Pilgrims of all shapes, sizes, goals, missions and strength take to the variety of Camino de Santiago’s routes every day. The Camino de Santiago – Frances http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Way_of_St._James is the most popular route which goes through by the inland passage and is the route which the popular movie “The Way” with Martin Sheen is about. After riding the world’s flattest country of northern Europe, then the steepest country of the Pyrenees we decided to join the forces and chose the Camino de Santiago “Del Norte” route, or the “Coastal Route” http://www.csj.org.uk/route-coastal-route.htm that follows roughly the north coast of Spain. This route starts in Irun of Southern France and runs 523 miles to finish in Santiago, Spain. The guide we’ve been using is the Camino Del Norte en BTT, by Juanjo Alonzo, which is the mountain bike guide for the route.
We’re sure it’s an excellent guide if you can read Spanish. For us the maps and profile charts are awesome and between the two of us we can read enough of the text to get us from day to day.
The route is divided up into 13 days which are all doable yet still challenging for sure. At the moment we’re at the halfway point.
So…. A little about the route….. Most people walk this route and all we can say is bless their hearts and may the force be with them. While this is an awesome bike tour, the amount of time on tarmac would beat the soul out of most of us spoiled folks who think that hiking should be on trails. People seem to love it and ALWAYS smile and say. “bien camino” as we fly by on our bikes.
An average group heading out fresh in the morning.
Most all of them have this shell or conch attached to their packs which takes on mythical, metaphorical and practical purposes http://www.otherspain.com/pages/writing/scallop.asp
And after about 100 miles we started seeing a lot of knee braces and limping.
And, as always, some interesting characters.
Most, if not all, Pilgrims stay in albergues which are hostels that run anywhere from donations to about $15 per night. For us we’ve been following the daily mileage guide, camping and staying out of restaurants.
And eating well…
During the day we chase yellow arrows that are painted, for better or worse, along the entire route. Sometimes following them is effortless, other times practically impossible. Occasionally there are alternate routes for “bici” or bicycles.
If we lose our arrows we can always pick them up again as the route goes past most churches.
Like this amazing cathedral..
The type of riding surfaces vary…
To dirt roads…
To urban riding and a lot of pavement.
To ferry boat rides…
Where Pilgrims get a break…. .
And at times, on the trail…. Trusting souls leave delightful surprises….
And, as always, we see plenty of pretty things.
At the moment we are at the halfway point and for the record, just saying, WE ARE TIRED!!!!
We passed a little Rural Casa http://catavino.net/casa-rurales-the-best-way-to-explore-spain/ in Villaviciosa yesterday morning at 8:00 AM, knocked on the door, a really nice lady let us in, the place was pretty and clean and we were badly in need of a break…. Here we are on day two and we’ve been sleeping and eating and taking lots of badly needed showers… We’re feeling better and by tomorrow we’ll be good to go..
In the two months since we’ve been out we’ve taken 4 days off the bike logging in over 2000 miles, and yes, we still love it, and yes we’re totally happy with the routes we’ve chosen, couldn’t be better, but once we hit Santiago you can trust that our Web searches are going to be for something like this… Most likely off the coast of Portugal.
If anyone has info on Portugal please, please, please, let us know…..
And, as always, we miss everyone at home and life there is fresh in our minds and hearts making the thought of being gone for a whole year a little bit challenging, but we run into reminders that make us smile
Kent and Shawna.. This is for you…. This guy was paddling about 2 miles and TOTALLY booking it, probably late to work.
And Cass…. This one’s for you.
So, for now….. Bien Camino!!!!!!!!
Much love, Patti and Gary