roman ruins at Juliobriga, and then continue to Olea, for a day of about 15 km. Reinosa has taxis, too!

Buen camino, Laurie
 
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alansykes

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enjoyed walking around and especially climbing the bell tower of the adjacent church overlooking the ruins.
I loved that romanesque church (Santa María de Retortillo), largely built with recycled Roman stone. Especially impressive, I thought, was the tympanum over the southern doorway: a griffin and a lion with their legs entwined holding up a cross with two angels looking on. And a rare external staircase up to the tower. Sadly it was closed when I passed by, as apparently the internal capitals are spectacular (although not as pornographic as San Pedro de Cervatos).

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peregrina2000

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Sadly it was closed when I passed by, as apparently the internal capitals are spectacular

Wow! Look at the photos of some of the interior capitals. The descriptions are very interesting — one capital shows a chain mailed Christian caballero fighting a Moor, while another shows two Christian knights fighting each other with a woman stepping in to stop the fighting. The message being — let’s stop the internal fights and unite against the real enemy.

The Cantabrian Tourism website gives this number as a contact person to visit the church. 942 840 317. That would be high on my list if I ever get back there — I have done this a number of times, both while walking and while touring, and (knock on wood) I have always been lucky to get in to similar gems.
 

AJGuillaume

Pèlerin du monde
Year of past OR future Camino
Via Gebennensis (2018)
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There are a couple of ways to break this stage up, but I will leave it to AJ for the final plan!
Oh dear, a lot of responsibility for the slow walkers ;)

From Arija to Olea, I have listed the following places to sleep:
- in Llano, 3.6 km from Arija, there is the Hotel Araz
- near Villanueva de las Rozas, 7.5 km from Arija, Google maps shows a casa rural (?) El Mirador del Ebro
- in Arroyo, 11.4 km from Arija, there used to be an albergue (Albergue Rumbo Ebro), but it appears to be permanenty closed, and there is the Posada La Lobera
- near Retortillo, 19.6 km from Arija, and 16 km from Llano, about 700 m off the Camino on the way to Villafría, or about 700 m from Retortillo, there is the Posada Julióbriga. It is listed on the caminoolvidado.com website, but it appears to be available on an "alquiler integro" basis, but I assume that rooms might be available.

From Arija, Arroyo looks indeed like a good option, breaking the stage into two days, one of 11.4 km, the other 19.6 km.

If, like us, you may have stopped in Llano, then the first day is 7.8 km followed by 19.6 km. If we were able to get a room at the Posada Julióbriga in Retortillo, then the stage from Llano would be 16 km, followed by a walk of 11.4 km. Slightly more balanced.

Both Arroyo and Villanueva de Las Rozas are on the Feve line between Bilbao and Léon. That could also give an option for the non-purists to reduce the walk by about 9 km, leaving a 22 km day.

The other option would be to go off camino to Reinosa, which is a big town and has a lot of sleeping options, ranging from the basic Hostal Tajahierro to some nicer digs like a 3*** Hotel San Roque or the Apartamentos Ebro. Looks like it has a nice old core. Reinosa is 4.5 km from Villafría. If you started in Arija, that would put your day’s total at about 25 km.
Reinosa becomes a real option for slow walkers if one stays in Llano, as the day's total is then 19.3 km.
And:
which is always an option towards the end of the day.

The next day, there is no need to return to Villafría. You can take a minor road directly to the Roman ruins at Juliobriga, and then continue to Olea, for a day of about 15 km.
From Reinosa to Olea, it looks like we might have a day with many highlights. First the Roman ruins, then:
I loved that romanesque church (Santa María de Retortillo), largely built with recycled Roman stone. Especially impressive, I thought, was the tympanum over the southern doorway: a griffin and a lion with their legs entwined holding up a cross with two angels looking on.
followed by:
And then there’s a descent to the spectacular highlight of the day — the Romanesque church at Baños de Cervatos.
Slow walkers who love Romanesque will not feel the distance!☺️

 

