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A few more Questions

2020 Camino Guides

Eddiebee

Eddiebee
Camino(s) past & future
Frances SJPDP to SDC May & June 2017
Thank you to everyone who provided answers to my earlier posting. The answers about food were most interesting. I am afraid that I might try to eat my way across Spain. I have a few more questions for you more experienced pilgrims.

I am booked for two nights at St Jean Pied de Port. I have heard so much about both routes to Roncesvalles that I want to walk both. Since I am booked in SJPdP for May 16 & 17 and at Orisson on the 18th, I was thinking about walking the lower route on the 17th and getting a taxi back in time for the evening meal at Beilari. Is this a foolish idea? Can the lower route be walked in 6 hours? Is there a safe place to leave my backpack so that I could walk that day with only a sandwich and a couple of bottles of water?

I have been told that American Express is not widely accepted? Is MasterCard more accepted? How much cash should I carry at one time? Is it true that the Camino is mostly a small bill cash economy?

Are there places where water is not as available? I have a 2 liter water reservoir. Should I keep it full all the time? It weighs 5 pounds full. I would like to carry it half full most of the time unless that would not be a good idea.

Thanks in advance. I leave for Madrid two weeks from today.

Buen Camino,
Ed
 

Waka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Some but not all, and other routes too.
@Eddiebee, I'll try and answer what I can.
Regarding money cash is king on the camino and you are right American Express won't get you very far. I travelled with a bank debit card and as a back up took one credit card separated, most people carry about 300 euros and top up on the way, you will find plenty of ATM's along the route.
I carried 1 litre of water with me and had no trouble topping the bottle up at regular intervals, I think the longest distance without a watering hole is across a part of the Meseta, but I still managed on my Litre.

Regarding walking the Valcarlos route before you leave for Orrison is different but hay ho, if you think you can do it then why not. With Orrison being only 8km from SJPDP then you'd have a short day after walking the Valcarlos route.

I hope this has been helpful and have a good journey whatever you decide to do.
 

Eddiebee

Eddiebee
Camino(s) past & future
Frances SJPDP to SDC May & June 2017
@Eddiebee, I'll try and answer what I can.
Regarding money cash is king on the camino and you are right American Express won't get you very far. I travelled with a bank debit card and as a back up took one credit card separated, most people carry about 300 euros and top up on the way, you will find plenty of ATM's along the route.
I carried 1 litre of water with me and had no trouble topping the bottle up at regular intervals, I think the longest distance without a watering hole is across a part of the Meseta, but I still managed on my Litre.

Regarding walking the Valcarlos route before you leave for Orrison is different but hay ho, if you think you can do it then why not. With Orrison being only 8km from SJPDP then you'd have a short day after walking the Valcarlos route.

I hope this has been helpful and have a good journey whatever you decide to do.
Very helpful. Thank you.
 
W

whariwharangi

Guest
I think you'd have a hard time making Roncesvalles in 6 hours via either route. Si yo fuera tu ... take your no-day exploring SJPdP and get yourself sorted out for the walk. If you do decide to walk I'd suggest contacting Express Bourricot to arrange a pick-up and limit your distance to - say - Valcarlos.

American Express isn't accepted anywhere. Read your Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Seriously though, none of the albergues and most small stores along the camino are equipped to manage electronic transactions, neither credit card nor debit card. You have to carry cash and since there are sometimes days between towns large enough to have an ATM ... you have to carry several days worth of cash.
 

Eddiebee

Eddiebee
Camino(s) past & future
Frances SJPDP to SDC May & June 2017
I think you'd have a hard time making Roncesvalles in 6 hours via either route. Si yo fuera tu ... take your no-day exploring SJPdP and get yourself sorted out for the walk. If you do decide to walk I'd suggest contacting Express Bourricot to arrange a pick-up and limit your distance to - say - Valcarlos.

American Express isn't accepted anywhere. Read your Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Seriously though, none of the albergues and most small stores along the camino are equipped to manage electronic transactions, neither credit card nor debit card. You have to carry cash and since there are sometimes days between towns large enough to have an ATM ... you have to carry several days worth of cash.
How long do you think it would take if I find a safe place to store my pack and walk light? Thanks.
 

Kent Davis

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Completed CF in Oct 2016
I have not seen anyone post the idea about walking both paths but I have little doubt that you could get a logistic/transportation company to accomplish what you are proposing. Why not leave your backpack in your hotel and carry a small backpack with water and snacks. Most decent size towns have ATM machines so bring your debit card. Plenty of places to refresh with water with the exception of 1 or 2 days that have longer stretches, so I would not take more than a liter.
 
