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A few lingering questions

Camino(s) past & future
bogg1000
#1
I am arriving at El Prat on May 31.

I plan to take the Renfe to Pamplona & walk to Santiago.

My questions:

If I do not come with Euros in hand, can I use US dollars or a debit card until I find a place to exchange my US dollars for Euros?

Also SHOULD I come with Euros in hand?

Do shops accept foreign debit cards & if they do, do they allow you to get “cash back” (but in Euros) as they do here in US?

Would anyone out there think I was “cheating” If i started in Pamplona rather than SJPDP? A shallow question, I agree, and several of you have already weighed in on this, stating, and I am paraphrasing here, that the journey starts wherever it starts.

Is there any chance that I will not find space in an albergue this time of year? And if I don’t, can I just sleep along side the road or in a church?

Stupid, stupid questions, but as the date of departure nears, I am getting nervous, so please forgive my silly and perhaps, repetitive questions.

Thanks for any help & thanks for the copious help you gave all offered thus far.

Warmly,


Barry
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances from Léon- 2011
Camino Portuguese June 2018
#2
Hi Barry, there are no stupid questions, this is what the forum is for. And you will not be considered a cheat by starting in Pamplona, you will still receive all the respect as a fellow pilgrim, that is your Camino... cheats ride taxis or busses in the last 100 km and collect stamps without doing the sweaty part...
 

Cayou

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 Villafranca to Santiago
2016 St Jean to Los Arcos
2018 24-Sept Leon to Finnisterre
#3
Get some Euros in advance and more at Bank ATM machines. Start whereever, wife & i are starting in Leon this time. Can't help w your bed?
 

RJM

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times, but soon again I hope....
#4
"Cheating"? At what? I did not know the Camino was a contest or a sporting event. Just do whatever the heck you want to do. Honestly, nobody cares.
Be good to have some euros beforehand, but not necessary. Just get some at the first ATM you encounter upon arrival. Make sure your credit/debit card provider knows you are traveling, if needed. Some no longer require the notification.
I never did any "cash back" purchases with a card. In fact I only use mine to withdraw cash from an ATM and made cash only transactions.
You pretty much sleep wherever you like I suppose. Personally I never saw anyone sleeping along a road, or in front of a church, but I am sure it happens.
 

J Willhaus

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
24 May 2016- 14 July
Hospitalero, Zamora Dec 15-31, 2017
#5
Hi Barry,
There are plenty of cash machines (ATMs) in the Barcelona Airport. Go to one and get Euros there. I would not take a lot of US dollars (hard cash). The exchange rate is usually best at an ATM. Here is a link to the ATMS at the Barcelona airport.
http://www.aena.es/en/barcelona-airport/currency-exchange-cash-machines-banks.html

Many places only take cash (Euros). I would not plan on using debit/credit card unless you are staying in a larger hotel in a city.
 

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Zipy

Tommy Ziperovich
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
#6
Hi Barry,

As long as you're not picky, you'll generally always find SOMEWHERE to stay.
It's your Camino, start exactly wherever you'd like! It's only ~2 days from SJPDP to Pamplona.
Generally stick with cash Euros as your regular mode of payment, debit card to "re-up" your cash at one of many ATMs, and I carried a credit card as well in case of true emergencies (never touched it).

Cheers!

Tommy
 

David Tallan

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - central from Oporto (2018 - planned)
#7
I am arriving at El Prat on May 31.

I plan to take the Renfe to Pamplona & walk to Santiago.

My questions:

[1] If I do not come with Euros in hand, can I use US dollars or a debit card until I find a place to exchange my US dollars for Euros?

Also SHOULD I come with Euros in hand?

[2] Do shops accept foreign debit cards & if they do, do they allow you to get “cash back” (but in Euros) as they do here in US?

[3] Would anyone out there think I was “cheating” If i started in Pamplona rather than SJPDP? A shallow question, I agree, and several of you have already weighed in on this, stating, and I am paraphrasing here, that the journey starts wherever it starts.

[4] Is there any chance that I will not find space in an albergue this time of year? And if I don’t, can I just sleep along side the road or in a church?
1. You should be able to find an ATM without too much difficulty in Pamplona. It is a city and has the amenities one can expect in a city. The ATM in conjunction with your debit card will be able to provide the Euros you will need.

2. In cities shops may accept plastic. I wouldn't necessarily count on cash back. In general, however, the Camino is a cash economy. What most do is carry several days worth of cash with them and top up at ATMs when they get low. Not every village will have ATMs. There are several guides (either in book or e-book form, app form or website form) that will tell you which villages have ATMs so you don't get caught without cash.

