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And now for something completely different

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lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Interesting article and thoughtful observations. As he says "hike your own hike".

lynne
 

Dale

Active Member
lynnejohn said:
Interesting article and thoughtful observations. As he says "hike your own hike".

lynne


Did you read the same article, and to think I used to be in favor of free speech.
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Dale -

Well sure, and I am in favor of free speech (outside of hate speech). Clearly he prefers a more "wilderness" experience than the Frances offers, and the tone of the his article is overly negative. Some of his points happen to be correct, however - there is a lot of road walking / walking beside busy roads with noise from trucks. Of course he missed all of the reasons why we love walking the camino so his article is decidedly not balanced, but he didn't intend it to be. He seems to be more of a hiker rather than a pilgrim. What IS clear is his opinion that 'things are better in America.'

Having said all that, and although I can't imagine why anyone would consider walking Camino de Santiago to be a negative experience, I find these viewpoints interesting to read, just as I did Karla's blog. I don't agree, but find them interesting.

lynne
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
I actually found his article quite refreshing. He is an experienced walker and he prefers wilderness, which the Camino Frances doesn't provide. He is quite right- the CF does go near roads quite a lot of the time.... He might have been happier on one of the other routes eg the Via de la Plata.
Margaret
 
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peregrina2000

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Thanks for posting this, falcon. I think that negative reviews of the Camino Frances have been sorely lacking, aside from our own grousing on Camino forums about the huge increases in numbers. No international destination can be an unmitigated delight for everyone. There are certainly many people for whom the Camino is not the right thing, and I think this article is kind of like a bucket of cold water thrown on us Camino-lovers. I didn't find the author's review to be irrational, certainly no more irrational than my own enthusiastic reviews of some alternative caminos I've walked recently. I have bookmarked this article and will suggest it to everyone who asks me about the Camino from now on, because it provides a viewpoint that I just can't provide.
Thanks again, Laurie
 

johnBCCanada

Active Member
Hi

I do find it strange that all of the aspects he dislikes he cold have known about in advance with minimal research so if the Camino is not hs kind of walking experience why did he do it? Bitching about something after the fact for stuff you should have know about beforehand doesn't seem to make much sense.

John
 

MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
The Camino de Santiago has grown in popularity since the 1980s. It is welcoming to all regardless of their objectives. However, it will always be first and foremost a pilgrimage. It is not a hike, a wilderness trail, etc. When all are welcome there will naturally be those who become confused about its purpose. In that confusion it is also natural that personal objectives will not be met. This fellow simply misunderstood the purpose of the Camino's existence. He wanted a wilderness hike and instead was found something different. I am reminded of a scripture in 1 Cor 2:14 - "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

I appreciate that the Camino is open to all and we should all continue to welcome all to come that feel the call to walk the Camino. However, we should not be surprised by those who come and find only disappointment and confusion. St. Francis de Sales said, "What we need is a cup of understanding, a barrel of love, and an ocean of patience." This may be a worthy daily thought as we deal with all those who walk the Camino.
 

andy.d

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino de Levante 2009
Camino Ingles (Coruna) 2011
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Pilgrims Way Winchester - Canterbury
Camino Ingles (Ferrol) 2015
Cistercian Way (Wales) 2016
This has probably been said before, but a peregrino told me that the Camino gives you what you need, not necessarily what you want,

Andy
 
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lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Bore indeed! I went through his website and found out way more about this guy than anyone would want to learn. His complete resume, for one. His 10-year plan, which includes his intention to "Pray for WWIII so there will be more countries for me to visit". He may be an accomplished hiker and writer, but I am no longer interested in anything he has to say.

lynne
 

Arn

Veteran Member
Be it the Camino, the Pacific Rim, the Appalachian Trail, the Great Glen Way or the De Hoop Whale...there will always be folks that you just can't please.

Do your research, plan accordingly and enjoy!

If not...get back on the bus.

