I lived on the San Francisco Peninsula for thirty years from the 60s to the 90s. The iconic status of El Camino Real is such that navigation is usually done relative to it, and it defines logical north and south in the area. In the mid-Peninsula, it runs nearly north-south, but in the Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area, it runs almost due east-west.
San Francisco’s Mission Street continues the route, connecting what is now State Route 82 to Mission San Francisco de Asís (“La Misión Dolorosa”). El Camino runs past Stanford University, Santa Clara University and through downtown San Jose where it is named Santa Clara Street. For several years I lived in an apartment in Mountain View with an El Camino Real address.
El Camino Real is often translated to English as The Royal Road, or The King's Highway. Of course the word camino comes from caminar, which means “to walk”. This puts a more pedestrian spin on the name. In fact, any road under the direct jurisdiction of the Spanish crown and its viceroys was a “camino real”. Examples of such roads ran between principal settlements throughout Spain and its colonies such as New Spain, including present-day California.
Maresme has been historically very well connected with Barcelona and other comarcas (“counties”) thanks to the old Camí Ral, which is Catalan for Camino Real. This route is now part of Nacional II, which runs from the French border to Madrid. This is the road that runs along the front of the building where I live. In this area the route was one of the Roman roads that were built two milleniums ago.
Also, the Barcelona-Mataró railroad route (1848) was the first railroad to be constructed in all the Iberian Peninsula. This is now part of the Renfe Rodalies commuter rail system as line R1 that runs along side of Nacional II. More recently (1969), the construction of the C-32’s Barcelona-Mataró section was the first autopista (motorway) to be constructed in the Iberian Peninsula as well. Now if they would make it a freeway, it would reduce the traffic and dangerousness of Nacional II.
It’s somewhat ironic that I now find myself living on El Camino Real.