W

whariwharangi

Guest
How long do you think it would take if I find a safe place to store my pack and walk light? Thanks.
I don't think you will realize significant time savings walking with or without pack unless you are carrying a heavy pack. I would allow 9 hours from SJPdP to Roncesvalles.

Note there is a CONDA bus from Pamplona several times daily. They will pick up at Roncesvalles and Valcarlos.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015, July 2017, October 2019
Hi Ed,

Just to emphasise what others have said I'd really recommend carrying 3-4 days worth of cash unless the ATM situation has changed significantly in the last couple of years. I was totally unprepared for this and if it weren't for very kind folk lending me emergency cash I'd have been seriously stuck.

Buen Camino,

Rob.
 

Eddiebee

Eddiebee
Camino(s) past & future
Frances SJPDP to SDC May & June 2017
Hi Ed,

Just to emphasise what others have said I'd really recommend carrying 3-4 days worth of cash unless the ATM situation has changed significantly in the last couple of years. I was totally unprepared for this and if it weren't for very kind folk lending me emergency cash I'd have been seriously stuck.

Buen Camino,

Rob.
Good to know. Glad things worked out for you. I hear a lot of stories about the kindness of others on the Camino. Thanks, Ed
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
I give the same financial advice. Just walk the SJPdP-Valcarlos portion of the lower route and bus/taxi/walk back. Probably just as easy to do with the pack as find a place to put the pack.
 

Eddiebee

Eddiebee
Camino(s) past & future
Frances SJPDP to SDC May & June 2017
Thanks, I have concluded that this is probably not something I will be able to do. It was not so much not wanting to miss something that others experience as it was that I wanted to see the forest that I have heard so much about. I had heard the two routes described as either walking through the landscape or walking above it. At this point, I prefer to have a view from above. Perhaps this will give me an excuse to return and walk again.

My original plan will be reinstated. I will spend a day leisurely exploring St Jean.

Buen Camino,
Ed
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
It was not so much not wanting to miss something that others experience as it was that I wanted to see the forest that I have heard so much about.
Once you reach the high point on the Route Napoleon there are two ways you can take to Roncevalles. The route marked with yellow arrows takes you down a steep route through a forest. It can be slippery when wet. There you can be happy in the woods. The other route, one recommended by the handout from the SJPdP Pilgrims Office, goes by road towards the highway paralleling the Valcarlos route and then it follows the Valcarlos route.
 

Eddiebee

Eddiebee
Camino(s) past & future
Frances SJPDP to SDC May & June 2017
Once you reach the high point on the Route Napoleon there are two ways you can take to Roncevalles. The route marked with yellow arrows takes you down a steep route through a forest. It can be slippery when wet. There you can be happy in the woods. The other route, one recommended by the handout from the SJPdP Pilgrims Office, goes by road towards the highway paralleling the Valcarlos route and then it follows the Valcarlos route.
Thanks for that info. If it is not too wet I will take the forest route.

Thanks and Buen Camino,
Ed
 

Eddiebee

Eddiebee
Camino(s) past & future
Frances SJPDP to SDC May & June 2017
This just occurred to me. There is a time lapse video of the Route Napoleon. The woods I mentioned show up at about minute 2:20.
Thanks, looks like 70% paved roads. The woods looked very peaceful.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
I took the recommended route, because I understood that the other way is quite steep and I didn't want to wreck my knees the first day! There is also a nice wooded part on the recommended path.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
See signature
If I were to walk again I would take the less steep recommended option via Ibaneta chapel. Why? The views. (Assuming it's clear).
.
I walked down through the forest twice. First time by mistake, second time by choice. The third time I chose the other route via the Ibaneta chapel as it had been raining, the visibility was nil and I didn't fancy a treacherous forest floor in those conditions (plenty of it where I live :D ).

I actually preferred it! It was a lovely descent.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
See signature
But since you asked: I think it is a foolish idea to walk two variants of the St James Way from SJPP just to make sure that you don't miss any of the experience other camino walkers have had. One of the attractions, if you like, of walking the Camino to Santiago, is the fact that you move towards Santiago all the time, perhaps a little detour here and there, like to Eunate, but basically forwards.

