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Our Camino Del Norte Journey

Discussion in 'Camino del Norte' started by RandomCurrents, Aug 1, 2017.

  1. RandomCurrents

    RandomCurrents New Member

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    We did the Camino del Norte starting on October 1, 2015. Before we started our hike, we were not aware of this forum, although I sure wish we would have known about it. Like many Americans, we were introduced to the Camino through the 2010 movie The Way. As soon as we saw it, we knew we had to do the walk. And five years later, we did just that!


    We of course made some mistakes. For whatever reason, we believed the Northern route started in San Sebastian instead of Irun! So that is where we started. We didn’t take nearly enough rest days. We should have at least taken one day a week off, maybe even a day every five or six days. We were worried that if we didn’t hurry, we would be facing albergues that were closed as we reached the end. We should have just started a few days earlier. Our intention was to continue on to Finisterre, but by the time we reached Santiago, we were broken!


    We chose the Camino del Norte because we wanted to walk along the coastline; and it was amazing. But, we knew that one of the big downsides of walking Norte was the amount of time walking on pavement. It was even more than we were prepared for, and it definitely contributed to breaking us.


    Despite all of this, we had a wonderful journey, and it is one of the best experiences in our lives!


    Anyway, we blogged about our journey, so hopefully this well help answer some questions that others may have, or simply provide some inspiration. We just did a post highlighting the why we chose Camino del Norte. I am hanging out in these forums because we are trying to figure out our next long walk. After reading Wily’s post, I am thinking that we may have to walk Camino Portugues next!


    Buen Camino!



    http://randomcurrents.com/camino-del-norte/
     
  2. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Hi and many thanks for the link to your blog. The Norte looks spectacular and is now on my list for possible future Caminos!

    I see you walked in Oct/Nov. I started the Frances at the end of September and have walked parts of it in October and March/April. I have to say that we haven't yet found crowds to be a problem when walking at that time of year so if you do get to return don't write it off.

    Thanks again and Buen Camino

    Greg
     
  3. RandomCurrents

    RandomCurrents New Member

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    Greg,
    We really do want to walk the Frances, and it is great that the crowds have been manageable during the shoulder seasons. We would definitely do it then.

    Which have you enjoyed more, before or after summer? Thanks!
     
  4. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Now that is a really good question. Walking in late September early October we found that a lot of the countryside had been burnt brown during the height of the summer and the sunflowers looked somewhat forelorn. On the other hand the days were still quite warm (after chilly starts) and then as you get into Rioja the vines are heavily laden with all those wonderful grapes which go to making some of the truly great wines of the world.

    Walking in March/April we had similar weather, possibly a little more rain but that really is a lottery in northern Spain. The only thing I would say is that, as I think you found on the Norte, some of the villages and albergues had not quite geared themselves up for the season in March and there were times when getting a morning coffee break and even lunch/dinner became a bit of a struggle. In one small village we ended up eating some very poor frozen pizza for dinner. But it's all part of the Camino experience.

    So I'm really sorry but I can't really say which would be better. I would probably say late Sept into early October but others would probably have very different views.

    Whichever you decide we generally tried to finish walking by early afternoon if we could as at both times the late afternoon sun (from about 2 to 5) could be pretty hot even at that time of year.

    But do please consider the Frances, I know it's very popular but there is a reason for that and that first few days over and through the Pyrenees is not to be missed and the towns of Pamplona and Burgos, Leon etc are fantastic and some of the little villages are magical.

    Buen Camino

    Greg
     
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  5. RandomCurrents

    RandomCurrents New Member

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    Greg,

    Thanks for the great info! Oh yes, the wonderful vines, fantastic food, and the quaint villages! We cannot wait to get back!

    Buen camino!

    Dale
     
  6. calowie

    calowie Active Member

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    Dale. We also walked the Camino del norte in 2015, but in the Spring. However we detoured towards Oviedo and the Primitivo so missed the second section of el norte. We only really had lots of roads on the day into and out of Bilbao, although some days we would walk for an hour or so on smaller roads. This forum certainly helped us prepare mentally for our 4 week trip. We averaged 25-30 Km each day and usually were in the albergue by 2 PM, giving us time to see the towns. You are right the norte is beautiful, and to our delight, there were so few peregrinos that we came to know all 15 we sort of walked with very well. We loved sharing dinners inthe very small towns where people had to congregate at the only available or open bar. We also have a blog at https://carlosandmick.wordpress.com/. We will have a look at yours soon to compare! I must admit getting to Santiago was a bit of anticlimax, but we continued on to other hikes after 2 days in the metropolis! I suspect the conditions in the Fall were very different than the Spring. but we will have to repeat our trip to prove that! Buen Camino.
     