MikeJS

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This is good as we have caught up again! I walked from Soncillo to Olea (49kms)
It was not the day I thought I had planned. There was much talk in the bar the previous night of heavy rain and thunder storms for this day. It rain hard overnight, but was clear in the morning. I had planned to walk to Arroyo and stay at La Lobera. As it was only about 28 km I decided to just walk quickly and then I should miss most of the storms. I stopped at Arija for a coffee and pincho and was well ahead of my time. Also the sky still looked clear with no signs of storms. I walked on and soon realised I would be at La Lobera around 1300 which is much earlier than I like to stop. I looked at the alternatives and Olea seemed the only option with accommodation but was not sure about walking another 20 ish kms. Got to La Lobera at just after 1300 having decided to stay there after all. However, I was told a room would not be ready for at least 2 hours. I checked the rain radar I could still see no signs of any thunderstorms and as I did not want to sit around for more than 2 hours I apologised and explained I would be leaving. Hence, I ended up on Olea. This made the next day’s walk easier as now I only have 24kms over the hills to Aguilar. However, having not intended to be at Casa Miguel's in Olea I arrive with nothing but emergency rations. Miguel solved this by taking me to his friends restaurant - only about 0.5kms away - that was closed (Miguel said it did not matter!), who supplied me with a wonderful prawn and fish take away plus a cold beer and vino tinto. What more could I want? As for the walk itself - it was a very pleasant day with mostly rural scenery. Lots of tarmac but surprisingly plenty of wild life, including deer, foxes, hedgehogs, snakes and a colourful lizard as well a a few semi wild horses. The scenery was very interesting and the Ebro reservoir is in view for most of the day. The last few kms included a couple of hills just to extend the exercise. Most surprisingly there were 2 other Spanish peregrinos here walking the Olviado. After I settled in, Miguel invited the 3 of us to his Bodega and what a wonderful treat that was.
 

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dick bird

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Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
And here are some comments from @dick bird, which planners will find helpful.

I agree about the Bellas Artes. I went in on the off-chance while strolling around Bilbao. Some interesting, lesser known Spanish painters (e.g. Zuluraga) were featured. For the first day, you actually follow the Norte until just past Devil's Bridge (Puente del Diablo) where the Olvidado forks left. One could therefore argue that the Olvidado begins at this point, rather than in Bilbao. A non-purist might therefore cut the first day a bit shorter by taking the train from Concordia Station to Castrejano, just before the Devil's Bridge and starting there. The Youth Hostel in Gueñes only seems to cater for pre-booked groups (I phoned several times but got no joy) so is not permanently staffed: a hotel in Zalla for the first night seems the only option. In 2019, there was a new albergue under construction just past Scolape, but I very much doubt if it is ready. Adolfo's (it's not an albergue, honest guv, it's just a garage) was a good place for the second night. He doesn't speak a lot of English, but somebody in his family will and if you call, he'll get the idea. A generous donation will help him turn his garage into a legally-registered albergue. Look out for the false arrows just after Irús (head straight on, not right up the hill). For the third night, the lovely Casa Luisa would be the place to stay. A lot Spanish of walkers seem to do bits of the Olvidado, at the weekend so there are a lot of Wikiloc posts in case you get lost.

@dick bird, can you tell us about Adolfo’s “garage albergue?” Where did you eat your meals?
Adolfo is not, officially, running an albergue. This is because you have to get a permit/planning permission to run any kind of enterprise that provides accommodation, and Adolfo does not have the necessary paperwork. However, there are ways and means, and if you, (or rather Adolfo) as a private citizen and well disposed to your fellows, decide to let casual acquaintances crash the night in your garage which just happens to have bunk beds, cooking facilities, bathrooms and comfy armchairs, is this such a crime? Adolfo welcomes pilgrims and would like to open up an officially sanctioned, legal, donativo albergue one day. In the meantime, feel free to contact him to ask to stay and then leave some money to help him realise his dream. There is a nice bar/restaurant in Nava de Orduntes, just over the bridge across the river. I think it would help reconcile the neighbours to Adolfo's to eat there which is what we did, or you could cook in Adolfo's garage.
 
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To throw another option into the ring at this point: the Camino De Las Asturias follows the northern side of the reservoir. Here are two Wikiloc screen shots:
Screenshot_20210412-165921_Wikiloc.jpg Screenshot_20210412-165843_Wikiloc.jpg

I don't know if that is easier for short stages or not, but it's something to consider. Those of you with more facility on Wikiloc and a functioning computer will be able to figure that out more easily than I (doing this all on my phone... 😖)

Edit - OSMand says there is accommodation at Corconte (20km from Pedrosa), Lanchares (8.2km past Corconte), and Servillas (a further 4.7km). From there it is 17.1km to Reinosa. Much of the way is meandering and not paved.