3. Despite what some movies may indicate, SJPDP has no "official" status as the start of the Camino de Santiago or even the Camino Frances. It starts wherever you choose to start it, as others have obviously told you. There is a sort of "halfway" marker just before Sahagun, but that marks halfway between Roncesvalles and Santiago. That said, there are certainly Camino snobs. By the time you reach Santiago, however, they will be so busy looking down their noses at people who started in Sarria that they will have no disdain left for people who started in Pamplona.

4. I did my last Camino a couple of years ago in July and August, which is, I believe, something of a high season, and my son and I never had to resort to sleeping along side the road or in a church. [Edited to add, from a comment on another thread by RobertS26]: "Here are your options. First, find out if there is a second [or third, etc.] albergue in town or on the edge of town. Second, walk across the street to the one star Hotel that has converted several rooms into albergue style rooms (i.e. removed the queen bed and replaced with it four bunk beds. Third, walk into the nearest bar and ask the bartender for a room (locals who have permanently left town often leave keys to apartments with the bartender to rent out) Fourth, ask the bartender to make some calls (locals who have not left town and wish to rent out their spare bedroom for the night notify the bartender). Fifth, ask the local priest if there overflow accommodations in the church. Sixth, take a taxi East, back up the Camino, to the last town you walked through, spend the night, taxi forward in the morning, and restart walking. Seventh, taxi West down the Camino for a room. Eighth, taxi North (South) to the interstate freeway that parallels the Camino only a few miles away and spend the night."
 
Last edited:

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
#8
@barryoglick
About changing dollars for Euros: on my first camino, I brought some euros, which I acquired at my bank at home. I ran short in Pamplona and went looking for a bank machine to get more. As per advice on this forum, I went on a weekday morning during bank opening hours. It turns out, it was just as well I did, as the cash machine belonged to a particular type of bank. I think it was called a "caja rural," which I guess would be equivalent to a farm credit union. At any rate, the machine accepted my card, gave me no cash, and did not return my card. As the doors opened a few minutes later, I reported this and the card was retrieved for me, so I went to a regular bank. These days, many banks in Spain have their machines serviced by external companies, so there may be no way to retrieve a card from a bank. To avoid problems, it is a good idea to carry two debit cards on two different banks. Otherwise, you may have to wait for your bank to send you a new card in Spain. Credit cards can be handy too, in case of emergency, but you may have to pay a fair bit for cash advances.
It is also a good idea to keep an emergency fund (maybe about 100 euros) stashed somewhere safe, perhaps with your passport. Murphy's Law functions as well on the caminos as elsewhere (but you may find more kind-hearted people to help in time of need).
 

MichaelC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
August 2017: Le Puy to Santiago
2019: Francigena? Piémont? Aragonés? Primitivo? I can't decide!
#9
Would anyone out there think I was “cheating” If i started in Pamplona rather than SJPDP?

Is there any chance that I will not find space in an albergue this time of year? And if I don’t, can I just sleep along side the road or in a church?

Stupid, stupid questions, but as the date of departure nears, I am getting nervous, so please forgive my silly and perhaps, repetitive questions.
A lot of people start in Pamplona. And I never actually encountered those Camino snobs we hear about ... it was the opposite, in fact, and the long-distance walkers were quite supportive of even those who started in Sarria.

Churches are mostly locked in Spain. But, if you are finding it too crowded or are having trouble finding a bed, the best I advice I can give is to take a look at the Brierely stages ... and then avoid them. There were times in Galicia where there'd only be a small handful of us - sometimes only three or four pilgrims - in the 'off' stages, while there would be hundreds of pilgrims in the recommended stages.

As for your silly, nervous questions: it's just going to get worse until you take your first step out of Pamplona. And then you will be fine.
 
Last edited:

Suzanne S.

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) May--Camino Frances, SJPdP to Santiago; (2017) May--Caminho Portuguese, Coimbra to Santiago
#11
I started in SJPP. I checked my snobbish status at the door when I met a man who started in Luxembourg. It's your Camino. You get to do it however you want/need to! Judgement is simply a projection from the judger.
 

AndreaCT

New Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Fall 2016 Camino Frances to Leon
Fall 2017 Camino Frances to Finisterre
#12
I am arriving at El Prat on May 31.

I plan to take the Renfe to Pamplona & walk to Santiago.

My questions:

If I do not come with Euros in hand, can I use US dollars or a debit card until I find a place to exchange my US dollars for Euros?

Also SHOULD I come with Euros in hand?

Do shops accept foreign debit cards & if they do, do they allow you to get “cash back” (but in Euros) as they do here in US?

Would anyone out there think I was “cheating” If i started in Pamplona rather than SJPDP? A shallow question, I agree, and several of you have already weighed in on this, stating, and I am paraphrasing here, that the journey starts wherever it starts.

Is there any chance that I will not find space in an albergue this time of year? And if I don’t, can I just sleep along side the road or in a church?

