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A few(!) things


New Member
My current progress list on getting ready.. I'd appreciate any and all input as I'm quite likely to pick some very stupid things otherwise..

Credential/Passport: Have just read the thread in the Introductions area and have decided I will probably collect one (somewhere) in SJPP. This was something that was worrying me quite a lot as I couldn't find any other ways of getting one.

Equipment: Have read some of the threads around and have not yet made any concrete plans. That will be starting (fairly) soon. Am debating whether to take mobile phone with me - on one hand I want to be out of contact from my family, but on the other it might be wise to have in event of emergency. Thoughts?

Walking distance/training: No firm thoughts on an "amount" I want to walk per day. I'm giving myself six weeks or so to do the whole distance, so that gives me quite a lot of leeway.

Flights: Something I need to figure out. I saw on here the ideal method of flying to SJPP (it involved a train, or something, in France) but I'm unable to find it now.. a point in the right direction would be gratefully received!

Proposed Date: I'm thinking start of June, going into July. Is this going to be too busy a time of year to start? (Potentially, I could start really as early as April, should I choose to). I've seen various posts about how the albergues fill up earlier and earlier every year, and don't want to get caught out by this.

EDIT: Learning Spanish: Still need to do this. I've got GCSE French which, such as it is, helps a bit for the brief time I'm in France (ironically, I think buying train tickets is about the only thing I can do in French.. and coincidentally, about all I'll be doing while there!). I've read that numbers 1-100 and general phrases are best to learn, but advice here would be, again, appreciated.

Thanks for any and all help,
(apologies if this isn't the kind of thing to have here)
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Active Member
Joe said:

You can order one online - check other threads on this site for more info, since going thru the American pilgrim site didn't work for me back in March of 2007, although I believe Arn (a frequent site poster) was successful when he recently ordered his. I got mine in Bordeaux, France, and others have gotten them in Paris and St. Jean. The Confraternities also give them out, but you may have to join one first, and eligibility apparently depends on what country you live in.

Joe said:
on one hand I want to be out of contact from my family, but on the other it might be wise to have in event of emergency. Thoughts?

I saw a lot of Europeans with cell phones. However, sometimes the albergues had limited outlets, so you may be competing for charging time. And if you're from the US, you'll need a plug adapter, and possibly a voltage converter, depending on your phone type.

Joe said:
I've read that numbers 1-100 and general phrases are best to learn

That would work. Elisabeth Smith's One-Day Spanish is good for general phrases, especially since it is geared towards European Spanish vs. the Latin American variety. John Brierley's guidebook has some helpful pilgrim-centric phrases as well. Pimsleur is also a good language program, although you won't learn a ton of vocabulary with it. You can buy the Basic version fairly cheaply, but the more comprehensive packages are much more expensive.

The numbers 1-100 are a big help when doing business in stores, since the clerks will repeat the cost back to you in Euros (1.50 would be something like "uno cincuenta"). Yes, some will show the numbers to you on a calculator or write them down. But when the joint is jumping and there's only one clerk (as I often experienced), he or she (and those waiting) will be impressed when you quickly drop the exact amount in their hand.

Joe said:
Proposed Date: I'm thinking start of June, going into July

I did mine in July-August of 07 from St. Jean to Santiago, and I had no problem getting a bed. However, I usually arrived early at albergues - between noon and 3PM. Sometimes I noticed that others arriving later had to sleep in overflow areas or on the floor. But the albergue folks were pretty good about finding places for pilgrims, and if you're sick or hurt, they tend to go the extra mile. For me, meeting other pilgrims from all over was the best part of the Way, so keep that angle in mind. You can always keep to yourself if you want.

Joe said:

Not sure where you are from (US? Canada?). But general rule of thumb is that those starting in St. Jean are better off flying into France. I flew into Paris, took the speed train to Bordeaux and hung out there for three days, took a regular train to Bayonne for a day/night, and then hit the train a final time to reach St. Jean. That's a roundabout way of getting to St. Jean, so others can steer you to a more direct route. :arrow: Buen Camino!


New Member
Thanks for your very helpful post. Forgot to mention that I was British! Something of an important thing to miss out.


Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
(2006) Roncesvalles to Leon (2007) Leon to Compostela
Joe, you can pick up your credential at the Pilgrim Office in SJPP and will only cost 1 or 2 euros, that's the cheapest way of getting one and you'll be assured of having it when you start walking.

While I've only walked in May and June, I understand that July can be quite busy and very hot. So if heat is a problem that's something to keep in mind.

Depending on where you live in the UK you could fly to Bordeaux and get the train to Bayonne, then train to SJPP. Or train it all the way eg Eurostar to Paris, TGV to Bordeaux or Bayonne, and local train to SJPP.

Don't worry about the language. You'll find the Spanish are very helpful towards pilgrims and will really appreciate it if you just use the basics of good morning, thank you etc. I'm really surprised at the number of pilgrims who don't bother with this. I learnt numbers in Spanish then found I couldn't understand what was being said to me anyway. Shopkeepers either wrote down the amount, or I held out a handful of money and they always took the correct amount.

For peace of mind a mobile phone is very useful especially if you family is worried about you, or you need that contact. Just designate a time of day for them to ring, not at nightime in the Albergue, and then keep it on whilst walking for emercencies. I've never had any trouble recharging in Albergues.

If you're not much of a walker it would be a good idea to do start doing a bit each day, increasing the distance as you get closer to departure time, and with a backpack two or three weeks before leaving. The important thing is to get your body into a routine of walking on a daily basis. Once there the distance you walk each day is totally up to you.

