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Del Norte 2018 Stages Summary

Here are the stages we did in our 2018 walk along the Camino Del Norte.

1 – Irun to San Sebastián – 19 miles

2 – San Sebastián to Zarautz – 13 miles

1 – Zarautz to Deba – 14 miles

1 – Deba to Markina Xemein – 15 miles

5 – Markina Xemein to Bilbao – 31 miles by bus

6 – Bilbao to Castro Urdialles – 17 miles walking, 12 miles by subway

7 – Castro Urdialles to Laredo – 10 miles walking, 9.3 miles by bus

8 – Laredo to Guemes – 18 miles

9 – Guemes to Boos de Pielagos – 15 miles, 5 miles by train

10 – Boos de Pielagos to Santillana Del Mar – 13 miles, 3.7 miles by train

11 – Santillana Del Mar to Comillas – 18 miles by bus

12 – Comillas to Colombres – 18 miles

13 – Colombres to Llanes – 16 miles

14 – Llanes to Ribadesella – 19 miles

15 – Ribadesella to Aviles – 57 miles by bus

16 – Aviles to Muros de Nalon – 14.5 miles

16 – Muros de Nalon to Soto De Luina – 10.2 miles

17 – Soto De Luina to Cadavedo – 12 miles

18 – Cadavedo to Luarca / La Caridad – 10 miles, 19 miles by bus

19 – Luarca / La Caridad to Ribadeo – 14.2 miles

20 – Ribadeo to Abadin / Castromaior – 3.5 miles walking, 30.8 miles by bus

21 – Abadin / Castromaior to Baamonde – 21 miles

22 – Baamonde to Sebrayo – 22 miles

23 – Sebrayo to Arzua – 12 miles

24 – Arzua to Pedrouzo – 12.4 miles

25 – Pedfrozo to Santiago de Compostella – 12 miles


Mileage Summary

Walking – 330.8 miles

Bus – 165.1 miles

Train – 20.7 miles

Total – 516.6 miles

Random Thoughts on the Norte

Here are some random final thoughts after doing the Norte:

  • First Week is Tough – I read it, and it’s true. Don’t give up
  • Dryer Sheets – bring some in a ziplock bag.- with only two set of clothes you wash them a lot. We jumped at every opportunity to use a washer and dryer, but forgot about all the static!
  • Guidebooks – we had two different ones with us (Village to Village and Wise Pilgrim). I think the Village to Village book is best organized into stages and has the information presented concisely and structured. It is also a little thinner. I liked the Cicerone book the least and left it at home
  • Smartphone App – We had the Wise Pilgrim app with the corresponding map app and it helped. Even in airplane mode on the phone you could see the route as dots on a map and a dot where you are. On or off the route! We also had the Buen Camino app and used Gronze web site.
  • Head Lamp Depending on the time of year you go and what time you plan to start waking in the morning, you may need a head lamp. In late October sunrise was not until 8.05 am after Daylight Savings Time ended. It was closer to 9 am before that.
  • Rain Poncho – You likely will need one. Make sure it fits over your back pack and covers your pack and your backside. I also brought a thin, lightweight nylon web belt to keep the poncho from flying around on windy days
  • Layers of Clothing – I know you probably know this already, but keep it in mind when you are packing. You want to put on layers or take them off easily. You may get hot when walking and cool down quickly when not.
  • Ziplock Bags – Bring an assortment of sizes
  • Vasolene – we applied it daily to our feet. Really helps cut down the friction, calluses, and blisters.
  • Electrical plug socket converter single to multiple – allows you to share electrical. Inner kind with others using US plug. There are sometimes not a lot of electrical outlets in a room.
  • Toe socks – I really liked them and I think it was the key for me not getting any blisters. They took some getting used to them in training, but I now love them. In previous Caminos I wore liners and outer socks. This time only a single layer of toe socks
  • Fanny Pack – wore it every day with valuables and a snack or two. Wore it in front for easy access: backpack was in the back, duh!
  • Sunglasses – you will likely need them.
  • Hydration Tube System – I used one that connected to typical half liter water bottles (bought it at Amazon) that were in the backpack side pockets. Didn’t have to reach back for bottles to drink and I think I stayed better hydrated.
  • Shoes – I prefer low cut hiking shoes. They provided enough stability for rocky paths (which there seemed to be a lot). No need for high top boots. My hiking partner hiked in Keen sandals and occasionally Chacos and didn’t have any problems when wearing socks, IMO waterproof shoes should be avoided; if water gets in (running down your leg in the rain or step in a deep puddle) the water doesn’t easily get out and you are shloshing around with every step

Camino Arrows

Although we have guide books for general reference. We follow yellow arrows or a shell shape the whole way. Through forests, city streets, country lanes, farm fields and everywhere in between.

