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The Northern Caminos: Norte, Primitivo and Ingl̩s Paperback РApr 30 2013

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Cicerone Press Limited; 2 edition (April 30 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 185284681X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852846817
  • Product Dimensions: 11.7 x 2.3 x 17 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 381 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #395,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Dave Whitson has walked extensively on pilgrim roads in Europe. A teacher in Portland, Oregon, he has led seven student group pilgrimages, including four on the Franc?s and one on the Norte. He has walked the Norte and Primitivo three times.

Laura Perazzoli was a student on one of Dave's first group pilgrimages, on the Franc?s. She has since led her own groups on the Franc?s and Norte. She walked the Norte and Primitivo in 2009 and 2011, and the Ingl?s in 2011.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book provided us with all the information we needed to ensure our Camino experience was a success. Great detailing, phone numbers up to date and suggestions for hotels were credible. We found many great places to stay, visit, and eat in the pages of this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thank you for your attention to my order. I will look forward to using the book on a future trip
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars 19 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Helpful, but deeply flawed May 15 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I used this book for my camino of about 5 weeks starting in late March, 2014. I walked the Camino del Norte from Irun to Sebrayo, then the Primativo to Arzua, and the Camino Frances briefly into Santiago. This was my third camino. I used the digital version, downloaded to a Kindle. (I did this partly in reaction to comments of other reviewers of the hardcopy book, indicating that the book is unnecessarily bulky and heavy. I think this was a good decision.)

I found the book helpful, but not adequate for navigating the caminos. I think there are very good camino guides in Spanish and German -- if you have a working knowledge of those languages I would suggest that you use one of them instead of this book. I had previously used John Brierley's camino guides (in English) for walking the Camino Frances, Camino Portugués, and Camino Finisterre. They are vastly superior to this Cicerone Northern Caminos guide. But if you are walking the Del Norte or Primativo and English is your language, I guess this is the only or best book available.

The narrative for planning is generally accurate and helpful. This is a highly subjective and personal consideration.

History and Culture:
The day by day narrative describing history and cultural points along the way is fairly good. I would personally like a little more, but it's ok.

The book uses copies of maps from the National Geographic Institute of Spain. These are very poor and pretty close to useless. They just don't have the resolution and detail to be useful.

The map for each day is chopped up into short segments to fit on the width of the book's narrow pages. Often the place names, highway numbers, and other labels are chopped up in the process. Also each segment is tightly cropped and the edges feathered so that you don't see much context of what's nearby. Because of this, intersecting roads and highways are often not labeled on the map -- the labeling apparently is cropped off. Sometimes even the road that the camino follows is not labeled! While walking, I could see the sea or a town that was not on the map -- cropped off. I believe they did this because somebody thinks the maps look prettier as small, tight, floaty clouds, with lots of space (wasted) around them but they are maddeningly impractical. On at least one day, the segments are out of sequence -- I puzzled over the segments all day long trying to figure out where I was on the maps.

Also there is little or no information of elevation change. The closest indication is a 1 - 5 rating of the day's terrain difficulty and daily total meters ascent and descent. The guide gives no indication where the ascent or descent occurs. For me, I take this information into consideration when deciding where to start and stop each day, where to rest, where to eat, etc. If there's a 300 meter ascent in the final kilometer of a day, I probably would not choose to have a big meal with wine just before that.

There are NO detailed maps of cities and towns! This is amazing especially because several cities/towns on these caminos have NO WAYMARKS at all. (A fact that the book does not tell you!)

By contrast, John Brierley's books contain distinctively drawn color maps of the route, arranged vertically on the long page in the direction of the walking. There are separate detailed maps of significant towns and cities showing the location of albergues, grocery stores, restaurants, etc.

Navigation narrative:
The book provides a narrative of each day's walk, including the villages, hamlets, cafe bars, albergues, and points of interest along the camino route. Some of this is quite helpful.

The narrative seemingly gives a turn-by-turn description of the walking route, like "proceed uphill, leaving town. After 4.8km turn left and then fork right to Santa Cruz." This sounds ok, except that there may be many places to "turn left" at 4.6, 4.7, or 4.9 km. Can a walker really judge 4.8km -- no. Similarly where should I "fork right"? And to top it all off Santa Cruz is actually named Santa Cruz de Bezana and the locals (and signs) know it only as Bezana. Inquiries about Santa Cruz only bring blank stares and "no se". My experienced guidance is that after walking what seems like 4.8km, if there's a left turn don't even think about taking it unless there's a waymark. So what benefit is the navigational narrative?

In walking through the city of Bilbao there are no waymarks -- the authors give no indication of this. They say "follow Gran Via for 800m, passing the RENFE station. Turn right in Plaza Eliptica ...". Sounds simple except that there are very, very few street signs and the actual name is "Gran Vía de Don Diego López de Haro" and if you can find a street sign it says simply "Diego Lopez". Also the RENFE station is a couple blocks away and there is no sign to indicate where it is so that bit if information is also useless. Also the Plaza Eliptica is not labeled (that I could find). Thankfully I acquired a city map from a turismo office and it supplied some missing pieces.

My personal journal contains countless other examples of frustrating (but now laughable) examples of the inadequacies of this book's navigational text. So often, it truly seemed that the authors wrote this stuff from a comfortable home-office using Google Maps.