).
I agree whole-heartedly. But hey, your choice :)
 

poogeyejr

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte, May 2011
Norte, Sept 2013
Started the Frances, 2017
I am booked for two nights at St Jean Pied de Port. I have heard so much about both routes to Roncesvalles that I want to walk both. Since I am booked in SJPdP for May 16 & 17 and at Orisson on the 18th, I was thinking about walking the lower route on the 17th and getting a taxi back in time for the evening meal at Beilari. Is this a foolish idea? Can the lower route be walked in 6 hours? Is there a safe place to leave my backpack so that I could walk that day with only a sandwich and a couple of bottles of water?
Ed
Hi Ed,

I saw your email and thought brilliant! Then I read everyone else's comments and realized we think a little differently. I love what you are thinking and with the bookings you have it would work perfectly!

On the 17th, leave early! Can you leave your backpack in your room? Take a bottle of water and walk to Roncesvalles along the lower route (through Valcarlos which is a great early lunch stop) and return to SJPdP by taxi from Roncesvalles. (I think this would be a great first hiking day with no pack weight, and wonderful wooded paths, a challenging hike 22-24km ish). You would make it back for dinner.

On the morning of the 18th you can get a leisurely start after your long climb the day before, look around SJPdP. Head up to Orrison with your pack. (6km ish, but all up hill)

Then on the 19th you can start at Orrison and walk to Roncesvalles or maybe on to Burguete 3km more or Espinal which is approx 6.5km past Roncesvalles.

The benefits of this are 1) the first day hike without your pack (a nice easing in for your feet) 2) the JOY of walking both the Valcarlos route and Napoleon route on this Camino - the mountain walking is great! and this way you get to double it! 3) setting an amazing tone for your Camino - Anything can happen!

What ever you decide, have a wonderful time!

Buen Camino,

Kathy

PS - You can get your credential stamped at each stop along the way, so you have the visual memory of the unusual start to your Camino
 

Joanne P

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances June 2018 & June 2020
Hi Ed,

I saw your email and thought brilliant! Then I read everyone else's comments and realized we think a little differently. I love what you are thinking and with the bookings you have it would work perfectly!

On the 17th, leave early! Can you leave your backpack in your room? Take a bottle of water and walk to Roncesvalles along the lower route (through Valcarlos which is a great early lunch stop) and return to SJPdP by taxi from Roncesvalles. (I think this would be a great first hiking day with no pack weight, and wonderful wooded paths, a challenging hike 22-24km ish). You would make it back for dinner.

On the morning of the 18th you can get a leisurely start after your long climb the day before, look around SJPdP. Head up to Orrison with your pack. (6km ish, but all up hill)

Then on the 19th you can start at Orrison and walk to Roncesvalles or maybe on to Burguete 3km more or Espinal which is approx 6.5km past Roncesvalles.

The benefits of this are 1) the first day hike without your pack (a nice easing in for your feet) 2) the JOY of walking both the Valcarlos route and Napoleon route on this Camino - the mountain walking is great! and this way you get to double it! 3) setting an amazing tone for your Camino - Anything can happen!

What ever you decide, have a wonderful time!

Buen Camino,

Kathy

PS - You can get your credential stamped at each stop along the way, so you have the visual memory of the unusual start to your Camino
I agree totally - I too was surprised at some of the comments. There is usually so much encouragement to do The Way "Your Way".
I say go for it - do both! .....I may well do the same :)
 

Eddiebee

Eddiebee
Camino(s) past & future
Frances SJPDP to SDC May & June 2017
Kathy & Joanne,

Thank you so much for your answers. I may or may not start my Camino by walking both routes, but you two have reminded me that it is my decision. I had almost given that decision to others. I will now decide based on how I feel when the time comes, the weather conditions, and the logistics of walking light. It is something that I would really like to do. Thanks to you two, I still might.

Buen Camino
 

JulieandPeter

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016
Frances 2017
Le Puy to SJPDP 2018
Frances 2019
Thanks for that info. If it is not too wet I will take the forest route.

Thanks and Buen Camino,
Ed
We ended up in the forest because it was foggy and because we missed any other option to go a different direction. There was a lot of snow at one point, so I think that is how we ended up in the very, very steep forest. My toes ached, but I would not change a thing. I'm pretty sure that is how it works; feeling grateful for whatever path you are on. However, I love your idea because it is your idea. It will be interesting to hear what you decide on. Here is a photo of the steep forest - I thought it was a beautiful albeit painful wrong turn. :) Wrong Turn..JPG
 

Eddiebee

Eddiebee
Camino(s) past & future
Frances SJPDP to SDC May & June 2017
We ended up in the forest because it was foggy and because we missed any other option to go a different direction. There was a lot of snow at one point, so I think that is how we ended up in the very, very steep forest. My toes ached, but I would not change a thing. I'm pretty sure that is how it works; feeling grateful for whatever path you are on. However, I love your idea because it is your idea. It will be interesting to hear what you decide on. Here is a photo of the steep forest - I thought it was a beautiful albeit painful wrong turn. :)View attachment 33660
Thank you. I had heard horror tales about 45 degree uphill slopes that go for kilometers. Your photo shows an interesting place. If you have any idea of the time required to make the climb on the lower route it would be helpful. On easy slopes without a pack, I walk about 5K an hour for 2 or 3 hours and can repeat once after an hour rest. Hope to see you on the Camino.