You can find painted arrows on way markers, trees, stones, the back of street signs, on curbs, buildings and even a garbage can!

Just about the time you think “am I on the path” an arrow seems to pop up. Sometimes you come up to an intersection or fork in the road and you really have look hard to find the arrow, but there usually is one.

2018 Camino Del Norte Albergue Summary

Day 1 – Irun – Muni

Seemed like a big Albergue, but run efficiently.

Easy walk from the train station.

Nice breakfast.

I think it’s a good place to stay so you meet others starting when you do.

Day 2 – San Sebastián – Downtown River Hostel

Not exclusively for pilgrims.

Day 3 – San Sebastián – Hotel Maria Cristina

Day 4 – Zarautz – Txiki Polit Hotel

Day 5 – Deba – Muni Albergue

In the upper floors of the old train station. It was good.

Day 6 – Markina-Xemein – Convento

The sleeping room seemed cave-like, but it was ok. Perhaps because it was still early on the camino and we were so excited.

The hospitaleros were nice.

Day 7 & 8 – Bilbao – Hotel Bilbao Jardines

We stayed two nights so we could explore the city. The hotel was in a good location.

Day 9 – Castro Urdialles – Hosteria Villa de Castro

Muni was full and had to walk back to find a hotel.

Was very happy with the Hosteria Villa de Castro. The hosteria is located on the second and upper floors above the corner storefront.

Decorations within the hotel were a little dated and worn; it felt like walking into grandma’s house. But it was clean and the place seemed to have positive energy. Perhaps it came from the really nice and caring young woman working the front desk.

Day 10 – Laredo – Casa de la Trinidad Albergue

After registering with the nun (in full habit) she brought us to a nice small room with two single beds. I’m sure a nun living quarters at some time in the past.

It’s a little room but nice views of the old city (if you can get past the private clothes line we have here on the third floor outside the window).

Included a “cake” breakfast. How can you go wrong with cake for breakfast!

Day 11 – Guemes – La Cabana Del Abuela Peyton

Middle of nowhere. Donativo. I liked the place. Lots of beds in rooms holding about 10 to 12 pilgrims. They serve a great dinner and a breakfast.

There is a “Jim Jonesy” type of gathering where you learn about the place, it’s founder and mission.

They also have coin operated washing machines and dryer.

All-in-all, I liked the place and enjoyed the experience

Day 12 – Boo

Day 13- Santillana Del Mar – Convento

Day 14 – Comillas – Posada La Solana Montañesa

Day 15 – Colombres – Albergue El Cantu

I can’t say strong enough to stay away from this place. 12€ cost and the facilities are not very good. The woman checking us in was somewhat unpleasant and rooms & beds seem dirty. They have a single bathroom that is for both sexes without proper accommodation for privacy in the shower area to dress. Stay away.

Day 16 – Llanes – Albergue Estación

We have a room for four, but we have it to ourselves. Cost was €29 for two.

Day 17- Ribadesella – Pensión Arbidel

Great little place. Charming. In the old part of town, near shopping, restaurants, and the port.

Highly recommend this place.

Day 18 – Avilés – Hotel Don Pedro

Older funky hotel, but nice. There is a charm to it. Great location in central city. Clean.

58€ for two people, one room, two beds

Day 19 – Muros de Nalón – Albergue Camino de la Costa

Real nice place, easy to find, right between the church and Town Hall in the city center at top of hill. 10€ per person for room with 2 bunk beds. They have a double room and private room. Very nice Hospitalero. Ate at restaurant right across square. Dia Supermercado is not far, but down a steep hill. We were planning on staying at Casa Carmina (we saw it coming into town) but it was closed for vacation. I think Albergue Camino de la Costa is a better location.

Day 20 – Soto de Luiña – Muni

Big Albergue. We were in a room that slept 24 (I think). Great bathroom facilities, separate for men and women. Coin operated washer and dryer. WIFI.


At first it can seem overwhelming big and spartan, but I liked it after all.

Easy to find. Stay on the Main Street past the church (yellow arrows have you turn right). Past the Dia supermercado, turn right and you should see the big building.

Day 21 – Cadavedo – Casa Ina

A really nice place. Good location in the small town, really close to the supermerado (closed on Sunday) and a restaurant, La Regalina.

They have great off season rates for pilgrims (15€ each for a double room) that includes a small kitchenette.

They also will wash and dry laundry for 6€.

They also have WIFI.

Day 22 – La Caridad – La Xana Albergue, a private hostel.

It’s at the beginning of the town. It’s fine and has a very nice Hospitalera. We are paying 15€ each for a private room with two beds and a private bath. I think the rate for a dorm room is 11€ a night.

