Top positive review
5 people found this helpful
Worth buying but...
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.