Among the Northern Ways to Santiago, the most popular route is the Coastal Route or Coastal Way. It’s an unforgettable tour along 815 km divided in 32 stages that will take us from Irún to Arzúa. The Coastal Way goes over countless tracks between the Cantabrian sea and the imposing mountains in a extreme green color.
This way can be started in France, thanks to the Soulac Way that pass also by the coast, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in the French Silver Coast. Anyway, once we arrive to Arzúa, the usual thing to do is to connect our trip with the last stages of the French Way, that will takes us from Arzúa to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
The cultural identity of the North, breaking cliches
Lots of travellers who visit Spain go there with preconceived ideas because of the stereotypes, what is normal and natural when we see ourselves in a territory different from ours. What’s the first thing that comes to your head when you think about Spain?
The list of cliches about this country is internationally well known: sun, beach, flamenco, paella and bulls. However, something that not so many people know is that this stereotype is not even a simplification of the culture of the whole Spain but, at best, it’s just about the Southern regions.
Once the tourists arrive to the North of the peninsula, they find a panorama that has nothing to do with what they’ve imagined.
So, what am I going to find in the North?
The Northern lands of Spain are drawn by the rainy weather: green mountains, plenty of vegetation and dense forests. The geographic accidents of the North, with lots of mountains and cliffs, defending the traditional culture of these villages over the centuries.
As an example, it’s interesting to know that over this Coastal Way we’ll find three co-official languages, very easy to distinguish: Basque, Galician and Spanish, in addition to the other dialects and minoritary languages. It’s like an explosion of traditions and customs with a common background shaped by the weather and the sea of the North.
The delightful gastronomy in the Coastal Way
The weather also have influence in the gastronomy as well. Meanwhile in the South of Spain the typical dishes fit within the Mediterranean diat, fresh and light food, in the North we’ll find heavier receipts thought to bear the cold months. But what definitely will surprise us in our Coastal Way are the fresh fish and shellfish, just taken from the sea.
#1 Basque Country: the most traditional food here are the “pintxos”, small portions elaborated usually with a slice of bread with something else. We can’t miss the cod to vizcaína, a real feast. If we decide to go party, we’ll need to taste the “kalimotxo”, a simple cocktail made with wine and Coke: easy but classic.
#2 Cantabria: the appetizer that you need to taste in the Cantabric gastronomy are rabas, similar to the calamares a la romana, but even better! For the main dish, the Mountain stew; we ensure you that you will recover all your strength to go on with your Coastal Way. And, after the dessert, a delicious Orujo liquor made with the Lebaniega grape, it’s trully digestive!
#3 Asturias: Ready to have another consistent meal in the Coastal Way? If there’s a plate that all Spain relates to Asturias, it’s the fabada. The Asturian fabada it’s a tasty soup, perfect for giving us the energy back at the lunch time… But maybe not the best option for dinner! The most famous drink in Asturias is the cider, very important in the traditions and the day-to-day for Asturian people.
#4 Galicia: In the last region of the Coastal Way, we keep eating marvelously! Galicia has a lot to offer also in the gastronomy subject. Once we pass Ribadeo, it’s time to taste the octopus, empanada and lacón. And, when we finish, it’s a must to drink a gulp of home made coffee liqour to digest our meal properly.
The Coastal Way is a cultural inmersion experience through a route rich in traditions, languages and gastronomies. Once we had arrived to Santiago after going across the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia, we’ll have met villages shaped by the Cantrabian Sea and the wet Oceanic weather.
If you’ve already done this journey and you want to tell us about your experience, we’d love to read your comment here or through Facebook.