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How The Camino Via De La Plata(VDLP) Is Different From The Camino Frances 2020-12-07

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HOW THE VIA DE LA PLATA (VDLP) IS DIFFERENT FROM CAMINO FRANCES:

3rd in a series of five Resources on How specific Caminos are different from Frances(Listed Below).

This is one peregrino’s perspective so admittedly biased but I also talked with many other VDLP peregrino's to confirm these points.

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1. VDLP is LONGER:

Via de la Plata (VDLP) is 1000 kilometers vs. 790 kilometers on Camino Frances. Actually VDLP continues north to Astorga on Camino Frances. Most pilgrims though veer on to Camino Sanabres at Granja de Moreruela a few days north of Salamanca. Also you can optionally start in Cadiz or Algeciras on the Mediterranean Coast.

2. HOTTER:

VDLP temperatures can get into the 40's Celsius (100's Fahrenheit) in summer. Consequently, most pilgrims opt to walk in spriing or fall. Some of the albergues even close down in July and August.

3. LESS INFRASTRUCTURE:

Fairly often you have to walk 15-30k with no Cafe or tienda(shop) to stop for food and drink. Also there are stretches where you have to walk as far as 30k to get to the next albergue for a bed.

4. LESS FLEXIBILITY REQUIRING MORE PLANNING:

On Frances you can just wake up and pack your gear and start walking. You are never far from a cafe or albergue. On VDLP because of Point 2. you really need to do some planning before you start each day.

5. MORE INTIMATE:

If you find Frances too crowded you will like VDLP as you can walk 30k and see as little as 4-5 people but rarely more than 10-12 in a day. Of course this will depend on the time of year you go and your speed. You usually know most of the people at the Albergue each night. I began 10 May and entered Santiago 22 June.

6. VDLP IS MOSTLY OLD MEN:

It is rare to meet people under 40 and very rare to meet anyone under 25. I did befriend a 30 year old French girl who I ran into several times including at the end in Muxia and we were both laughing in tears as she told me she was so tired of the old men walking around the albergue’s in only their underpants. When I realized I was one of those old men I laughed even harder.

7. VDLP IS MORE OF A LONG DISTANCE WALK:

This may be a very personal comment but I talked to others who agreed that the VDLP is more of a long distance walk. It did not feel as spiritual as Frances. Between Seville and Salamanca, the first half, it seemed like a walk through Roman history which was interesting, with all the bridges and the theatre and aqueduct of Merida and of course the great archway at Caparra. That said, after you veered west at Granja de Moreruela and especially in Galicia the Camino feel was stronger.

8. VERY FEW FIRST TIME PILGRIMS:

The VDLP is long and difficult and not as well known so there are very few first time peregrinos. Consequently there is less intimate discussion around your reasons for being here. The talk is more serious centered around your previous Camino experiences.

9. VDLP IS LESS FUN:

It’s longer and more grueling with the lack of infrastructure. But there seems to be less fun. I suppose the lack of diversity and high percentage of old men has something to do with that. Although it got better in the second half. Also, in the second half I walked with a big open blister on the bottom of my foot. I would also note one exception. Dinner in Rionegro del Puente at Me Gusta Comer where chef owner, Teofilo, offers one of the most fun and overall best dining experiences on any Camino.

10. HAS A DIFFERENT FEEL WALKING INTO SANTIAGO:

While still emotional, I felt more relief than anything else coming into Santiago. Of course having a tennis ball size blister on the bottom of my foot probably influenced my feelings.

11. COMPLETING VDLP FELT LIKE MORE OF AN ACHIEVEMENT THAN FRANCES:

I found walking Frances fun and a great experience and had no physical issues. VDLP was long, difficult, and seemed to never end. After walking many Caminos I always think of this one as the most difficult and challenging both physically and mentally.

In conclusion, the VDLP is not for the faint of heart. But I would also suggest if you a Camino Junkie you will want to add VDLP to your list.

Buen Camino!

This is one of five companion pieces available in Camino Forum Resources:

1. How The Via Francigena Pilgrimage (Canterbury to Rome) is Different from The Camino Frances.

2. How Camino Del Norte is Different From Camino Frances.

3. How Camino Via de la Plata (VDLP) is Different From Camion Frances.

4. How The Japan 88 Temple and Kumano Kodo Are Different From Camino Frances.

5. How the France Chemin duPuy is Different From Camino Frances.














In conclusion, the VDLP is not for the faint of heart. But I would also tell you if you are a Camino Junkie as our many of the VDLP veterans you will want to add Via de la Plata to your list. Buen Camino!
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Kevin Considine
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