A typical day on El Camino del Norte

It’s possible that there’s no such thing as a ”typical day” when hiking the Camino de Santiago, considering that you will see new places and meet new people every day. However, during my camino there came to be a specific routine that I stuck to most of my days. In an attempt to boil down the 24 day experience into something manageable for you as the reader, I’ll give you the summary of a so called typical day on the camino.

06:30 – Waking up

Somewhere between 6 and 7 I wake up from my sleep. It is most likely not the first time that I wake up during that night as I have already woken up from snoring and other noises in the albergue. After 6 though, I know that I’ve slept long enough and I’m excited to start the new day. With stiff legs I make a visit to the toilet, brush my teeth, get dressed and pack my backpack.

~07:15 – Walking begins

It is still dark outside and the city or town I’m staying in is still sound asleep except for the cleanup crew. With the help of the street lights and/or my cell phone’s flashlight, I find my way to the camino. I enjoy the stillness and coolness of the morning. Soon, the birds start singing and I’ll hear a rooster call from a nearby farm as the sun begins to rise over the horizon or mountain ridge.

Cleaning personnel washing the streets at an early hour, street lights on and no one else is awake.
Cleanup crew keeping busy early in the morning (07:13) restoring the streets after a festive night in the city.

I’ll walk for 2-3 hours, usually in solitude together with my thoughts and nature, but occasionally with a fellow pilgrim. At 10 or 11, I take some kind of break to eat something and put on sun screen if it turns out to be a sunny day, which usually is the case. My breakfast consists of pringles, nuts, chocolate and some fruit. I might also stop by at a café for an orange juice and pinchos, but I don’t like that quite as much as eating my breakfast by the seashore, closer to nature.

Pringles, walnuts, water, a pear and a peach.
My typical breakfast (and general snack at any time of the day) diet: Pringles, nuts (I preferred hazelnuts over walnuts), some fruit and water. Only thing missing is the chocolate, which I indulged in not everyday but when I needed an extra energy kick.

The walking between 11-14 is usually the hardest for me because the sun is really hot and there’s still quite a bit left to walk before reaching today’s destination. Some days it hurts quite a bit, but more often than not the ”walking engine” just keeps on running at a steady pace and before I know it I’ve reached the albergue for the night.

~15:00 – Chores and food

The order of the things I do when I arrive at the albergue varies quite a bit, but there are a few recurring things on my todo list for the day. I take a quick shower and switch into a clean set of clothes to freshen up. I do laundry, either washing by hand or using the washing machine at the albergue. If it is sunny and early in the day I’ll let the laundry dry on the washing line and otherwise I’ll use the dryer. I’ll make my bed (i.e. put on sheets, bed bug inspection and unroll the sleeping bag). I head out to get something to eat, and this might even be the first thing I do after arriving at the albergue in case lunch hour is reaching it’s end (the kitchen typically closes at 15:00-16:00 and won’t open until 20).

A plate with two fried eggs on ham, a sausage, salad and fries. Coke in a glass.
A typical, for me, high calorie lunch: Ham and eggs with fries and a bonus sausage and salad. On this day in particular I remember I went to the supermarket afterwards to have a pack of Magnum Vegan Almond ice-cream for some extra energy.

Early into the camino, I would typically not eat lunch and instead wait for dinner but I eventually realized that I preferred having both lunch and dinner if I could fit it into my schedule. Often I also swung by the supermarket to fill up on my breakfast stuff.

17:00-20:00 – Relaxation period

After having finished my chores and before heading out for dinner I try my best to relax. This included talking to people at the albergue, stretching and tending to my feet, checking social media and keeping in touch with friends at home, reading a book I found at the albergue and planning the route for tomorrow. This period is sometimes a lot shorter than three hours, if the walking and chores took a long time, but it’s an important time of the day both socially and physically.

20:00-22:00 – Dinner

This part of the day looks very different depending on if I eat with other people or on my own, but I get to experience the Spanish cuisine and see the city/town come to life as the sun goes down. Pilgrims and locals alike, everyone enjoys the food and drinks which is tasty and affordable.

22:30 – Sleep

After dinner it is not much more to do than brushing teeth and jumping into the sleeping bag. The occasional snorer and the worry of bedbugs may keep me awake for a little while, but soon I’ll fall asleep and get a good night’s rest. It is not always a good night’s sleep though, sometimes it is too hot or too noisy in the room, but overall I sleep well enough for my legs and feet to rest up and be ready for the next day to come.

And the next day the same procedure repeats itself, but with a different scenery, new people to meet, new cities, towns and restaurants and a new bed to sleep in it is a completely new experience and it never gets boring.

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