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Which Camino should I take?

#1
Hi Everyone and thanks to welcome me to this forum.

I am currently living in Lodon and I have finally decided to go to Santiago. Unfortubately I am still not sure which route would be the best for me.

I never done this walk before although I don't have difficulty walking and I am well equipted. I thought that it would be nice to take the train to Plymouth then take the ferry to Santander to then walk from santander on the Camino del Norte.

I am living on the 8th of July and a part from my bag I haven't yet planned and decided which route to take.

Could you please advise and tell me if it is actually better take a train to the nearest town near the Camino Frances or would you say that actually it is better to go via the Camino del Norte?

Many thanks

Patrick :?:
 

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marktqm

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2006)
#2
Patrick,

Seems like it's a spur of the moment thing. You have your bag and you're leaving in 4 days. And you don't know where to go yet. I assume that you don't have any pilgrim's guide book with you. You might as well walk the Camino Frances and join the horde at this time of year. You won't get lost. But if you want a real adventure, just follow your nose.

Buen camino and good luck!

Mark
 
#3
camino del norte

Hola Patrick

As you arrive in Santander I would do the Camino del Norte. It sounds really nice and pleasant walking.

If you want to do the Camino Francès you could get the train to Fromista from Santander and start from there?

It sounds a really nice start to your pilgrimage to take that ferry across the Bay of Biscay. You should see dolphins and whales with any luck?
You will be nice and relaxed and ready to do your pilgrimage.

Good luck whatever route you choose.

buen camino
 
#4
THANK YOU

Hey Guys

Thank you very much you have been very helpfull.

My latest plans are the following:
1. arrival to santander
2. take the camino del norte towards Villaviciosa
3. From here walking towards Oviedo
4. Oviedo to Lugo
5. Lugo to Compostela

Have you heard of anyone doing or have done the same?
I understand that the path is not well signposted which map should I get?
Where can I get my pillgrim passport in Santander?
Am I mad?

Thank you very much for your help

Patrick
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
#5
Hi, Patrick,

I recently walked the Norte from Irun to Santiago. At Villaviciosa we "dipped down" to Oviedo and then went back up to the Norte at Aviles. So I can't speak to the Oviedo-Santiago section, but many of the people we met on the Norte did turn off at Villaviciosa to continue on the Primitivo from Oviedo to Santiago. And we also met people in Oviedo who were starting out there, and they were all going to walk the primitivo. We saw some of those people again in Santiago and they said that the primitivo was really nice, except for some confusion at the point where the Norte hits the Frances, that is either Melide or Palas del Rei (there are other posts here on that topic).

As far as waymarking, we found that the Basque and Cantabrian sections of the Norte were very well marked. The Asturian section was uneven, we got lost on several occasions (once in a pine forest outside Luarca and once outside Cadavedo), but these points are both west of where you would drop south and leave the Norte. We had no problem with path marking up to Oviedo.

As far as guidebooks, we were lucky to usually be able to get help from either a German or French pilgrim, both of those languages have excellent guidebooks. We used Eric Walker's guide pubished by the Confraternity of St. James, and I'm glad we had it but sometimes it was very unclear and unhelpful.

One thing I would highly recommend is that when you see an opportunity to take the E-9 (the coastal path which sometimes, but not always, coincides with the Camino), do it. The stretch from Pendueles to Llanes, for instance, is absolutely spectacular.

And my other recommendation is that when you leave Villaviciosa and have gotten past the split (one way to Gijon, the other to Oviedo), consider taking a detour to visit the church and monastery at Valdedios. It is marked, and it's a couple km down into the valley, but the way back up to join the Camino is a very prety walk with lovely views of Valdedios below. The church is pre-romanesque and is in a beautiful setting. There's a monastery as well (it's "en obras" --under construction-- because of a lot of flooding problems), and there is an albergue there. We didn't spend the night there but we met some who said it was a very nice experience.

So, no, you are not mad, you will find other people doing the same thing, and it is a very nice alternative to the crowded Camino Frances. There are more kms on asphalt, but rarely on busy roads.

The albergue in Santander is in a downtown apartment. It is rather small, room for about 20, I think, but the people there are very helpful, and I know there is a lot of alternative accommodation nearby. It was filling up every day in May, so I'm sure it will be full in July and August as well. If I remember correctly, it opens at 3 p.m., but there is a bar a few buildings down where you "sign in" and wait for the opening. I am not sure about where to get the credencial in Santander since we already had ours, but I am sure that the albergue staff will know this answer.

Buen camino, Patrick!
 

