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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2013
I've just returned from Santiago. Completed over 500km of the northern Camino. This book was a brilliant guide especially the bars/restaurants/shops info so you can plan ahead and no need to carry too much food with you. I highly recommend it!

Couple of feedback for the readers and authors.

To the readers. If the book says dirt road or ancient road when it rains it should be read as very muddy road. If it's been reaning heavily then you might even want to consider finding an alternative route.
Some albergues have been closed since it was published so bear that in mind.

To the authors. Where did you source your maps from? Looks like they are not from this century as some major roads are missing. That's my only critique. Oh, and on page 205 it says Pedrouzo (600KM) - obviously it's a typo (600m rather). I found it quite amusing though :)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 24 June 2013
1) Regarding the weight issue, it would surely make much more sense to make a separate book out of each of the Northern Caminos in this book? I'm always weight conscious when I do a camino: all the weight adds up. Walking around with a guide to Camino Ingles, Camino Primitivo etc when I was going to spend a month walking the Camino del Norte only (how much time do they think we have?) was superfluous. Perhaps a collection of books, one for each camino? I, for one, will walk every one of them if health continues to spare me so I will use each one, separately, at some stage - and there's no point in bringing the much larger Camino del Norte guide on the other ones when I do! Be intelligent, Cicerone.

2) Lack of alternative routes: The guide too often promotes roadways over more scenic routes, as if the camino is just for people in a hurry to complete it. For instance, the guide suggested going along the roadway by Mioño. I had forgotten about the guide's recommended route and was drawn to Mioño because it was right on the sea. Before the bridge on the road in Mioño there was a small yellow arrow off the road down into a park which was alongside a gorgeous river. I went through the (very peaceful) park, came out at the sea in Mioño and at the far side there was another yellow arrow pointing to the left towards the coast. What a walk, what an amazing walk. I was next to the cliff for much of it all the way into Castro Urdiales. This guide does readers a disservice by not including such walks. When I got to Castro Urdiales, I decided to ignore the guide and stay following this gorgeous coastline. I walked it from Castro Urdiales until it could no longer be walked (c. 4km) and then turned left. I came out at the N634, the very road which this guide suggests walking on from Castro Urdiales. People who walk the road over this incredibly scenic cliff walk are losing out (unless they like the energy-sapping noise of vehicles on busy roads). There are many other examples where this guide could stop treating the camino as a race and embrace its beauty, or at least give readers the option of embracing that beauty.

3)This is a minor issue, but one worth recording, even if most US and British readers will not like it. The authors, or their editor, decided to distill the entire conflict and all its complexities between the Basques and the Spanish state as one of, and I quote, "terrorism" on behalf of the Basques. They actually used that word. Incredible. A single word to sum the entire relationship up. Hello? What a "turn-off" word for anybody who thinks, and a revealing word for identifying prejudice. This guide should not be a literary version of Fox/Sky News. There are intelligent ways to avoid such politically prejudiced words - here are some, 'campaign', 'conflict', 'war'. While I found the Basques to be quite unfriendly on my first visit, I found that when I went back as a better tourist - i.e. one who addressed people in Euskara/Basque rather than in Spanish - they were a lovely, admirable people. They have a rich culture and they are trying to protect it against the might of Spanish, and indeed the crimes the Spanish under Franco inflicted upon the Basques until quite recently and which the Basques are still recovering from. Forget all that and let's summarise it all as "terrorism" by the Basques against the Spanish. The authors should stay out of politics and keep this as a guide to a beautiful, life-enriching camino.

Despite all this, in the absence of any serious alternatives I would recommend buying this guide - just don't be afraid to think for yourself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2014
Before embarking on the Camino, I had this down as a 4 star book. The advice on choosing the Camino and what to pack are excellent and the author(s) are clearly knowledgeable and passionate about their subject.

BUT as a guidebook while actually on the Camino it is lamentable in comparison with the numerous German (the best!), Spanish, Italian and French equivalents.

1. The detailed directions are completely arbitrary. Sometimes tens of kilometres are described in 3 lines. At other times great detail is given over a few hundred metres. The reader very rarely knows which.

2. Words like 'shortly' have a number of different meanings. On one occasion, "shortly before a roundabout" meant 5 metres. On another, we only found a carpark "shortly afterwards" the following day and several km further on from our Albergue!

3. There are no profile maps detailing height / distance ratios as in all other European guidebooks.

4. The stages are also arbitrary. Some are as few as 16km long, others 40km. It is possible to walk far more even stages and when comparing with European fellow travellers, they were at times astounded by our book's recommendations. We deviated frequently from the recommended stages.

5. Apart from occasionally noting an outstanding Albergue, there is no information on the calibre / style of the Municipal albergues. Other guides gave far more information. Recommend downloading a current list of all Municipal and Private Albergues before you go (easy to find and any Albergue can look it up for you if you struggle)

6. And finally... The airport bus from Santiago takes 40mins (in good traffic) from Plaza Galicea, not 25!! Be warned.

Every English-speaker we met had this book, and it is better to have something than nothing. The history is in parts interesting, and the recommendations on alternative routes are also helpful. However I recommend you do not rely on it, and if you do speak either French, German, Italian or Spanish you investigate some of the excellent guides they have on offer. Where way marking was particularly poor, we also used the guides from the Confraternity of St. James, which were good (available on their website).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 April 2013
This would make a great tour guide along the Northern Caminos. It's got all the information you need in preparing for the trip, how to plan the route, what to pack, and what to expect in physical strain. It's also got loads of history and background, so you can get the most out of the trek, and making every element of the hike interesting.

Importantly, it's also really clear and easy to follow the whole way through. It tells you everything you need to know about every leg of the trip, with shorthand signposts as well as more detailed information with highlights.

Reading through this guide will make you antsy to get the hike started! Definitely recommend it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 7 February 2013
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 June 2014
Extremely poorly written with things like paragraphs ending mid sentence. The route maps are also poor. Not the typical Cicerone standard guide book.
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on 27 July 2014
The information contained in this guide is reasonably good, but it could be better. For example as has been said earlier, the maps are very poor, also other guides I have seen on the Camino (unfortunately not in English) contained good graphs and illustrations of each stage with heights and gradients etc. Distances also seemed to be at odds with the German, Spanish and Italian guides I looked at, but for me the biggest issue was the weight: it's very heavy for a Camino guide, I know the paper quality is good, but it's the heaviest guide, in any language, I have ever come across in walking two caminos. I seriously considered leaving it behind me, but decided to keep it for addresses of Albergues etc. So while the information contained is quite good, the whole package only gets two stars. As has been said before "In the absence of anything better...", but there is a gap in the market here for a well illustrated and lighter Camino Del Norte guide in English.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 June 2013
A welcome addition in relation to Camino routes which have limited coverage in English language. Whilst not as practical as Brierly's guide for Camino Francais it will provide good guidance on the trails.
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on 10 November 2014
Not very clear in parts. Distances were not always correct more often much longer than stated. Was good for a general outline of the route. But we often had to ask for directions as it wasn't very clear in the book which was the way to go.
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on 19 September 2014
Excellent,I have previously bought cicerone guides,great publishers two great authors,lots of useful information
and well illustrated.don't worry too much about it's weight it is worth carrying
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