They also have a nice back patio and yard to relax

Dia grocery store in town.

Day 23 – Ribadeo- Hotel Santa Cruz

Nice small hotel on the Camino path not far from the main Plaza Espana. Front desk guy was really nice and showed us two rooms and let us pick.

Very close to an Eroski grocery store.

Double room was 20€ per person. Includes breakfast.

Has a nice modern bathroom.

Hotel also had a bar that served some food. They also did our laundry for 6€.

We first stopped at Hotel Ros Mary. The lobby smelled of cigarette smoke and the room they showed us was really dark and depressing. I would not recommend the place.

Day 24 – Abadín / Castromaíor – Albergue O Xistral

A must stay place. Just xx km past Abadín in the countryside. We had planned on staying in Abadín, but upon arrival it didn’t seem to have much appeal so reading ahead in the guidebook lead us to this oasis in the country.

The owners, Paula and Angel are so welcoming a kind, it feels like I am a guest in their home. Six bunk beds in the room we are in.

The house is beautiful both inside and out. It’s so quiet and peaceful. The one thing I hear is the sound of a trowel as two men are rebuilding a Galician stone wall in back.

Not a site you see every day!

Highly recommend the place.

12€ a night.

Day 25 – Baamonde- Municipal Albergue

Nice Albergue. Rooms have between 4 and 6 beds in a room in bunk beds. Bathroom was fine.

Kitchen was pretty spartan with a hot plate and a sink.

6€ a night.

Day 26 – Sobrado – Albergue Lecer

Private albergue; nice place. The larger dorm room seemed to have subsections with walls on the sides of some bunk beds.

Great bathroom. Has a washer and dryer. Close to grocery stores and food.

10€ a night. Main dormitory has 28 beds in bunk beds.

Recommend this place.

Day 27 – Arzúa – Albergue Casa Del Peregrino

A nice place, along the Frances route, close to the Muni Albergue. On the second floor. Bright and cheery place.

10€ price.

15 beds in the room. Very clean; even smells clean. Fairly new. Nice bathrooms and a kitchen that is fairly well equipped.

Short walk to three grocery stores. Highly recommend this place.

Day 28 – Pedrouzo – Porta de Santiago Albergue

Nice and modern Albergue right on the main Street in town. Restaurants across the street and convenient.

Modern bathrooms. Recommend this place.

Day 29 – Santiago de Compostella- Seminario Mayor

A nice place to stay because of its location across a street from the cathedral and the history of the building.

This is an old seminary and the rooms are the old semanarian quarters. We had a room that had been updated (that may make it sound better than it is) but it did have a private bath. It was fine.

And it is just across from the Cathedral so the location is great. Cost was 70€ for a double room, breakfast included.

They have smaller, more spartan rooms with beds and toilet for 25€ a night. Shower is down the hall. Supposedly these rooms do not have WiFi, but the upgraded rooms and lobby does have it.

They have a large breakfast buffet that is included in the price.

Day 29 – Santiago de Compostella

Rest day. Rainy, rest day. Rainy forecast.

We made the decision not to walk on to Finesterre and Muxia. Too much rain in the forecast.

We walked around Santiago quite a bit to do some shopping and just take in this beautiful city.

We’ve been looking for Fabada beans and other ingredients for making Fabada Asturianas, a bean and chorizo stew. Success, we found the main ingredients needed.

We really wrestled with our original plans to stay in Spain until November 6.and decided to come home early since we’re not walking on to Finesterre. We both were successful booking flights tomorrow (October 31) through Bilbao and London. With that decision made, we seemed to be at peace knowing it was best for each of us. I’ve been away from home since September 11 and miss Sixto.

We stopped by the Pilgrims Office to get a Compostella, a certificate showing we completed the Norte pilgrimage. The lines weren’t too bad and it’s fun talking to the pilgrims in line about there Camino experience.

They study your credential looking at the sellos (stamps) you have received along the way.

and ask questions to validate we walked the minimum requirement of 100 km. We definitely did!

Here is the Compostela.

For lunch we stopped at a small restaurant near the pilgrim office.

The highlight was lentil soup!

I look forward to making both the lentil soup and Fabada on an upcoming cold Chicago winter day.

We both did a little souvenir shopping since we are leaving tomorrow.

While walking back to the hospederia that we are staying at, I ran into a nice Korean guy who stayed at the Albergue in Logroño when I was a Hospitalero there nearly four weeks ago. He was so kind and remembered me at the Logroño Albergue and wanted to say thanks for being so kind to him and my cooking. He gave me a big hug.

While part of this Camino has been tough walking, overall it has been a good experience and I am really happy to have served as Hospitalero in Logroño. I may do it again.