Buen "doing it my Way...and liking it" Camino

Arn
 

alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
I found his take interesting, and with some true observations, but he did the Camino with wrong spirit: it IS a pilgrimage, first and foremost,and he wasn't a pilgrim. When reading a bit more on his site, it becomes clear that he is a very experienced traveler/walker, albeit with a quite macho attitude and high thoughts of himself:

"El Camino is certainly doable. In fact, probably the reason I am not enjoying it that much is that it is just too doable! I crave a challenge, a bushwack, a snow storm, a steep cliff, a lack of water, or a bear charge. Alas, the only real challenge El Camino offers is a mental one. "

Yeah, yeah.

Since he does not care about mental challenges, he was on the wrong path, IMHO :lol:

One nice thing about the Camino is that it is doable for people from all walks of life.
Another is the lack of bears on the path.
I also like having drinking water around, not to mention beer (not bear).

Thanks for pointing out the article and the site: There are some good tour tips there. Don't feel offended by it; he's just into another kind of walk.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Year 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:
ARN !!! :shock: WELKOM TERUG - SKATTIE!!! :D :) :p

I read the article too. I tried to add a comment but you have to join his forum and then it was all a bit convoluted. Did he say he walked from Hendaye and then down to the camino Frances from Oviedo??

For any new members reading this article, remember that the Camino norte is a 'minor' route compared to the Camino Frances with less infrastructure and less financial investment (hence less new trails), partly due to the smaller number of pilgrims who walk the route. Last year 145 877 pilgrims received the compostela certificate. Of those, 113 001 walked the CF and 9 183 walked the Norte.

He claims that 99% of the camino was on roads. That might be true of the norte (I'm not sure what the percentage of road walking is) but on the CF, if we are to believe John Brierley, of the 780kms on the CF, 505 km are on paths/tracks: 202.6km are on quiet roads (mostly through small villages) and only 90.6km are on main roads - mainly in and out of larger towns and cities.

He says "Beware the bitch at the end of the world" - because the hospitalero in Finisterre wouldn't let him stay in the albergue because he had no sellos between Santiago and Finisterre, even though he was smelly and the soles of his shoes were worn down.
Hospitaleros are not trained to judge pilgrims by their smell, the state of their clothing or by the lack of tread on their shoes.
There are many international 'gentleman of the road' (some are professional pilgrims) who smell bad, look weather beaten and have worn out shoes and might even have a credential, but they are not all your regular camino pilgrims. The only method used to judge is to look at your credential and even if you have trekked 50 000kms - if you don't have any stamps in your credential between Santiago and Finisterre, you don't qualify.
He said that it was only 88km from Santiago and he walked all the way. He arrived at the albergue in Finisterre at 3pm. He must have started walking in the wee hours of the morning to reach Finisterre by 3pm.

I agree that he did not do any research for the camino. If he had, he would have learned that the path, even in the middle ages, was developed in such a way that pilgrims could walk in safety from one village or town to the next - not through thousands of kms of wilderness.
 
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FrancisT

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Nov 2009
I'm Francis Tapon, the guy who wrote the article "10 Reasons Why El Camino Santiago Sucks" that is the subject of this thread.

Someone pointed me to this discussion and perhaps some of you would like to hear my thoughts on your comments. I'll comment in the order they were written. I'll start with a general comment:

1. I'm impressed with your civil and fair discussion. I expected that hardcore Camino fans would really rip into me with bitterness and rage. Instead, basically everyone has been respectful about my point of view. So thank you. :)

2. Lynne correctly writes: "Of course he missed all of the reasons why we love walking the camino so his article is decidedly not balanced, but he didn't intend it to be."

Well said! Thanks for emphasizing that. There are thousands of pro-Camino articles out there, my article was mostly meant to show the other side. Still, it's easy to forget that along with the "10 reasons it sucks", I included "10 benefits." Of course, I spend more time explaining the negative, so Lynne is absolutely right.

3. Lynne incorrectly writes: "He seems to be more of a hiker rather than a pilgrim. What IS clear is his opinion that 'things are better in America.'"

