Camino Del Norte: First Impressions

Days 8 & 9

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When we walked out of Bilbao to Portugalete, it was easy, mostly along a water access, and took us about 3-4 hours. Which means, that we got to our final destination by noon. It seemed much too quick, and at this point, I was already nervous that we wouldn’t have enough time to finish the Camino before our plane was scheduled to go back to the states. But we had to get some stuff to help us progress on our journey (Like a rain jacket for me since we were expecting a lot of rain on the Northern Route), and there were sporting-goods stores in Portugalete where we spent the rest of the afternoon shopping.

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Street in Portugalete

The next morning we walked out of Portugalete towards Castro Urdiales, and this was the day that we really started patting ourselves on the back for making the right choice to switch caminos. This was the first day we really saw the ocean in all of its glory and the views were incredible! And from here on out, it just got to be more and more beautiful.

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We started to see a number of cats on the Camino Norte. These guys were hiding in the grass just off the trail. Further down, we passed a guy who was feeding all the stray cats (About 30 of them) it was awesome.

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The coastal towns were completely different from the Spanish villages we’d walked through on the Camino Frances: There were a lot more ruins and old cathedrals that were not refurbished.

This was the day that we started to meet our fellow pilgrims. There were much fewer along this Camino. The ones we met, we’d often see at the end of each day, simply because there were less albergues and we were all walking about the same distance. It was nice, we established more of a connection with these pilgrims, finally finding our Camino Family.

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Church of Santa Maria Assunta, Castro Urdiales

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I believe the Camino Norte can seem very touristy in the summer time. You will walk through a lot of Spain’s prime surf country and beach towns. However, since we were there in late September, the towns were quiet of tourists. It felt like we were the only foreigners (the Pilgrims) and therefore we were able to really see the Spanish people like they are: animated and boisterous, kind and hospitable, loud and helpful. These people all seemed to love that we were “Peregrinos” and would want to talk to us about our journey, or share stories of their town and the surroundings. This is when Kelsy and I were really wishing we could speak more Spanish. This is also when we probably learned the most Spanish simply because so many people didn’t speak any English. Yet they still tried to be helpful or give insight on what’s to come. It was absolutely delightful. This was the Camino experience we were looking for.

 

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