  7. katie

    katie New Member

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  8. katie

    katie New Member

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    Thanks for the post and link. I am going to do the Camino Norte to Primitivo to Santiago. Was the pavement walking more North or South or all along? I think moving over to Primitivo should cut out some pavement. I am also planning to go mid August to September. Hoping it won't be too crowded by September.
     
  9. El Condor 2014

    El Condor 2014 Well-Known Member Donating Member

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    I have just finished Los Caminos Del Norte .
    As a flower lover I have always preferred to do my Caminos during Spring ( Starting mid to end of May )
    If you are a first timer, I suggest you do El Camino Frances first, as it will teach you ,what works and what doesn't work for YOU ! and how the Camino operates .
    You may have noticed that I wrote LOS Caminos del Norte and not EL Camino del Norte
    ( for non Spanish speaking pilgrims , "Los" is plural and "EL" is singular )
    Los Caminos del Norte have lots of variances/alternative routes.
    If you don't plan well you may miss beautiful places eg Playa de las Catedrales, Natural Pool ( only 300 meters from the Camino), Bufones de Pria, Hermita de San Telmo, Cudillero to name a few
     

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  10. Ampiji

    Ampiji New Member

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  11. Ampiji

    Ampiji New Member

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    Greetings from Far North Queensland in Australia !
    Many, many thanks for your wonderfully informative post and blog which is proving very helpful as I decide which Camino route to take in May 2018. I am really interested in the Camino del Norte due to the less number of people ( still want to meet fellow pilgrims however ), food and scenery. I am an older ( fit ) woman travelling solo and have many decisions to make but the bonus is I have ample time.
    Thanks again :)
     
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  12. El Condor 2014

    El Condor 2014 Well-Known Member Donating Member

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    Hi @Ampiji , I finished Los Caminos del Norte this year May - June,
    If you need any information you will find it here in this wonderful forum, nice people and very informative with lots of experience. If you can not find the info you require let me know ( you can PM me !) I live in Melbourne ( ex-Perth boy )
    I am currently planning another Camino ( Camino Serrana / Camino de la Plata )
    best of luck with your planning and BUEN CAMINO .
     
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  13. RandomCurrents

    RandomCurrents New Member

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    You are so welcome! I'm glad you found it helpful. Don't hesitate to reach out with any questions you have.

    Buen camino!
     
  14. El Condor 2014

    El Condor 2014 Well-Known Member Donating Member

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    @RandomCurrents , Just read your blog ! really nice, and great pictures , it brought me great memories *( I finished Los Camino del Norte this year ). Great job and thanks for sharing your Camino experience with us !
     
  15. RandomCurrents

    RandomCurrents New Member

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    Thank you! We really had the time of our lives! We really enjoy sharing our experiences as well.
     
  16. Ampiji

    Ampiji New Member

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    Hi El Condor, Yes I couldn't agree more ;I am so glad I came across this forum. It's the first forum I've ever joined so hope I navigate my way through ( Does PM mean post a message ? ) I would love to know all about your Camino Norte; have so many questions ! I am still not sure whether I will do the whole Camino or even the Camino Norte as even though I seek less crowds, I still wish to have contact with people, perhaps not daily but every other day & maybe walk together for a few days etc. To be truthful I am a little nervous about doing this route on my own. Originally I was planning on doing a smaller self guided ( with luggage transported & bed for the night pre booked & paid etc ) but then thought why not do it myself, a walk the whole way & save money.Have many decisions to make.
     
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  17. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    PM means "Private Message" for when you don't want everyone to see your message.
     
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  18. Ampiji

    Ampiji New Member

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    Hi,
    Thanks , so how do I send a " PM " to members on the forum ?
     
  19. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    What I do is:
    1. Select "inbox"
    2. Select "Start a new conversation"
    3. Enter logical things in

    There may be other ways, but this should work.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2017
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  20. Ampiji

    Ampiji New Member

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    Hi there,
    Yes I have many questions so I am very grateful for any information re Camino Norte.

