Camino de Santiago del Norte. El por qué, or the why.

The first time I heard about the Camino de Santiago was during my first year living in Spain when reading the AAA guide book to Europe. I was questioning why they included Santiago instead of Valencia or Granada after Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla. I had heard tons of good things about the autonomous community of Galicia, but I had never heard anything about Santiago de Compostela or the Camino. The story fascinated me. I visited Santiago that first Semana Santa and saw the peregrinos (pilgrims) arriving to Santiago. I cheated, taking a train from Porto to Santiago, as I was just fine with being a sightseer at that time.

Over the years, as I heard more about it, the more inspired I became about the possibility of doing it one day. After my first visit to the Basque Country in 2010, the Camino del Norte began to speak to me. The Camino del Norte became part of my Bucket List.

During my year in my Spanish home Valencia, I read a TON about the subject. I checked out several self-published books from Valencia writers about their caminos, including one who created his own Camino from Valencia to Santiago. I became more and more determined to do it.

Over the years, I’ve visited a lot of the cities on the Camino Frances, the most popular Camino that has exploded in the past few years with tourist peregrinos. León, Burgos, Logroño and Pamplona are some of the most famous, although the Navarra villages Estella and Puente de la Reina are some of the most beautiful. I always take pictures of the concha (shells) whenever I am in a place on el Camino.

Last year, I did a very small part of El Camino from Pasaia (Pasiajes) to Donostia (San Sebastián.) It was only two hours, but the call felt stronger.

I’ve been saying I was going to do an etapa (stage) all year long, and after my sprained ankle last March (Spoiler alert: there will be a future entry about bad luck on travelling, another on bad hostels, another why travelling alone is better than travelling in bad company in addition to the continuing series of Set Meravelles), I bought a guide in Spanish on the Camino del Norte to motivate myself as I healed.

Summer is winding down, and I feel unprepared. I knew doing the whole Camino was not going to be in the cards for this summer, but I am going to get it started. Due to some financial issues at the moment, I won’t be able to buy some of the basic supplies (a bigger backpack, sleeping bag, proper hiking clothes (I do have the comfortable walking shoes though) suggested. I also feel unprepared for 5 days of 20 KM hiking together.

But that is not going to stop me, as this is MY Camino. My spiritual side knows it’s about the journey, and I know this is going to be done at my pace. So on Sunday, while the city of Bilbao is still in a drunken stupor from Aste Nagusia, I will be boarding a bus from Bilbao to Irún on the Spanish-French (or Euskadi-Iparralde for the Euskal Herria folks) border to do Day One of the Camino. Yes, it’s going to be one day this time around, but as I go gathering strength and confidence and build my supplies, I will be able to do more and more. For next summer, I hope to be able to walk from Ribadesella in Asturias to Santiago and Finisterre.

The Camino del Norte is going to be a way of finding myself, and it’s going to be a spiritual journey. Needless to say, I am freaking the freak out right now. However, if I don’t get started now, it could turn out to be something that gets indefinitely postponed until it’s too late.

Carpe diem, folks. Carpe diem.


9 thoughts on “Camino de Santiago del Norte. El por qué, or the why.

  1. So excited for you! I think this will be an amazing experience and can’t wait to hear about it when you return.


  2. Hi! I know this post is old to most…. but exciting for me having just found it! I found your blog through Camino Times Two and am loving both blogs. You write here: “Camino del Norte began to speak to me. The Camino del Norte became part of my Bucket List.” This has just happened to me too… I have quite suddenly made a plan to prepare to start the Camino later this year, and del Norte just speaks to me — for a winter walk for some reason too. Life is funny — I grew up in Champaign and then a small town outside it, but today live in the West and in the mountains. Reading your posts leaves me feeling a little homesick for Central Illinois, and satisfied that I have I had a touch of home reading your blog. While at the same time, you are pointing me north towards the Camino. Thank you so much — PS you list St. Louis as a bucket list town: great choice. It’s a big small town with a huge heart. Have fun, and have some frozen custard… Wishing you all the best. in 2019.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, thanks for your comment and for reading my blog!

      If you’re going to do el Camino del Norte in the winter, be prepared for a lot of rain! I lived in Bilbao and it rained every day from Jan. 7 to March 7, a sunny weekend and then two more months of rain! A lot of albergues are closed, but some are open. You might have to stay in more pensiones (cheap family-ran hotel). But then you might luck out with the weather as last winter was mild, from what I hear. So as long as you go prepared for rain, go for the winter walk 😀

      I miss the mountains and the ocean of Spain in Champaign but love UIUC. The grass is always greener!

      I’ll be passing through St. Louis in July to cross the Arch off my bucket list, finally!

      All the best to you and let me know how your plans go!


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