Edit edit...here is an OSMand screenshot (following message):
 
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dick bird

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Can I make what might sound like a pedantic, anti-yankee request, but really, please, it isn't. Please be really careful with the word 'pavement'. It took me a long time to realise that this is not an example of where things have a different name in different English-speaking countries (e.g. spanner/wrench, tap/faucet) - it is a word that is frequently used but with a very different meaning. For North Americans, 'pavement' means road surface. For the rest of us (UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand etc) it means 'a raised area at the side of the road to allow pedestrians to walk safely', in other words, 'sidewalk'. To be told that the next 6 kilometres is on 'pavement' only to find yourself walking, not along a sidewalk, but along the edge of a busy road is confusing, to say the least, not to mention potentially dangerous. Could we say 'hard surface' or (asphalt, or tarmac)? Then we all know what to expect.
 

dick bird

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Ok, to celebrate the return of VN, here we go with Day 1!

Day 1. Bilbao to Güeñes, 25 km.

The departure from Bilbao has changed since I walked the Olvidado from Bilbao in 2014. It now continues along the river past the Guggenheim and splits from the Norte when crossing a small tributary at Puente del Diablo. Comparing some wikiloc tracks, I am virtually certain that the new Olvidado route no longer passes in front of the municipal albergue. If you choose to stay in the albergue, though, the old route will get you on the camino within a few kms.

View attachment 96724

The first day, no matter how many kms you walk, you will be on pavement virtually all day. Pavement extends pretty much the whole way into Balmaseda (about 37 km from Bilbao). It isn’t unpleasant, though, and the camino goes through some very large parks. The path is usually on a bidegorri, the Basque word for a bike/walking path. It is pleasant, flat, nothing too strenuous. Lots of big old stone homes with flower boxes filled with red and pink blooms. No shortage of places for coffee/food.

View attachment 96723 View attachment 96726
Ender’s tracks. https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/etapa-1-bilbao-guenes-camino-olvidado-18087804

Güeñes
The 25 km option takes you to Güeñes, where there is a hotel. Hotel Erreka. https://hotelguenes.com/. It is a good sized town, with all services.

Report of a single room in 2018 — 38.5€ with breakfast. Yes, prices are higher in País Vasco. Recommended restaurant — Katay. 100 m from hotel, to the left in front of a furniture factory. Menú was 10€ in 2018.

There is an albergue on the outskirts of town, but it is only open to groups, not individual pilgrims. So, just ignore anything you see about it. Albergue Sanxtolo.

The camino passes in front of Güeñes’ very pretty late gothic Santa María church, and it figures in most people’s pictures of the first day’s walk.

View attachment 96725

Alonsotegui/Alonsotegi (latter is Vasco I think)
For those who like shorter stages, Alonsotegui is 11 km out of Bilbao. It has an Agro-Tourism place that looks nice, Agroturismo Ordaola, http://www.ordaola.es/

And if that’s too short a total distance for your first day, it’s easy to add a few kms with some walks in the area after lunch. In fact, some kind person gathered a whole bunch of paseos (strolls, not hikes) near Alonsotegi and you have a lot to choose from.

Pintxos here are excellent, according to Ender and he is a pretty good judge of food.

Balmaseda
For those who like longer stages, Balmaseda is about 12 km beyond Güeñes for a total of 37 km. Hotel Convento San Roque. https://hotelsanroque.es/.

Susana and I stayed there in 2014 so I have no idea on current prices. Susana had a big GPS problem and spent about three hours on the internet in the library and also with Gunnar on the phone, while I did some errands for the two of us and generally enjoyed the town, which is very pleasant. This was my first year carrying a GPS but I kept it buried in my pack and let Susanna take charge with hers. This turned out to have been a mistake a week later when Susanna had to stop walking because of bad blisters. o_O

There is also an albergue juvenil in Balmaseda, info in Ender’s guide.