Two points to disprove her statement:

a. My article clearly says: "The point of these comparisons is not to argue that the Triple Crown trails [in America] are "better" than El Camino Santiago, but rather to illustrate that they are nearly incomparable! They totally different experiences." Hardly, a pro-America argument.

b. What is my last recommendation in the article? Is it to go hike in America because it's better? Nope. I write, "Hike the Pyrenees instead. Forget El Camino. Do the Pyrenees. It's far more challenging, but far more rewarding. I adored the Pyrenees." If I believe "things are better in America", why am I telling people to hike across the Pyrenees in Spain/France?

4. I really appreciate peregrina2000's post. She truly understood the point of my article. Wise lady. :)

5. johnBCCanada is right that I could have learned more in advance. However, I knew enough to know what I was getting into. I did it because I wanted to experience El Camino for myself. I give many presentations on backpacking and sometimes get questions about El Camino. I wanted to have an opinion based on first-hand experience, not hearsay. Now when people ask me about the trail, I have an answer. Also, El Camino is a relatively short trail compared to the other trails I've done (the CDT Yo-Yo was 10 times longer), so even if I didn't enjoy El Camino, I knew it would be over relatively quickly. Fortunately, as I concluded in the article, "With El Camino, I was happy I had done it..." and I still feel the same way today.

6. MichaelB10398 writes gently and fairly. I have just one minor point on his statement to clarify: "This fellow simply misunderstood the purpose of the Camino's existence. He wanted a wilderness hike and instead was found something different."

He's right that I "wanted" a wilderness hike, but I certainly didn't expect one as I made clear when I wrote before the hike:

"6. The Way of St. James is the Ritz Carlton of long distance trails. Every 10-20 km there is a hut, which make the three walled AT shelters look pathetic. It costs only about $5 to stay in a hut. They serve food and have showers available. That's right folks, on the Way of St. James it's possible to have a shower nearly every day! That's a far different than the CDT, where I went 45 days without a shower."

7. Rebekah Scott and Lynne say I'm a "bore." :lol: Considering all the insults I was expecting to hear, this was rather benign. :) I appreciate that both ladies did credit me for "making some good points." Thank you and stop reading now before I bore you more. ;)

8. alexwalker describes me as having "a quite macho attitude and high thoughts of himself." I understand how Alex could conclude that. However, tell me how "macho" or "high" on myself I sound in this article about my first few weeks on El Camino. To save you from following the link, here are the relevant parts:

A trail has finally broken me. I've met a trail that I just can't hack. It's El Camino Santiago.

I've never even though about quitting a trail. Until now.

Walking from Pamplona to Burgos is murderously dull, yet most say it is much more scenic than Burgos to Leon. That's when I considered quiting.

It also made me admire all the pilgrims who are not only able to walk the whole trail, but to also do it with a smile on their faces! I am clearly not tough enough!


Not exactly a macho man speaking. (Some will accuse me of "false modesty" - I can't win).

Alex also says: "Since he does not care about mental challenges, he was on the wrong path, IMHO."

I do care about mental challenges - I love them! I wouldn't backpack as much as I do if I didn't care for mental challenges. If you're not convinced, read this article about backpacking across the Colorado Rockies in May.

Everything else Alex writes is right on the money, especially his final point: "There are some good tour tips there. Don't feel offended by it; he's just into another kind of walk."

9. Sillydoll wrote: "I tried to add a comment but you have to join his forum and then it was all a bit convoluted."

That's ironic, because I tried for 30 minutes to register on this site to post this answer. I used two browsers, with no success. I finally had exchange a few emails with Ivar Rekve to create an account. But I like mental challenges, so I persisted. ;)

To answer Sillydoll's question: I went from Hendaye to Pamplona, then Burgos, then Picos de Europa, Asturias, and then rejoined El Camino Frances. So I have almost no experience on El Norte and about 50% of El Frances (the other 50% was my own route through Asturias and Hendaye-Pamplona).

The claim that "505 km are on paths/tracks" is unbelievable unless a "path/track" can be wider than 1 meter/yard. Most backpackers call a "trail" a narrow (1 meter wide) path. Any wider is some type of road. Since I did my own version of El Camino, I asked many other pilgrims to confirm that only about 1% was a narrow dirt trail. Once they understood the definition, they all agreed with my estimate.