The narrative does list potential albergues, hotels, restaurants, in towns, but it gives little or no indication of where they are in the town. This is important even in a small town -- the destination might be right on the camino route, or maybe just a block off or maybe a kilometer away -- can't tell. It might be at the center of town or maybe at the exit. I missed countless of these, and sometimes wandered tiredly around a little town searching for the albergue at the end of the day.

My Learnings
Buy this book unless you can find a better one. I recommend the digital version.

Visit a turismo office whenever you are near one. They have small booklets that do indicate elevation change, distances, and other insights. They can also sometimes give you better indication of the location of albergues.

When entering a large town like San Sebastian, Bilbao, Santander, Oviedo, Lugo, know that you need much, much more information than this book provides.

"Youth hostels" (Hosteling International) do not cater to pilgrims and might not accept them. They seem to be primarily for high school students taking school trips.

Finally, my camino was rescued by LocusFree, a (free) navigation app available for Android smartphones that works offline, i.e. without cell phone data service. You can download maps via (free) WiFi at an allbergue or cafe bar, and use it out on the camino with no local phone or data service. You also have to download a "track" or the camino path, available (free) from Gpsies.com and probably other sources. It takes a little trial and error to figure it out, but it uses the smartphone's GPS to show you where you are and where the camino is! I removed the SIM card from my phone to prevent inadvertent and expensive foreign roaming charges. When not connecting via WiFi, I also turned my phone to "Airplane mode" which shuts of the various radios and drastically saves the battery.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite pleased with this little gem from the Cicerone Guide series May 16 2013
By Timecheck - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm quite pleased with this little gem from the Cicerone Guide series. My only reservation is the weight - at 3/4 of a pound for this 4 1/2 by 6 3/4 inch volume, it weighs more than my Kindle. When I use it on a trip, I will be cutting out everything that does not directly apply to my route. Some of the Cicerone books are on Kindle and I suggest they think about putting this book in that format as well. You do get quality for that weight. Water resistant, heavy white glossy paper is durable and shows off the color maps and photographs well.

The first forty pages include the overview map and the introduction, covering such subjects as The story of St. James, choosing your camino, when to go, equipment, and many similar topics. This material is covered in almost all books about the various caminos, and I think that Perazzoli and Whitson have done a better job of it than I have seen anywhere else. Clear, succinct but nothing of importance left out.

The rest of the book is devoted to the day by day route descriptions, the Camino del Norte in 31 stages, the Camino Primitivo in 12 stages, the Camino Inglés in 4 stages, and the Camino Finisterre in 3 stages.

Color is used to good effect, with each stage having a green shaded box with the summary: Start location, finish, distance, total ascent & descent, difficulty rating, and albergues encountered. There is a general description of the stage, and then a color topographic map of the stage, 1:50,000 with a 1 km grid. Then follows a turn by turn guide with blue boxes noting intermediate towns and things of interest, ruins, junctions, pharmacies, bars, etc. I found that I had to pay close attention to see what albergues were available at intermediate locations.

I'm looking forward to putting this guide into use. With every guide, once you get into the field with it, it takes a few days to get familiar with the author's way of giving directions, but my expectation with The Northern Caminos is that this process is going to be short and easy.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well structured guide with abundant detail June 7 2013
By Mike Waters - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This guide to the Northern Caminos makes you want to get onto a flight to Spain!

The pictures and detail of the routes are well organized but varied enough to keep your interest while reading at home. In the field, this guide will be invaluable to those looking for a straightforward description of routes, accommodations, and points of interest while adding insider's tips and historical facts in an unobtrusive manner.

The maps are scaled well and noted with sufficient detail. They and clear and precise and in color.

The back of the guide contains a route summary detailing the distance and total ascent/descent in meters for each stage and an English-Spanish-Euskara translation table.

Overall a great buy that I can highly recommend!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book - will you carry it? June 22 2013
By Daniel De Kay - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pros: good maps, easy to read, lots of information, conveniently small in size.
Cons: it weighs a lot; I'm going on the C. Primitivo and will have to take the book apart so as to only carry that section.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very useful Guide to El Camino del Norte and Ingles. Aug. 15 2014
By Construction Consultant - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Solely used this book, published 2012, for 2013 walk on Northern and English Caminos. Essential reading, very informative and highly recommended. There were a few false directions but easily corrected by locals if you can speak some Castilian. Lodging prices a bit outdated. Usually 5-6 euros, perhaps more now. Youth hostels' charges around 17-25 euros. Interesting that author points out a few boring sections and advises taking the metro: eg. out of Bilbao. I took bus from Santiago to Finisterre because it is a very dangerous route where you compete with tour busses, cars etc. Then walked to Muxia, bus to Ferrol and then walked to Santiago again. This last I found the best Camino and was well described.

Book does not point out that camping on the beach is forbidden, though I was told many do in high season. I did by hiding yellow tent in folds between sand dunes. Easy to find other wild camping spots along the route, not mentioned in text, but try not to make it obvious. If you want to relax in a hotel prices are very reasonable off season. Paid 20 euros for an excellent double room with shower and breakfast in Santilla del Mar- summer price 150 euros: pictured below and not mentioned in book.

Awarded 5 stars because this is the best book on the Northern Caminos in English. The German language guides used to be better at directions. A little bulky and heavy but worth it.