So that’s Day 1. What do you think?
We didn't stay in Balmaseda, but I have heard good things about the Youth Hostel, which seems to be permanently open.
 

dick bird

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Day 3. Villasana de Mena to Espinosa de los Monteros (28 km) OR Nava de Ordunte to Espinosa (33 km).

From Nava de Ordunte (aka, Adolfo’s garage), it is 33 km to Espinosa de los Monteros. From Villasana de Mena, it is 28. The two “branches” join up at the Taranco chapel right outside Ordejón de Mena. If you leave directly from Villasana de Mena, you will miss the reservoir, which is pretty and shaded, but not something to re-work your schedule around.

In 2014, the option from Villasana de Mena direct to the Taranco Chapel was not shown, so we took a taxi back to Nava, where we met Adolfo. He walked with us to Bercedo, which was quite a treat. But as always happens when someone else is leading the way, my memory of the trail specifics are much foggier than my memory of the conversation and carmaraderie we enjoyed. In Bercedo there is a panadería whose troncos (bread stuffed with chorizo) have regional fame. Adolfo insisted we have some, but I remember thinking that the empanadas and some of the sweets looked just as appealing. Adolfo left us in Bercedo, and we continued on to the pretty town of Espinosa de los Monteros. From Bercedo to Espinosa is flat and sunny, and off road, but that’s about all I remember.


View attachment 96982 View attachment 96985 View attachment 96986 View attachment 96987 View attachment 96988 View attachment 96989 View attachment 96990


Espinosa de los Monteros
We stayed in the very nice Hostal Sancho García, which is the place recommended by Adolfo. We had a room facing onto the plaza mayor with a balcony, so we had a nice front row seat for the band playing and folkloric dancing going on that night. Also a nice spot to eat our troncos. Ender’s guide lists several other places to stay, including an albergue juvenil.

View attachment 96983 View attachment 96984

Staying near Bercedo
For those who like shorter distances, about 3 km from Bercedo is a Hotel Rural Valtarranz . It is in a town called Noceco. That would give you about a 18 km day from Villasana de Mena to Bercedo, and about 23 from Nava de Ordunte. I have received a note from the owners, who say they are happy to pick peregrinos up in Bercedo or any other reasonable place. But even without that pick-up option, it would leave the day’s total from Villasana at 21.

Also, if you have slept in Villasana, taking a taxi out to one of the several towns along the way is an option. You have towns at 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 12, and 18 km out from Villasana. Or you could also walk to Bercedo and call a taxi in Espinosa, which would reduce the total to about 18.
In Villasana, Luisa operates a donative in her house. Unlike Adolfo's. it is licensed, but she is a gem and does it out of the goodness of her heart. She fed us but there is also a social/community centre where you can have a drink and get a meal in the village on the other side of the main road. We stayed in the youth hostel in Espinosa. It is before the town making a short day even shorter but it is a peasant little town. The people running the youth hostel let us have a cabin in the grounds so we had a good night's sleep and cooked for ourselves. For some unexplained reason the camino in Espinosa routes you along a back street a block away yet parallel to the main street, thus carefully avoiding any bars, cafés or other retail outlets that would be glad of your custom. It meets up with the main street just before the bridge.
 

dick bird

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@peregrina2000 thank you for the accommodation and some ideas of what to do in Bilbao.

My first question is any good tips on where to go to get some food after landing in Bilbao?
I think pretty well anywhere in Bilbao is a good place to eat, especially in the old quarter. If you are not sure, just go anywhere that looks crowded.
 
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dick bird

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Day 4. Espinosa de los Monteros to Pedrosa de Valdeporres (25-26 km)

This day on the Camino is almost all off road, through a few small towns and a beautiful natural area. There is one ascent of about 200 m to a great view, with a stretch on the Via Verde made out of the now abandoned Santander-to-the-Meditrranean train line project. Begun in 1879, but never completed, the work was halted definitively in 1959. To tell the truth, the day seemed longer than 25-26, but I can’t point to any one specific difficulty. It is a very pretty walk. Ender’s guide notes that you can make the day a bit shorter by taking a forest route instead of the route on the abandoned railway. This split happes in the town of Entrambosríos and is marked.