Buen Camino,

Ed
 

Joanne P

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances June 2018 & June 2020
Kathy & Joanne,

Thank you so much for your answers. I may or may not start my Camino by walking both routes, but you two have reminded me that it is my decision. I had almost given that decision to others. I will now decide based on how I feel when the time comes, the weather conditions, and the logistics of walking light. It is something that I would really like to do. Thanks to you two, I still might.

Buen Camino
Good on you Ed. Have an amazing journey ... Your Way!
Buen Camino
 

JulieandPeter

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016
Frances 2017
Le Puy to SJPDP 2018
Frances 2019
Thank you. I had heard horror tales about 45 degree uphill slopes that go for kilometers. Your photo shows an interesting place. If you have any idea of the time required to make the climb on the lower route it would be helpful. On easy slopes without a pack, I walk about 5K an hour for 2 or 3 hours and can repeat once after an hour rest. Hope to see you on the Camino.

Buen Camino,

Ed
The forest in the photo is the steeper than 45 degree downhill on the Napoleon route. :)

You were responding to a post talking about the Napoleon route forest, so I thought I would throw in my two cents. Steep, but no regrets!!

We did not take the lower route, so I cannot give you a time estimate for that. The Napoleon route took us 12 hours from SJPDP to Roncesvalles. We had a lot of snow and fog, so we were going really slow and we got lost once in addition to missing the turn-off to the less steep downhill.

Getting lost is sort of a funny story and it is applicable to this thread. We came to a fork in the trail. It was extremely foggy and we could only see about 50 feet ahead of us. The guidebook said go left, but there was an enormous amount of snow to the left. The trail to the right was a dirt road and it looked much more passable. We stood there for about 10 minutes, reading and rereading, searching for a yellow arrow or a pile of rocks. Eventually, we turned around and walked back 15 minutes or so to the last sign post we had seen to see if there was some clue there. Nothing there.

When we returned to the fork in the road, the fog had lifted and we could see that about 100 feet in front of us the two paths joined together. They both went to the exact same place. So that was 45 minutes of our 12 hours. :)
 

Carlapai

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis, [2013]
I have a new question and could not find how to start a new topic. Sorry. I am travelling from Denver to Madrid with just my backpack. Can I carry my folded walking sticks in my pack ? I will not be checking it in but carry it in the plane ?? I am flying United. Thanks.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
I had heard horror tales about 45 degree uphill slopes that go for kilometers.
I'm attaching a profile chart of the SJPdP to Roncesvalles stage of the Camino. The descent on the Route Napoleon shown on the chart is considered the less steep version that avoids the yellow arrow marked path through woods. It instead uses the road to get to Puerto Ibaneta where it joins the Valcarlos route.

The steepest lengthy ascent looks like the 3.5 kilometers just before Orrison where the elevation gain is about 450 meters. This is a slope of about 13% or an angle of about 7.5 degrees. American staircases typically have an 8 inch riser and a 10 tread and this is an 80% slope or angle of about 37 degrees.

On the chart for the Route Napoleon you see a descent of about 500 meters in 5 kilometers. This is a slope of 10% or an angle of about 6 degrees.
 

Attachments

JulieandPeter

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016
Frances 2017
Le Puy to SJPDP 2018
Frances 2019
I have a new question and could not find how to start a new topic. Sorry. I am travelling from Denver to Madrid with just my backpack. Can I carry my folded walking sticks in my pack ? I will not be checking it in but carry it in the plane ?? I am flying United. Thanks.
There are several threads on this topic. Perhaps, you may have already found them. My conclusion after reading the other threads is you will most likely have to check your hiking poles. We checked ours the first time around and also for the Tour Mont Blanc, but this time our plan is to buy poles in SJPDP because the savings in baggage costs will easily pay for the new poles. Perhaps, an entrepreneurial type person should consider renting poles to pilgrims. :)
 

Eddiebee

Eddiebee
Camino(s) past & future
Frances SJPDP to SDC May & June 2017
No, I walked to Orisson and back without a pack. That got my legs limber and I am now at Villamayor. Buen Camino.
 

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