Solitude, scenery, and seafood: The benefits and downsides of Camino del Norte

Isolated stretch of Camino del Norte trail with a view of the North Atlantic

 

There are numerous Camino routes throughout Europe, including Camino Francés, the most popular walk and the one featured in a favorite movie of ours, The Way.  So why, then, did we choose to walk one of the lesser known routes, Camino del Norte?

We had a particular vision for what we wanted in our Camino experience, and Dale did some serious homework to find the trail that most matched that vision:

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Camino del Norte Day 9: Worth the hike

October 9, 2015

Bilbao to La Playa de La Arena, 15 miles

The guidebook’s description of today’s leg of the journey was less than inspiring: “As you slog through the first half of today’s stage, remind yourself that by day’s end you will be in a beautiful place…. Sometimes bleak, often forgettable, the walk… is poorly way-marked and best finished quickly and put behind you.”

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Camino del Norte Days 7 & 8: Bilbao

Our view of Bilbao from Monte Avril as we hiked into town.
Our view of Bilbao from Monte Avril as we approached town.

 

October 7, 2015

Zamudio to Bilbao, 5 miles

We were excited about today’s destination: Bilbao.  The week before starting the Camino, Dale and I had spent a night in Bilbao with our friend Tamara, and it had been a great experience.  We stayed at an Air B&B apartment in the city’s historic city center, known as the Seven Streets, and it was charming, with lots of restaurants, panaderias, pastelerias, and even a chocolateria or two.  And it was in Bilbao that we were introduced to the sublime pleasure of eating Basque food.

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Camino del Norte day 5: Gernika

October 5, 2015
Monastery de Zenarruza to Gernika: 10 miles
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Message spray painted on the side of a building in Gernika, requesting that political prisoners be returned home. We saw similar illustrations throughout our walk through the Basque Country.

 

Feeling fully restored after an evening at the monastery, the hike to Gernika was beautiful and relaxing.

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Camino del Norte Day 4: R&R at the monastery

October 4, 2015
Markina to Monasterio de Zenarruza: 5 miles

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Instead of a good morning or how are you, I’m pretty sure that the first word out of my mouth today was, “Nope.”

Followed by: “I’m not getting out of this bed.”

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Camino del Norte day 3: Meltdown

October 3, 2015
Deba to Markina: 15 miles

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It was bound to happen at some point during the hike: total meltdown.

All the PMA that I had channeled on the previous days wasn’t going to get me anywhere today.  Not meditation, not smiling, not listening to the wind flowing through the branches or the birds singing in the trees.  Uh-uh.  None of it was working.

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Camino del Norte Day 1: Here we go!

First day on the Camino del Norte in Spain

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October 1, 2015
Day 1: San Sebastián to Orio: 11 miles

Today we started hiking the Camino del Norte, the northern route of the Camino de Santiago, in Spain.  This journey will take us anywhere from 4-5 weeks to complete.

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