    Initially I planned to do the self guided Camino Norte from Saint Sebastian to Bilbao with Caminoways ( bag transport & accommodation) but have now decided to do it myself with the strong possibility of going ahead to Santiago ( maybe a combo of walking & public transport ).
    I am a pretty fit female in my late 50's, do a lot of walking uphill etc 5 times per week in Cairns, Australia. I guess my questions relate to safety being on my own ( May 2018) & carrying my own rucksack (first time ), accommodation every night - want a combo of albuques & private but do not want to carry a sleeping bag.It's very exciting but I want to make sure I will have a bed for the night if I haven't pre-booked anything.
    I know the Norte is harder as well but love the coast and the food is better in the Basque Country. I am hoping I am making the right choice.
    Any information re above would be greatly appreciated.
    Ampiji
     
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  21. calowie

    calowie Active Member

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    Ampiji: A couple of years ago we did the Camino del norte and Primitivo also starting in May. It was a wonderful trip. There are not as many people as on the Camino frances but you will find people to walk with and you will not be alone. We did take very light sleeping bags (600gm) and I would recommend that you do as well as the weather can change and your own sleeping bag is most comfortable. If you continue your training that you described you should be fine- that is similar to what we did. While you may walk 24 Km a day, that really is broken up into segments- 2 hours- and a stop for cafe con leche and tortilla. Then 2 hours and a stop for lunch, then 2 hours and you are at the albergue. Because we wanted to keep the flexibility we did not pre book anything except the first night in San Sebastian- and we never had a problem until we joined the camino frances at Santa irene. It is a lovely route! You can see our blog at https://carlosandmick.wordpress.com/
    Send us comments or specific questions if you have any!
     
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  22. Ampiji

    Ampiji New Member

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    Hi and many thanks for your response and feedback.
    I'm getting the hang of the forum and hope this reply is a private message. Some further questions are:do the albergues have blankets and do the privately run hostels have blankets and the pensions ( imagine these do )? As I may decide to do a combination of carrying my rucksack ( is 55 litres too much ) and transporting it, is it easy to arrange this along the way ? I already have Leki walking poles but can you easily buy some in San Sebastian along with other Camino stuff ? I'm sure I have heaps of other questions but will leave it to these for now. It's very exciting doing all the preparation. Many thanks
     
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  23. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    Good info already posted by calowie



    I have also walked The Camino Norte and really Loved this route.

    The way I tackled it (Because of constraints on my time) was that I first walked from Irun to Santander https://web.archive.org/web/20151018105545/http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/50192/42d90/

    Then (As part of my Big 1,000 Mile Camino) from Santander to Santiago de Compostela https://web.archive.org/web/20151024000824/http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/50192/bc/

    And as a separate Camino, The Camino Primitivo from Villaviciosa https://web.archive.org/web/20151120125413/http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/50192/c2/



    The above links take you to my trek notes on these Camino’s, but since the demise of VT, some links no longer work, so if you read them and need further information on things like Refugio’s etc, then please feel free to ask me specific questions :)



    As already mentioned by calowie, you will have to decide whether you are going to follow the Camino Norte, or branch onto The Camino Primitivo when you get to Villaviciosa – My own preference was The Camino Primitivo, But I Love the Mountains !!!



    OK – Your Questions



    1) The Municipal Albergue’s tend to be fairly simple affairs and don’t all have blankets, but all of the private ones that I stayed in did

    2) I would say that a 55 litre rucksack is too big, I walked most of my Caminos with either a 36 litre one, or a 40+5 litre one – The larger the rucksack the bigger the temptation to carry “Just in case” items and overload yourself !!!

    3) Although I haven’t used the rucksack transportation companies myself, I did see signs for them being advertised on The Camino Norte

    4) San Sebastian is a sizable place and therefore I can’t see you having any problems finding shops that see anything you require



    Good Luck and Buen Camino

    Rob
     
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  24. Ampiji

    Ampiji New Member

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    Hi Rob,
    So many thanks for your useful links especially with the accommodation etc. I certainly will start in San Sebastian but am undecided if I will follow like you did and join the Original Way. I have taken on board your comments re pack size and have decided on the Osprey Kestrel 38 or 48 but also would like to take a small day pack as well. Do you recommend a light sleeping bag ? A lot to organise but that's half the fun ! I leave Australia in April 2018 and plan to travel following the Camino to see relatives in the UK then the Continent. Many thanks once again ! Silly question but I still can't work out sending private messages as it seems all my comments are on the forum which I don't mind but can you clarify this for me please ?
     