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#6
Hi Patrick,
I did exactly the route you spoke of, except I started at Portugalete (near Bilbao), and dipped down toward Oviedo after Villaviciosa. I think it's a wonderful route, because you get to see some of the coast, but a lot of the beautiful interior. The walks are difficult and sometimes poorly marked, but as long as you carry enough water (seriously!) and are able to ask rudimentary directions you should be fine. I finished on 13 June, 2007 and I would go back in a heartbeat. I traveled with many seasoned Camino walkers, and they all agreed that this combination was one of their favorites. It's a lot of nature!!! Have a great time!
 
#7
peregrina2000 said:
Hi, Patrick,

I recently walked the Norte from Irun to Santiago. At Villaviciosa we "dipped down" to Oviedo and then went back up to the Norte at Aviles. So I can't speak to the Oviedo-Santiago section, but many of the people we met on the Norte did turn off at Villaviciosa to continue on the Primitivo from Oviedo to Santiago. And we also met people in Oviedo who were starting out there, and they were all going to walk the primitivo. We saw some of those people again in Santiago and they said that the primitivo was really nice, except for some confusion at the point where the Norte hits the Frances, that is either Melide or Palas del Rei (there are other posts here on that topic).

As far as waymarking, we found that the Basque and Cantabrian sections of the Norte were very well marked. The Asturian section was uneven, we got lost on several occasions (once in a pine forest outside Luarca and once outside Cadavedo), but these points are both west of where you would drop south and leave the Norte. We had no problem with path marking up to Oviedo.

As far as guidebooks, we were lucky to usually be able to get help from either a German or French pilgrim, both of those languages have excellent guidebooks. We used Eric Walker's guide pubished by the Confraternity of St. James, and I'm glad we had it but sometimes it was very unclear and unhelpful.

One thing I would highly recommend is that when you see an opportunity to take the E-9 (the coastal path which sometimes, but not always, coincides with the Camino), do it. The stretch from Pendueles to Llanes, for instance, is absolutely spectacular.

And my other recommendation is that when you leave Villaviciosa and have gotten past the split (one way to Gijon, the other to Oviedo), consider taking a detour to visit the church and monastery at Valdedios. It is marked, and it's a couple km down into the valley, but the way back up to join the Camino is a very prety walk with lovely views of Valdedios below. The church is pre-romanesque and is in a beautiful setting. There's a monastery as well (it's "en obras" --under construction-- because of a lot of flooding problems), and there is an albergue there. We didn't spend the night there but we met some who said it was a very nice experience.

So, no, you are not mad, you will find other people doing the same thing, and it is a very nice alternative to the crowded Camino Frances. There are more kms on asphalt, but rarely on busy roads.

The albergue in Santander is in a downtown apartment. It is rather small, room for about 20, I think, but the people there are very helpful, and I know there is a lot of alternative accommodation nearby. It was filling up every day in May, so I'm sure it will be full in July and August as well. If I remember correctly, it opens at 3 p.m., but there is a bar a few buildings down where you "sign in" and wait for the opening. I am not sure about where to get the credencial in Santander since we already had ours, but I am sure that the albergue staff will know this answer.

Buen camino, Patrick!
I have to second everything you just said...take the E-9 (love it!) and sleep at Valdedios. The mass and music is spectacular, and the albergue has nice facilities. You're absolutely right about the German and French guidebooks. I did not bring a guidebook and did this route spur of the moment...had I not met my French/Quebecois comrades, I would have been S.O.L.!
 
#8
hi there, i just finished the camino norte on june 10. It was a great walk, alot of ashpalt walking, not alot of people, so no problem getting a bed.
i would suggest some knowledge of spainish. i know that alot of people were doing the primitivo route, however it is ALOT harder over mountains.
Definately take the E-9 when possible . i also loved Taipa on the coast. The albergue right on ocean. Also there is a chance (not likely in July) not to see other pilgrims. i walked 13 days walking on my own, not by choice, there was no one going my way. HOWEVER i was Very grateful, for me it was a true pilgrimage, not a social fun time like the camino frances. so depends what you are looking for. i would at least have an outline of the towns you would be walking thru, i did not take a guide book, not really necessary , have a map thou.
santander, a big city, albergue open at 3, leave things in the bar, think you can get a passport at the church.
have a great trip, and i hope that it is everything you need it to be.
dawn
 
#9
I am so amazed of all your helpful comments that my jaw as dropped :eek:

Thank you, thank you and thank you again.

To my fortune I speak fluently french and spanish so I will definetly buy the guide book or map in French and also try to mingle as much as I can with locals.

