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Thinking about the Spanish Camino? We have all the imaginary questions – and all the very real answers to put you on the right path…
Know before you go
Prevention, not cure. That’s what you really need to know about blisters. So before embarking on the Camino de Santiago de Compestela - Spain’s famed 900km pilgrimage walk - pack a pair of woman’s stockings to wear underneath your socks. Hikers swear by it. Is it practical in the soaring Hispanic sun? We don’t know, but we’ll let you find out...
Okay, stockings – got it! But what is The Camino, exactly?
A journey of epic proportions, that’s what.
So you’ve decided to follow in the (literal) footpath of a thousand pilgrims; to walk the longest pilgrimage route in Europe, to the relics of the Apostle James. Quests of faith aside, maybe you’re simply intrigued by the beauty of Spain’s most infamous walking track. Either way, the 900km ‘Camino Walk‘ is an adventure of gigantic stature.
I can’t walk 900km!
Sure you can, but it’ll take you at least one month. Most pilgrims choose to walk one or two sections at a time, walking for a few days or a couple of weeks.
Great. Sign me up for the best section.
Easier said than done, amigo. All sections of The Camino have their merits, the most populous route being the Camino Francés, with plentiful pit stops, accommodation and ample sightseeing. But if you’re a pilgrim after solitude, this route is also State Highway 1 of the entire conquest.
So there's an alternative route?
Indeed. Los Caminos del Norte. Also known as The Coastal Route. Stretching as far as Galicia before turning inland towards Santiago, this stunning sea-grazing route also passes Bilbao, Gijón and San Sebastián, which was Europe’s Capital of Culture in 2016.
Tell me more
Choose the Los Caminos del Norte and your feet will tramp along the northern tip of Spain’s prettiest coastal towns. From mountains to maritime, the numerous ascents and descents can at times be challenging, but are rewarded with charming fishing villages, mouth-watering seafood and golden beaches framed by inviting azure water.
Asturias famous cider flows as freely as the rivers you’ll be crossing so you'll never be too far from a refreshing happy hour. You’ll navigate rocks, logs and muddy pathways while flirting with ocean bluffs and sheer-faced cliffs. The mountain air is fresh and seasoned with a lick of sea salt. You’re unlikely to see another soul for miles, except for curious cows and bemused donkeys, with bells around their necks and grins on their guise.
Don’t tell me I’ll be sleeping in a tent?
We won’t. You can if you wish (and many pilgrims do) but there are also plentiful hard-roofed accommodations en-route. Typically you’ll come across family owned hotels, casa rurales, rustic pensiones and ‘albergues’ (pilgrim hostels) which, albeit basic, come with a colossal-sized dose of pilgrim camaraderie and cost a mere €3-10 per night, on a first come, first serve basis.
I’m short on time, what’s unmissable?
The architectural gems, which are as numerous as they are un-crowded. From Bilbao’s Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum to sleepy Spanish towns entwined by cobbled roads and shuttered Spanish casas, every corner provides another flawless Kodak-moment. You won’t tire of the old whitewashed Basque houses dappled with window planters and hanging hydrangeas, they’re perennially beautiful.
I’m in! What do I need to take?
A lot of hard-working, sweat-wicking apparel. And the following six less-obvious items will also come in dab-handy:
And you’re off! Enjoy the bucket-list experience that is The Camino.
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