Lastly, some who've read this far without being bored out of their minds may conclude, "What a conceited jerk this Francis guy is! All he talks about is himself!"

Unlike most El Camino blogs, my article hardly talked about my personal anecdotes. Instead, 90% of it discussed El Camino in general - keeping the focus off of me.

Unfortunately, some of the comments in this thread focus on my character and what kind of guy I am instead of focusing on the points of the article. I could either ignore such comments or address them and risk sounding like a self-centered/conceited/whiny/overly sensitive jerk.

I really appreciate everyone's thoughts. I thank you for your politeness and candor. I was tempted to ignore this thread, but I thought it might clarify a few misunderstandings for those who happen to stumble upon it.

Buen camino! :)

Francis Tapon
http://FrancisTapon.com
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Francis -

In spite of our disagreements, I do appreciate the time you took with your thoughtful response.

Thanks,

lynne
 

uariachi

New Member
I read this gentleman's article literally a couple of days before embarking on the Camino journey, and I must say I have been waiting to finish and get to this forum so that I can post a reply.

This was my first Camino and I have been wanting to do it for about 15 years, just never found the time. I have however, taken part in longer or more challenging hikes/outdoor adventures.

Therefore, although I could relate to the writer's feelings and opinions, but I did find his negative approach rather WRONG and SELFISH...

Let me explain: I am not sure that what was mentioned in the article is incorrect information, but I do think that the information provided was meant for a minority of experienced outdoor adventurers and not the regular people that you see nowadays doing the Camino. These same people who were extremely challenged but yet felt like they accomplished something BIG in their lives, (isn't the Camino all about that?).

I found myself to be stronger and fitter than most during the Camino and it was rather an easy physical task for me, however I am today a much richer person emotionally, and I truly believe that everyone I crossed paths with feels the same, although each in their own standards...

Best,

Naoufal
 

cilento

Member
In response to the author's historical accuracy, Caminando made a statement about the role of the American forces in France that I cannot let go.

I think the author's statement about France's assistance in the Revolutionary War having some effect on American soldiers going to war in Wold War II is more about the attitude these soldiers had going into war with the goal of freeing a former ally. I believe this observation might have been made more accurately had it been applied to the soldiers entering World War I, however, I believe it still applies to WWII.

Caminando's assertion, however, seems historically inaccurate to me. Perhaps I'm sensitive to his attempt to minimize America's role in liberating France because I had 2 uncles who landed in Normandy during the invasion. I don't believe Saving Private Ryan has anything to do with Americans' perceptions that our role in France's liberation also involved a herculean effort: it is simply historical fact.

In the article, the author is not questioning or minimizing Britain's role, however, for Caminando to question his historical accuracy for stating that the US liberated France and to imply that Americans have a glorified version of the efforts of their countrymen is ridiculous.

In the invasion alone, Operation Overlord, the casualties speak volumes about America's role in the conflict:

The Allied forces suffered 36,976 killed, 153,475 wounded and 19,221 missing. Split between the Army-Groups; the Anglo-Canadian Army-Group suffered 16,138 killed, 58,594 wounded and 9,093 missing for a total of 83,825 casualties. The American Army-Group suffered 20,838 killed, 94,881 wounded and 10,128 missing for a total of 125,847 casualties.

A visit to Normandy's beaches taught me more about my country than what I learned in textbooks or in any Hollywood movie.

Sorry for the rant. Like I said, I just couldn't let it go.

Dominick
 
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Caminando

Veteran Member
cilento said:
In response to the author's historical accuracy, Caminando made a statement about the role of the American forces in France that I cannot let go.

Caminando's assertion, however, seems historically inaccurate to me. Perhaps I'm sensitive to his attempt to minimize America's role in liberating France because I had 2 uncles who landed in Normandy during the invasion. I don't believe Saving Private Ryan has anything to do with Americans' perceptions that our role in France's liberation also involved a herculean effort: it is simply historical fact.

