I’ve returned home from my European summer adventures, and have so much to share. I’d had good intentions of blogging while I was away, but it seems that in the last few years, “live” blogging from my Camino has become quite difficult. I love capturing the photos and notes and details while I’m in the moment, but I’ve moved away from doing that on the blog (if you aren’t following on Instagram, you can go over there and scroll back a bit to see some photos from my walk!).
But I do have a slew of post ideas now that I’m back. I also have thousands of photos that I’m not entirely sure what to do with (well, I suppose in this digital age we ALL have thousands of photos that we’re not quite sure what to do with). My new camera was a great success; before my trip I bought myself a Fujifilm X-T20 Mirrorless digital camera with a 35mm lens, and while I still have a lot to learn, the Camino was an excellent training ground. I wore the camera around my shoulder every day as I walked, and alternated between using that and my iPhone to capture and record my Camino.
So with all of these photos in mind, I thought I would start with a post that captures some of my favorite images from the Camino del Norte. This was the second time I walked a section of the Norte (this year I walked from Irun to Oviedo, a total of 19 days), and the coastal scenery reminded me again why I love this Camino. It’s the coastal walking, yes, but as I’ve begun to go through my photos, I realize that there’s so much other beauty, too. I had a lot of gray and rainy weather, but I also had beautiful, soft mornings when the mist created magical blankets and the sun filtered through the clouds and created golden rays of light. I look through my photos and I’m reminded again that the Norte provides lots of animal encounters: cows and horses and goats and sheep and cats and dogs (and this year, lots of puppies!). There are rolling hills and the outline of mountains and vibrant cities and sleepy towns.
And there’s the coast, the blue and wild and often empty coast, rocky and jagged and windswept.
I doubt I’ll write detailed daily recap posts from this year’s walk on the Norte (you can start here to read about my past walk, in 2015); but I do want to share parts of this trek. So for now, I’ll begin with 15 photos that will make you fall in love with the Camino del Norte. These are 15 photos that I look at and I find myself in love all over again, already wanting to return, to walk a third time, to just walk it again and again and again. I’m not sure if and when I’d ever return- there are just too many other walks out there and my feet are itching for new terrain- but in the meantime I have these memories.
Here they are, 15 photos that will make you fall in love with the Camino del Norte!
1. Horse on a hill outside of Zumaia (Day 3); in the far right corner of this photo you might be able to see the sea; the views were incredible here even under gray skies, but it was this horse, grazing on the slanted hillside, that caught my eye.
2. Archway in the Monastery de Zenarruza, Ziortza (Day 4). There is an Albergue at this monastery, where I stayed in 2015. Because it was one of my favorite places to stay on the Norte I made sure to stop here again, and it did not disappoint. The location is stunning: set up high in the hills, isolated and quiet, with a long terrace and a peaceful cloister, a communal meal and artisanal beer brewed by the monks.
3. Strutting rooster and pilgrim laundry (Day 5). Just a typical late afternoon albergue scene on the Camino! This was Caserio Pozueta, an albergue 5.3km past Gernika. Not only were there chickens and roosters roaming around, but there were four 5-week old puppies! This was a private albergue where the family lived in one part of the building and ran an albergue in the other. Their young boys helped show pilgrims to their bunkrooms, and the communal evening meal was one of the best on my Camino.
4. Walking out of Bilbao (Day 7). I often find large cities on the Camino to be overwhelming, and sometimes I find myself passing through rather than staying the night. But my favorite thing about staying in cities might be leaving the next morning: the streets are quiet, people are still sleeping, the air is soft and the city is yours. There are several Camino route options when leaving Bilbao, and having taken two of them, I’d highly recommend walking with the river to your left. This photo was taken looking back on Bilbao as I walked away; further ahead I would pass the stunning building of the Guggenheim, and later would get to take a transporter bridge across the river to Portugalete.
5. Goat on coast (Day 8). Another animal photo, but I couldn’t help it, I’d just be walking along, another heavy cloud day on the coast, and then I’d see a goat, and then another, and they’d just be set so perfectly against that great blue water that I had to take photo after photo.
6. My favorite stretch of coast, before the descent into Laredo (Day 9).
7. Pilgrim still-life on beach (Day 10). This rock with the big yellow arrow is on the beach that leads to Noja, just after you descend the steep Colina de El Brusco. Beach walking on the Camino del Norte is the best! And that includes getting sand in your shoes (although what’s also best is taking off your shoes and socks, feeling the sand between your toes, and walking in the water for a bit).
8. Soft morning light, countryside after Guemes (Day 11).
9. Sunrise leaving Santander (Day 12). Another beautiful and quiet morning as I left a big city; I took a coastal alternative out of Santander and while this wasn’t an official Camino route and the added kilometers set me a stage back from many of the pilgrims I’d gotten to know, most of the day was full of the stunning views and so much beauty.
10. Sunrise cobwebs (Day 15). I think the mornings were my very favorite time on the Camino; on this day, leaving Serdio, I had the most beautiful, soft light and a hovering fog that burned away once the sun fully rose.
11. Coastal alternative to Pendueles (Day 15). This was also the Camino of alternate routes; I took as many as I could if it meant that I could walk along the coast.
12. The bougainvillea on the church wall in Llanes (Day 16). I love this landscaping, I love the contrast of the purple against the white, I love the twisting roots and the old stone wall.
13. Another photo of a horse, because there hasn’t been an animal photo in awhile (Day 17).
14. And another shot of the coast, because it’s the Camino del Norte and many believe that the coastal walks make this the most beautiful Camino of them all! (Day 17)
15. Early morning in Oviedo, with cathedral enveloped in fog (Day 19). I ended this year’s Camino in Oviedo, which is quickly becoming my favorite city in Spain.
So those are 15 of my favorite photos from this year’s Camino del Norte; there are many more to share and hopefully I’ll weave them into more blog posts soon. In the meantime, if these photos did encourage you to start planning a Camino, you can check out these past posts:
Which is better? The Camino Frances or the Camino del Norte?
Favorite Albergues on the Camino del Norte Part One
Favorite Albergues on the Camino del Norte Part Two
Like a Rolling Stone: Day One on the Camino del Norte, Irun to San Sebastian
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