Stupid, stupid questions, but as the date of departure nears, I am getting nervous, so please forgive my silly and perhaps, repetitive questions.

Thanks for any help & thanks for the copious help you gave all offered thus far.

Warmly,


Barry
Hi Barry,

Excellent questions and I trust that all the posted answers help. One thing that I found was that my debit card was not accepted at ATMs in small towns. My debit card was from a Canadian bank. I had no problem in the larger towns and cities, but I always went to the ATM during open banking hours just in case the ATM didn't want to return my card. I like Albertagirl's advice to bring two debit cards on two different banks and that is what I did when I returned the next year to finish the Camino Frances. I rarely used my credit card because cash was the preferred choice of currency by vendors and albergues.

Have a fantastic trip! Andrea
 

J F Gregory

Preparing for the Norte
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
March-April,2016 finished
October- November 2018 to walk the Del Norte.
#13
I met a person on the Camino who started with us in SJPDP and walked the whole way to Santiago and never made any effort to get his credential stamped until the last 100 km. I on the other hand had many more stamps than I needed for my keepsake.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino frances 2013 - Camino Portugues 2014 - Camino frances 2016
#14
Buen camino - what more is there really to say.
Pamplona is a beautiful town to start in - the camino begins wherever you decide. I have begun my caminos in sjpdp, pamplona and burgos and I never heard a negative word.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances
SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia, May 2016
C. Frances, Sept 2017
C. de Salvador/Primitivo (2018)
#16
I've started in SJPP and in Pamplona. Pamplona is an excellent place to start. As others have said, certain bank ATMs along the way won't accept foreign debit cards. It can be alarming to get the message on the machine that your card doesn't work. Just find another bank and try again. I also bring a credit card with a PIN for emergency cash advances. You will find ATMs all along the route. Just grab another £300 whenever you start to get low. It's easy.
 

lt56ny

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013-Frances SJP-Finisterre, 2015 Camino Le Puy-Santiago, 2017 Portugues Lisbon-Santiago 2018 Norte
#17
Didn’t read all the answers. Make sure you make your bank and credit card company aware you will be in Spain telling them the day you arrive and the day you will leave. If you don’t do that you can’t use them and they could even cancel your card thinking it is theft.
 

kdespot

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés SJPP-SdC Sept-Oct 2016
#18
David has some really good advice here in his #4. This stuff isn't common knowledge, it's not even posted much here on the forum. There are LOTS of creative options with regards to lodging. My two buddies and I arrived at Puente La Reina one September afternoon to find not a bed left in town, nor in the next town up the road. We popped into a bar and I asked the bartender if there was ANYTHING available that he knew of. "Only for two!" he told me, to which I responded, "But we are three!" We went back and forth on this theme until he finally said, "Well, ok. Follow me. We might be able to fit three in." He led us to a three bedroom suite on the top level of an apartment building that he owned. Full kitchen, laundry and a balcón! We paid around 30 euros each and were happy to do so. ¡Gracias, Jesús! Note: It was helpful that I speak Spanish.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Leon to Santiago Oct 2016
Porto to Santiago Oct 2017
#19
Euros:
USD won't be accepted in Europe.

Bring some Euros with you, you can get an exchange at US major banks for a fair rate. You may want some cash on hand for a coffee or bite to eat when you first arrive.

Once in Europe, look at the back of your bank card and you'll find some symbols. These show you compatible banks. Just make sure the ATM has one or more of the same symbols and you'll be able to take out money from that machine.

You will need cash for many places on the way.

Credit card companies have increased security and track you many ways. For example did you buy your tickets on your card? Then they know. I live in Canada, but when I tried to call my US CC company the last time like I used to, they said you don't have to anymore.
 

Walking Lover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CdS from Leon to Santiago, June 16, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
#20
I am arriving at El Prat on May 31.

I plan to take the Renfe to Pamplona & walk to Santiago.

My questions:

If I do not come with Euros in hand, can I use US dollars or a debit card until I find a place to exchange my US dollars for Euros?

Also SHOULD I come with Euros in hand?

Do shops accept foreign debit cards & if they do, do they allow you to get “cash back” (but in Euros) as they do here in US?

Would anyone out there think I was “cheating” If i started in Pamplona rather than SJPDP? A shallow question, I agree, and several of you have already weighed in on this, stating, and I am paraphrasing here, that the journey starts wherever it starts.

Is there any chance that I will not find space in an albergue this time of year? And if I don’t, can I just sleep along side the road or in a church?

Stupid, stupid questions, but as the date of departure nears, I am getting nervous, so please forgive my silly and perhaps, repetitive questions.

Thanks for any help & thanks for the copious help you gave all offered thus far.

Warmly,


Barry
Relax. I do recommend coming with your Euros in hand.
 

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