View attachment 97110 View attachment 97114 View attachment 97115 View attachment 97116 View attachment 97111 View attachment 97112
We spent the night in Pedrosa de Valdeporres, about .8 km before Santelices with its albergue in a train station.

We stayed in Hotel Rural La Engaña, double room was 55€. Truth be told, it was not a great price/quality ratio, but hey. A Spanish woman and her British husband operate the facility and also provide English immersion courses.

Probably the highlight of the day was walking through the natural area called Ojo Güareña. If I were to walk this way again, this is where I would mix things up a bit. It is described as a “karst complex.” Wikipedia describes an area filled with tunnels carved out of soluble rocks by underground water, 90 km of tunnels no less. Archaeological research reveals that the caves were inhabited hundreds of thousands of years ago, dating back to middle Paleolithic times. It includes the largest cave in Spain, which has rock paintings dating back at least 13,000 years. The Camino goes through a very pretty and forested area, and past some of the medieval anthropomorphic tombs.

View attachment 97113
But what it doesn’t do is take you to the Ermite de San Bernabé, which is a mere 2.1 km off the camino from the village of Quisicedo. It is a 10-12 century ermita, adjacent to a huge cave that is also open for visits. The most recent info I saw reported that it had re-opened and that guided tours take 45 minutes and cost 4€. Its setting reminded me a bit of the romanesque church in the Cañon de Río Lobos on the Camino Castellano-Aragonés. And that was just stunning. This may be more heavily touristed, which can interrupt the vibe a bit, but I think it would be a very nice visit.

So I would be tempted to take a day here, to see the ermita and to enjoy more of the natural beauty. Hotel Prado Mayor is in Quintanilla del Rebolar, which is right on the camino, a few kms from Quisicedo.

A video about Ojo Güareña, focusing on the natural beauty and wildlife (particuarly birds).

Good pictures of the ermita and adjacent cave.
Can I put in a word for Chuchi and his albergue at Santlices? It is in a railway station that never had a railway - part of the the Valencia to Santander project abandoned in 1959. The camino passes it and crosses a never-used viaduct. Like Luisa, Chuchi is dedicated to the Olvidado and has done some sterling and underappreciated work way-marking. There is a good bar/restaurant just below Chuchi's place.
 

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To throw another option into the ring at this point: the Camino De Las Asturias follows the northern side of the reservoir. [...]
I don't know if that is easier for short stages or not, but it's something to consider.
On the french Xacobeo website, the 12th stage from Pedrosa de Valdeporres to Corconte is 19.9 km. The 13th stage is from Corconte to Reinosa, a 29.8 km walk.

They also list the following accommodation:
Corconte
- Albergue Corconte (699 646 120) -

Servillas

- Apartamentos El Palacio del Campo (659 930 718) - 20 places - 30 €

Orzales

- Casa del Lago de Campo (625 575 320) - 14 places - 23 €

Reinosa

- tous services
Servillas is about 14.8 km from Corconte. So slow walkers could do:
day 1: Pedrosa de Valdeporres to Corconte, 19.9 km
day 2: Corconte to Servillas, 14.8 km
day 3: Servillas to Reinosa, 15 km.

The highlights of the Arija to Olea stage are mainly after Villafría, or Retortillo, so these highlights could be seen after leaving Reinosa. The only sight we would miss by going on the north shore is the tower of the church at Villanueva de las Rozas. I haven't gone into the details of what sights there might be on the north side.
 
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I haven't gone into the details of what sights there might be on the north side.
In process.
So far I have found this:

And this for general information:
As well as this for bird-lovers:

In Concorte there is a 100-year-old spa:
 
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Raggy

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Can I make what might sound like a pedantic, anti-yankee request.... Could we say 'hard surface' or (asphalt, or tarmac)? Then we all know what to expect.
Let me just say that you're not a top-drawer pedant if you use tarmac and asphalt interchangeably.

I confess that I did a project for one of the companies that produces aggregates and other products that go onto roads and into buildings ... and I never got around to working out the differences between asphalt (whether pronounced ashfelt or assfalt) / tarmac / blacktop / etc.

The whole pavement / sidewalk thing is odd, though. Sidewalks aren't often paved in the US. Instead, cities find it cheaper to pour concrete. Poured concrete isn't really pavement, any more than sprayed concrete is tiling - but if you find a poured concrete sidewalk in America you should be grateful because some American cities provide nowhere at all for pedestrians to walk.