This is no joke anymore and the date is now set for Saturday going to Dartmoor and walk down to Plymouth and take the Ferry on Sunday

Just adding few Kms... Lets hope I don't get lost in Dartmoor. It would be rather embarasing to post a note saying that I didn't even make to SPain!

Lots of good thoughts to everyone

Patrick
 
#10
Re: THANK YOU

In my opinion this is a good, but hard, decision. Hard because of the mountains. The Camino Francés will be completely full of pilgrims and you will enjoy the Camino del Norte first and the Primitivo later with its incredibly sights.

Enjoy the very, very good gastronomy in the north. In Asturias the Fabada. Uhmm, really every dishes there have to be tested!

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
#11
Looks like I'm too late to wish Patrick a buen camino. By now, you're on your way! Hope it's a wonderful experience.

And I really hope you will fill us in on your walk, because I (and probably other camino veterans) am hoping to walk the Primitivo soon, and there is not nearly as much information about the route as there is about the others.

I second Javier's suggestion about the fabada. It's delicious. And let me add another -- the Asturian cheeses are super. In many bars and restaurants you can get a "tabla de quesos asturianos" and you should definitely go for it. My all time favorite is "La Peral", a kind of creamy blue cheese, not as pungent as Cabrales (which is also very good and highly regarded, but it's a bit strong for my palate). La Peral is available in the US, but the price is out of sight: http://www.artisanalcheese.com/prodinfo ... mber=10297

Hmmm, maybe we should start new threads for the various caminos and ask for people's favorite foods along the way. For many of us, walking on the Camino is the one time in our lives that we can throw caution to the wind and indulge in all sorts of goodies that would, in other circumstances, just put on the pounds.
 
#12
The "problem" in Asturias is, too many different suggestions for eating.

If Cabrales is too strong, try the blue cheese "del Pais", a bit softer. In Asturias, just and only in Asturias, there's about 120 different kind of cheeses.

For Example, you can taste the fabada and the "fabes con almejas", the first one with chorizo and morcilla and the second one with sea productos as the almeja.

Here in Spain, the Camino del Norte is said to be the only one where the pilgrim takes weight during his pilgrimage, in all other Caminos is normal to lose some weight.

A lot of food, and very cheap.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
 
#13
Santander

This is getting better and better. First where to walk and then what to eat. Que rico

I am waiting to see if one of the bed in the alberque is free (priority to people already on the walk) and then I am going to have such a long sleep ready for the walk.

I definetly recommend taking the ferry from Plymouth to Santander it is a great way to travel

Buen camino
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
#15
Hope all goes well on your Camino, mixtlipec, please report in when you can!

By the way, there's a new municipal albergue in Comillas, which was not in my German friends' guide. It's very nice, and Comillas is a great little place to spend a night. The bar Filipinas is the place for dinner!
 
#16
Defeat!

I have unfortunately injured my foot and I am unable to finish the camino. I am not too upset because I know that if I continue it would get so bad that I would need six months to recover. Not a Good idea.

I am at the moment in Oviedo and I can say that I am glad to see the sun. This year it has been a pretty bad season and the rain as almost never left me. Hence if I am still pale do not say that I just stayed around the corner in London but I promise I was here.

I would really advice everyone to be skip the stage between Santander to Santillana del Mar. Lots of km on the road and really not the best to see. I have heard people that took a train from Laredo to comillas and are really happy to have done so. I wish I did the same. Too much asphalt caused my injury on my foot.

Also the last 10km before Oviedo are also worth to give up with the luxuries of a bus.

Anyway I know that maybe is not the pure spirit of the camino to cut areas but to be staying on a road to be worried to be run over or to be admiring the chemical factories around the road for me is not worth it.

Instead if you want to really see something nice you should go for a detour from San Vincente de la Varquera to the Monasterio de Santo Toribio de liebana. When you arrive at the hostel of San Vincente the osteleros will show the path. Luis has written a guide of the norte and he is very keen to tell you everything about it.

Good luck and Buen Camino

Patrick

As soon as I am better I'll be back
 
#17
sorry to hear of your injuries, very smart in not continuing!!!.
i walked the frances last year, and the camino norte this year. there is a lot of road from Santander to Santillia del mar, however before and after there is ALOT of country lane walking. I found not until ribadeo (galicia)
that the path became a trail.
I did take a bus once as i was running out of time, also i choose not to walk 40km. If you train before the hike and take BREAKS every two hours, the the chance of injuries decrease.
hope you can continue another time.
dawn
 

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