In the article, the author is not questioning or minimizing Britain's role, however, for Caminando to question his historical accuracy for stating that the US liberated France and to imply that Americans have a glorified version of the efforts of their countrymen is ridiculous.

In the invasion alone, Operation Overlord, the casualties speak volumes about America's role in the conflict:

The Allied forces suffered 36,976 killed, 153,475 wounded and 19,221 missing. Split between the Army-Groups; the Anglo-Canadian Army-Group suffered 16,138 killed, 58,594 wounded and 9,093 missing for a total of 83,825 casualties. The American Army-Group suffered 20,838 killed, 94,881 wounded and 10,128 missing for a total of 125,847 casualties.


Sorry for the rant. Like I said, I just couldn't let it go.

Dominick

Hi Cilento

Your national flag which you include says much.

You distort what I said. Read it again please. I am being historically precise, and free I hope of nationalism.

Historians agree that not one of the Allies - ie Soviet Union, nor the UK +Commonwealth, nor the USA could alone have defeated Nazism. The power of Hollywood can suggest otherwise to the naive and ahistorical among us. Never forget that the UK was obliged until a few years ago, when the loan was finally repaid, to repay the US for every bomb, bullet and breakfast consumed by US troops. We were up against it, and lost much in our fight for freedom. We waited for help for such a long time. I am reminded that "countries have no friendships, only interests" (and the UK is a past master at such cruel manipulation).

There were 5 beachheads in France - 2 were US, and 3 were UK/Canadian. I 've already referred to the debt we have to those brave US men who fought there: I honour them, more than I can tell you. And the Soviets, and the Canadians.

You refer to the "Anglo-Canadian" Army Group - this is a glaring distortion of history. The Group was not AngloCanadian but British-Canadian . I'll spare you the details of your howler.

You refer to the casualty list showing higher US fatalities - this is not the place to rehearse the tragedy of bad weather, and worse, the bad planning of the US Command at Omaha. A tragedy which cost so many brave lives of our desperately needed allies, the US forces. Please read the histories of that time. I have.

Don't apologise for ranting - it's that which makes the world go round. I welcome your comments, however inaccurate.
 

chuck1947

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Walking Camino Frances starting May 7, 2012
I am getting ready to do the Camino Frances sometime in May. This will be my first trip to Europe and of course, my first hike in Europe. I have hiked the AT in the USA and more than anything I loved the comeradrie and the sharing and friendships made along the way. I had read and viewed many Camino Frances articles and videos, all of them positive and uplifting until stumbling upon this site. I am really glad I did. I really enjoyed (for the most part) the civility of the thread and the respect for other's opinions. This thread could have easily gotten nasty but didn't. I enjoyed all of the points of view and now feel that I have a much better understanding of what the Camino is all about. Thank you Caminando and the rest for all of your input.
 

MoniRose

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(5/28-7/4, 2012) Camino Frances - SJPP to Santiago
(7/22-8/2, 2013) Camino Finesterra
(?) Camino Le Puy
When first reading Francis Tapon's article I felt very defensive. I made my first solo journey to Europe from the States in 2012 to walk the Camino Frances. I felt I was being called to a great adventure. It turned out to be everything I had hoped and much, much more. I am so thankful to God for the gift of the Camino!
I at first took Francis' comments too personally. After some thought, I tried to register on his forum and as yet have not been able to maneuver my way or get my security code, or whatever it is that is needed, to become a member. I am a little disappointed. Why? Because, in spite of how he felt about the Camino, it doesn't change my experience. Francis seems very well experienced in hiking, and as a novice I would be interested in doing other hikes or pilgrimages both in the US and globally.
I am not a sheep and Francis is not my shepherd. He is perhaps too blunt for my taste. Perhaps I would be too "heady", too "nice", for his. I hope I could filter through the bravado and listen to and appreciate his expertise and advice while not allowing his opinions or experience to undermine mine, just as I was able to take the many suggestions and bits of advice from members of this forum prior to my trip.
I wish Francis "Buen Camino" in all of his adventures. Stay safe, young man. - Monica
 
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