Hope this helps. Trudy


Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Ryan Air flies from Stansted to Biarritz for about 25 GDP - inclusive of taxes.
If you do a search for your date of departure and it is over 30 GDP - just check a few days earlier.
You can fly home from Santiago to England. Once again, keep checking the different prices on different days - they will vary from 20 GDP to 60 GDP.
You can buy telephone cards in Spain very cheaply to phone home - and there are lots of the blue Telefonica boxes along the way. Another way to keep in touch is via email. Many cafe-bars and albergues now have coin operated Internet facilities.
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New Member
Thank you to all for your very helpful replies. On reflection I probably will take my phone and charger, but keep it off most of the time, so as to conserve power and at least minimise the (potential) charging headache.

Next is my equipment list, which is probably about half planned in my head right now.. Coming soon ; )

(one last thing - heavier boots that are already broken in, or buy new lighter boots and then break them in? (that's probably a no-brainer))

Thanks again,


my first camino i walked a lot before hand but as I live in a cold climate my walking was mostly on a tredmill. I also walked with a pack on a couple of times but not enough. I had very bad problems with my feet. a nun prayed over them about a week into the trip and a woman walking said to me one day, "I am glad you are here, that way my feet are not the worse looking!" I've given this issue a lot of thought and I think one of my biggest problems was with socks. I've got really small feet for a guy and the socks I used were too big! in the usa when you purchase socks they come in sizes that fit say from 8 to 10 and if your foots and 8 you are going to have trouble. this time I'm planning on getting socks that are sized smaller. also, I will be taking a two day hike about 6 weeks prior to leaving for the camino so that my feet have a chance to get a bit beat up and then heal for 6 weeks before beginning the big walk.


Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
frmikeminn said:
I had very bad problems with my feet. ..... I've given this issue a lot of thought and I think one of my biggest problems was with socks.

There was a very useful podiatry article posted on the boards a while back.
I think there may have also been another useful article, (perhaps from one of the Aussies!) but I don't seem to be able to find that again.
One of the key things I have read from a few people here, that seems to be working well for me, is to wear two layers of socks..... a thin liner and a thicker pair. Others talk about the need to try and keep the feet dry (not always possible of course). Recently on holiday I got a rare blister, when I wore a single pair of already wet socks. Lesson learned!


Wandering for the love and growth of it
Time of past OR future Camino
Hi Joe,
A comment about telephones. I never take one because it is so easy and inexpensive to use a public one. You can go to any store that sells "Tabac" and they have telephone cards that cost about 7 Euros. For that you get 200 minutes or more to Canada so you can work out what might be likely for your home. Also - it's pretty easy to find internet access and you can keep in touch that way. As for emergencies - well if someone in your family has one there's no much you can do from Spain and if you have one there's not much they can do for you. If you did happen to hurt yourself on the camino you would be amazed at how quickly someone would show up to help you. I have seen several occasions where people did hurt themselves and were within minutes surrounded by helpful others who had bandaids , cleansing potions, antibiotic creams and all manner of useful things. Someone will always be there to help you.
I remember on my first camino I was on my back enjoying a rest in the sun on top of a mountain field and a young Spanish man went roaring by on a bicycle and waved. About two minutes later he roared back and apologetically asked if I was okay or needed anything. He felt badly going by without checking carefully- even though I had waved to him and wished him a buen camino. Pilgrims do look after each other.
Buen camino,


Wandering for the love and growth of it
Time of past OR future Camino
And another thing <grin>
Everyone has an opinion about what works for socks and boots. Here's what I do and what has resulted in 0 blisters on my caminos.
Good fitting leather waterproof boots (I go in the spring) with padded leather inside and added leather insoles. Socks that are very fine cotton, silk or one of those mixed with very fine wool. Synthetics absolutely don't work for me. I just wear one pair at a time but I do change back and forth between two or three pairs of socks each day (and hang the ones I take off in the sun on my backpack). I take my boots off every time I stop (not in restaurants) and put my feet in the grass for a few minutes, then rub them with lavender cream (tea tree also works) because I like the feel of it but it helps that lavender and tea tree are both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Boots back on in 5 minutes with feet feeling refreshed. Oh yes- and if there's a creek around - I'm the one standing in it enjoying the cool water on my feet. Well worth it.
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Active Member
My personal preference is to wear wool socks (Smartwool) with sock liners.
My only other recommendation would be to pack light. There's absolutely no need for you to carry anything over 30-35 litres worth of kit. You can adjust your gear according to when you go.

Regarding your phone. Take it anyway, is what I'd suggest. You don't have to have it on all the time!

Aaaaand... Erm... Regarding distances covered. I think you can sensibly do SJPP to Santiago in 30 days with varying distances. Some days I did 19-20 km, other days nearly or over 40 km. Terrain, weather, climbs, what you did the day before all have some sort of input.

Oh... and if you're thinking of going to Finisterre, be aware that there are few places to stay and the days vary up to about 35ish km (if I remember correctly)

Buen Camino
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Jul-Aug 05, Frances, Jul-Aug 06, Portugues, Oct 2010
About your mobile - I took mine with me, but kept it switched off apart from one hour every day when I picked up messages. I told my family that it would be switched on every evening betweeen 6 and 7, and to call between those times. That way I only needed to charge it once in three weeks.

Also remember that depending on your network, roaming charges could be quite high, so if you're thinking of making calls home, it might be better to find a phone card, as someone mentioned above, or find a "locutorio" (international phone centre)

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