I guess that the British called their pedestrian areas "pavements" because cities like London built paved areas for pedestrians on either side of unpaved roads that tended to fill up with horse manure. The distinction was between raised, paved, platforms and the stink. New York City suffered the same problem in the early 20th century, made worse by banana imports from the Caribbean. (Those cartoon scenes where characters slip on banana skins stem from an epidemic of banana-skin accidents during this period in history). But with the spread of automobiles, the horse manure disappeared, entire road surfaces got concreted over, and Americans moved out to sprawling suburbs. Perhaps this sidewalk / pavement schism is a symptom of the history of urban development - a divide between pedestrian-centric and auto-centric town planning cultures - as much as it is a contrast between two versions of English.

Apologies for these road surface musings .... I fear that, as Peter Cook (comedian) said about his book "My experiences down the coal mine", they are short but extremely boring and they lack the sex element so vital in these troubled times.
 
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Raggy

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Somewhat ashamed to post a video of Michael McIntyre here, but it's on topic:


Or at least it's on topic if you accept that the topic here is off topic. Don't worry, all this will get deleted when Peregrina2000 puts on her editing hat and produces the director's cut of this Virtual Camino. Enjoy the sketch while this post remains.
 
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Let me just say that you're not a top-drawer pedant if you use tarmac and asphalt interchangeably.
Oh good. I thought I was in trouble there, but I guess not.

Meanwhile, back on the Camino, it looks like North or South of the reservoir makes little difference as far ar Romanesque is concerned.
(If that's your thing, I think it'd be far better to access this route from the East, along the Ebro on the Viejo. That's one wonder after another and one wonderful day after another. If you don't have the time to start in Pamplona, Miranda de Ebro is very easy to get to by train and would make a perfect starting place, about the same distance as from Bilbao.)
 

peregrina2000

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Can I make what might sound like a pedantic, anti-yankee request, but really, please, it isn't. Please be really careful with the word 'pavement'. It took me a long time to realise that this is not an example of where things have a different name in different English-speaking countries (e.g. spanner/wrench, tap/faucet) - it is a word that is frequently used but with a very different meaning. For North Americans, 'pavement' means road surface. For the rest of us (UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand etc) it means 'a raised area at the side of the road to allow pedestrians to walk safely', in other words, 'sidewalk'. To be told that the next 6 kilometres is on 'pavement' only to find yourself walking, not along a sidewalk, but along the edge of a busy road is confusing, to say the least, not to mention potentially dangerous. Could we say 'hard surface' or (asphalt, or tarmac)? Then we all know what to expect.
Ah, the intricacies of language. I had not known this and will try to remember in the future. I guess I should not be surprised, though, because I remember when I first read on the forum about people walking on tarmac, I wondered — how do they get out on the runways? Don’t the airport authorities stop them? 😁

So, if I can’t say tarmac, because Americans will immediately think of airports, and I can’t say pavement, because Brits et al. will think of sidewalks, can I say asphalt? Road walking is another option.

Thanks for pointing this out, @dick bird! I do like to be precise with language and avoid misunderstandings.
 

Raggy

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can I say asphalt? Road walking is another option.
Asphalt or road walking (hard road surface) are good choices that should be clear to all, even if they're not our go to words when speaking.

Does anyone know the technical term for the compacted earth road surface that one often finds on forestry and mine roads? It would be helpful to have a common term to turn to for that. One American walker that I met had a neat three letter acronym for it. Something like "Compacted Aggregate Road" (CAR??) or "Compressed Gravel Road" (CGR??) or something ...

That stuff can be almost as hard on the feet as asphalt. I am sometimes disappointed when I expect soft trails and find that I'm walking on compacted earth and gravel all day.

I had no idea that "tarmac" was open to so much interpretation, but it appears you're right.
 
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peregrina2000

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Somewhat ashamed to post a video of Michael McIntyre here, but it's on topic:


Or at least it's on topic if you accept that the topic here is off topic. Don't worry, all this will get deleted when Peregrina2000 puts on her editing hat and produces the director's cut of this Virtual Camino. Enjoy the sketch while this post remains.
This is HILARIOUS. I have never heard of Michael McIntyre, so you must explain why you feel ashamed.
 