As the weather turns colder and rainy, the decision to go home tomorrow is confirmed as the right one for me.

In summary, we walked 334 miles and took a bus or train 145 miles. We started in Irun, Spain, on the French border, along the coast, on October 2 and completed the camino 28 days later here in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

It was a difficult walk at times. We chose some paths off the regular routes to be closer to the sea; we climbed over mountains and some pretty steep inclines and declines. Paths were sometimes smooth on pavement, on dirt on gravel, on sandy beaches, through mud puddles, and even on real difficult rocky terrain, and dodging or jumping over mud, and from an unfortunate personal experience, falling backwards in the mud once.

For me, the first day was a killer and I almost abandoned the entire Camino, but an unplanned rest day allowed my body and mind to recover a bit and keep moving. We also walked under beautiful sunny days, damp foggy mornings, overcast skies, and through rain.

We both are proud to have completed the Camino Del Norte.

Time to go to bed so I can catch at early flight to Bilbao.

More later


Day 28 – Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostella (12 miles)

We made it! We started walking in a light drizzle in the dark, but we lucked out as the rain really held off while we walked.

We put our rain gear on and off a couple of times during the day, but happily dodged big rain.

Because of the gloomy weather I don’t have a lot of pictures from the morning.

It was still a bit foggy when we walked past the end of the runway for the Santiago Airport.

I thought I was following Little Red Riding Hood, but it was only Judy in her “big red” poncho/coat.

Soon we were at Monto Gozo. It’s a high point that overlooks Santiago and is the first view of the Cathedral towers in the distance. There is a small chapel there and a fairly modern sculpture commemorating a Papal visit in the past.

Despite the overcast skies, we could make out the Cathedral towers in the distance.

Excitement grows the closer you get to Santiago.

We were following the trail through the city that was marked with signs and brass shells in the sidewalk.

The first sighting of the cathedral towers since arriving in the city.

The Porta do Camiño is the location of one of the official gates into the old city when it was walled.

Having been here twice before I knew where to go. We first went to the Seminario Mayor which was where we were planning on staying.

This is an old seminary and the rooms are the old semanarian quarters. We had a room that had been updated (that may make it sound better than it is) but it did have a private bath. It was fine.

And it is just across from the Cathedral so the location is great. Cost was 70€ for a double room, breakfast included.

After dropping off our backpacks we went over to the Cathedral.

It is so large and majestic. In the large plaza in front of the Cathedral, Praza do Obradoiro, there is a sense of great excitement and joy as pilgrims walk in to take pictures of the Cathedral and themselves in front to mark the end of their pilgrimage.

We visited the inside of the Cathedral and walked behind the altar for the obligatory hug to back of the Santiago (St. James) stature at the back of the main altar.

We went to the Pilgrims Mass at 7:30 pm and were happy to see the great botofumiero swing at the end of mass. It’s a really large incense burner that is swung from the rafters by six guys pulling on a rope.

It’s quite a sight to see. A real crowd pleaser!

Really tired, it was easy to fall asleep.

More later,


Day 27 – Arzúa to Pedrouzo (12.4 miles)

Light rain off and on today, but we decided to walk.

We didn’t leave the albergue until 9:20 am; we first thought we would take the 12:30 pm bus, but the sun was starting to come out so we ultimately decided to walk, with rain gear handy.

Here’s a view of the sky as we were departing.

We walked past this bar that used old beer bottles as ornament. It may be hard to tell in the picture below, but they were all over the place with patron signatures and messages on them.

Here we are in full rain gear.

We started out dry and put the gear on and took it off a couple of times today. Ultimately we kept it on to the end of the walking day.

We are staying at the Albergue Porta de Santiago, where we stayed in 2014. It’s modern, clean, and has a nice feel. Quiet elevator music piped into the albergue and soft lighting. 10€ a night.

We went to eat at a restaurant across the street. I had a green pea and bacon dish for an appetizer.

I know it sounds a bit strange, but it tasted good, and I needed more vegetables. Bacon doesn’t sound too bad either. I had Zorza for my main dish; it’s spiced pork pieces and had French fries with it.

That along with dessert, wine and water cost 10£ as part of the menu of the day.

We’re doing laundry, in machines, which is a luxury, after hand washing and hanging clothes to dry on a line. It’s too wet to hang anything up to dry today.

We are only 12 miles away from Santiago de Compostella and should arrive around noon or 1 pm tomorrow. We plan to spend two nights there.

Our plans post SDC are still up in the air. If rain persists we will not walk to Finesterre and Muxia, but could take a bus. I’m not sure I want to walk there even if it is not raining. Rain is forecasted.

Our return flights are not until November 6. We may try to come home earlier if the airlines and availability work out. Just not sure yet.

More later