July 5, from the Netherlands to Irun

How does one get to the starting point of the Camino? Many take a flight to Biarritz, Bordeaux or Bilbao, but the train is also a good option. From Amsterdam I took the TGV to Paris Nord. In Paris I travelled by metro to Paris Montparnasse (where I met the first fellow Camino walker, a fifty year old Dutch man) and from there you can travel by train to Irun.

It’s a long journey, but you can read your guidebook in preparation and watch the landscape changing. By the time we got to the Pyrenees, it was stunning. Speaking of guidebooks: I took one that was unpractical. It’s good for background information, so you could read it before departing, but for the actual Camino you need a concise one. Mine was quite big, with a lot of text about culture and history but not so much practical info about places to stay, opening times etc. The maps were only useful for getting a general idea of the stage, too small to actually navigate on. (Not that you’ll need that very often, most of the time the yellow arrows are abundant, and wherever you stand still, hesitating, a helpful Spaniard will point: “Camino the Santiago, that way!”)

As the Camino Norte is getting more popular every year, there are many guide books now, some pilgrims told me the one from Rother is the best.

The train arrived in Irun around 9.30 p.m. and I had pre-booked a hotel. The next day, my camino would start.

—> July 6 – July 13: Irun to Bilbao
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