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I think it would help reconcile the neighbours to Adolfo's to eat there which is what we did, or you could cook in Adolfo's garage.
Adolfo’s place in Nava de Ordunte sounds like a good place to go. But it would mean passing up on the opportunity to see two great little Romanesque churches a few kms away from Villasana de Mena. I have to admit that I am finally accepting the fact that not everyone is as enamored of Romanesque churches as I am (and I will dare to put VN and AJ in that category as well). 😁

In Villasana, Luisa operates a donative in her house. Unlike Adolfo's. it is licensed, but she is a gem and does it out of the goodness of her heart. She fed us but there is also a social/community centre where you can have a drink and get a meal in the village on the other side of the main road.
Just checking to make sure — I think you mean Villasante, not Villasana de Mena.

Villasante is about 26 from Nava de Ordunte and if you walk directly from Villasana de Mena (rather than return to Nava de Ordunte), it would be a 21 km walk.

I have to thank you, @dick bird, for highlighting all of the albergues — there really are quite a few! I will make sure to make up a list and have them all in one place. I think that often people shy away from Caminos because of the lack of albergues, but your posts have suggested that there are actually a lot.

So far I have — Bilbao, Balmaseda, Nava de Ordunte, Villasante, Espinosa (youth hostel), Santelices
 

Raggy

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This is HILARIOUS. I have never heard of Michael McIntyre, so you must explain why you feel ashamed.
That particular snippet made me laugh. Some of his work (e.g. a show where he takes a celebrity's mobile phone and sends texts to their famous friends) is cringeworthy. Overall, he is a highly polished, "easy-listening," inoffensive, middle-of-the-road, prime-time, sort of act. Watching Michael McIntyre can feel a little like watching Liberace - Talented, popular, and schmaltzy, in a shiny wrapper. What's not to like? (Everything).
 
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Talented, popular, and schmaltzy, in a shiny wrapper.
Haha, yeah. Like What's-his-name in classical music. André Rieu. It makes my skin crawl. But now we are way off topic.

North or South of the reservoir, anyone? If everyone's listening to Michael McIntyre or André Rieu, I'm taking the other way, whichever it is!
:eek:🤣
 

dick bird

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Adolfo’s place in Nava de Ordunte sounds like a good place to go. But it would mean passing up on the opportunity to see two great little Romanesque churches a few kms away from Villasana de Mena. I have to admit that I am finally accepting the fact that not everyone is as enamored of Romanesque churches as I am (and I will dare to put VN and AJ in that category as well). 😁


Just checking to make sure — I think you mean Villasante, not Villasana de Mena.

Villasante is about 26 from Nava de Ordunte and if you walk directly from Villasana de Mena (rather than return to Nava de Ordunte), it would be a 21 km walk.

I have to thank you, @dick bird, for highlighting all of the albergues — there really are quite a few! I will make sure to make up a list and have them all in one place. I think that often people shy away from Caminos because of the lack of albergues, but your posts have suggested that there are actually a lot.

So far I have — Bilbao, Balmaseda, Nava de Ordunte, Villasante, Espinosa (youth hostel), Santelices
Adolfo’s place in Nava de Ordunte sounds like a good place to go. But it would mean passing up on the opportunity to see two great little Romanesque churches a few kms away from Villasana de Mena. I have to admit that I am finally accepting the fact that not everyone is as enamored of Romanesque churches as I am (and I will dare to put VN and AJ in that category as well). 😁


Just checking to make sure — I think you mean Villasante, not Villasana de Mena.

Villasante is about 26 from Nava de Ordunte and if you walk directly from Villasana de Mena (rather than return to Nava de Ordunte), it would be a 21 km walk.

I have to thank you, @dick bird, for highlighting all of the albergues — there really are quite a few! I will make sure to make up a list and have them all in one place. I think that often people shy away from Caminos because of the lack of albergues, but your posts have suggested that there are actually a lot.

So far I have — Bilbao, Balmaseda, Nava de Ordunte, Villasante, Espinosa (youth hostel), Santelices
This should say Villasante. I'd hate anyone to miss Luisa's place just because I didn't trust my own diary.
 
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