  25. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    Hi again Ampiji



    No Problem – Pleased to be of help



    Now to your latest questions



    First if all sending PM’s – Simply click on the name of the member you wish to message and it opens up a box – You will see a “Start a conversation” tab – Click on this as it opens up a page with spaces for a message title as well as the message its self :)



    Sleeping Bags – I always take an ultra light Sleeping Bag on Camino with me as I tend to stay in as many Municipal Refugio’s as I can, these sometimes only offer very basic facilities (Particularly on the less walked routes), so a Sleeping Bag can be very useful (Even on the more popular Camino’s, Municipal Refugio’s operate on a first come, first served basis, but when all the beds are taken, there is still sometimes floor space available, and having a Sleeping Bag can make the difference between a comfortable night, and a very uncomfortable one!!)



    One more thing – You might find one of my Rucksack Pro-Tector’s useful http://www.pro-tector.co.uk/ - The smallest Trekker size would probably suit your needs and would both help ensure that your rucksack got safely from Australia to San Sebastian, then could be used in its second function as a water resistant liner for your Rucksack on the walk, and if you have it transported ahead, you can then lock it to help prevent any petty pilfering – Just an idea as I have sold quite a few of these to other pilgrims walking Camino’s :)





    Good Luck and Buen Camino

    Rob
     
  26. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Ampiji - Let me just add a few ideas and reinforce some ideas others have already suggested.

    If you're already walking uphills 5 times a week, you'll be all set for your Camino. Bring fit is key to any physical endeavor! Folks who I will call " year-round athletes" most likely need to do little special training for a Camino because they're already in fine physical condition. Getting used to wearing a backpack might be the one thing to focus on. However, weight is everything! Don't carry too much! My wife and I hike with 36L Osprey packs and have more than enough room for everything we need. We also keep the packs light. I quickly learned on my first Camino that I had brought too much. A number of items were discarded before I even reached Pamplona. The weight we carried last spring was only a bit over 6 kg including our water. That light pack was delightful and made for much easier walking particularly on difficult terrain. You won't need much on your Camino, so choose your gear wisely and pack light.

    I walked the CF in the month of May and found having a 1-season sleeping bag very welcoming particularly on wet days or at higher altitudes. As my bag only weighs 1.1 pounds, it's hardly added much extra weight and as not all albergues provide blankets, I think you'll be glad to have brought one with you for the extra warmth when needed.

    Finally, both times I've walked, I've had reservations set up in private albergues. It worked out wonderfully! Since I knew my daily destination, having a bed reserved eased some of the stress others experiences wondering where the would sleep that night. In part, it depends on how crowded the Camino is when you're in it. For me, regardless of the crowd, it allowded greater flexibility to walk my own walk. There was no getting up early off on the bed rush to the next stopping point. Instead, knowing a bed was waiting for me, I could walk at the pace I wanted to and dally here and there knowing that I was already set at the end of the day. The Gronze website might help you get a sense of accomodations along the Del Norte.

    https://www.gronze.com/camino-norte

    Once you start walking, you'll quickly figure what works best for you and I'm confident that it'll all go quite splendidly. Buen Camino!
     
  27. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    Although there is certainly nothing wrong with the above general advice, Personally, I think it’s better to walk a given Camino before proffering recommendations by second guessing accommodation and posting links that you haven’t used yourself.

    Just my own thoughts :)

    Best Regards

    Rob
     
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  28. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    As you
    My advice has nothing to do with any particular Camino. Advice on fitness, backpack size and weight, sleeping bags and reservations are applicable to any Camino as you well you! Let's stay focused on helping people not criticizing others for offering general information.
     
  29. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    Wily – I have no wish to get into another argument with you (Nor to receive further PM’s with advice on Anger management)



    All that I am trying to point out is that when offering advice on a Camino, there is a high chance that the OP won’t realise whether the advice offered is based on the personal experiences of the poster, or someone making guess.

    Therefore, I only tend to advise people on routes that I have already walked myself – You posted links to a website on accommodation on a Camino that you haven’t walked, and I thought that the OP should be aware of this.
    Sorry if you think that this isn't relevant and that you believe that your “Let's stay focused on helping people not criticizing others for offering general information” is appropriate. !!



    Best Regards

    Rob
     
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  30. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Helping our fellow pilgrims is what this Forum should be about. So, let's stay focused on that goal as it will be most beneficial for everyone involved. Good general advice about fitness, packs, and reservations is appropriate regardless of the Camino one is walking. Regarding the Gronze website, it was offered as a resource for those unfamiliar with it. Stay positive RJS.
     
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