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Avoiding Cities and other questions


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I am going on my first Camino on April 12th and I have a few questions. I have 31 days to do the walk, and I would love to make it all the way to Fisterra. I am starting in SJPP and am wondering if there is an industrialised or otherwise less beautiful part of the Camino Francis that I can take a bus through in order gain the extra couple of days needed to get all the way to the ocean. I am a complete beginner with the Spanish Language and would love any help I could get about how to find such a bus.

Also, because of my lack of French or Spanish, I am concerned about getting to SJPP. My plane arrives in Biarritz at 16:00, and I am hoping that taking a bus to Bayonne, buying a bus ticket, and boarding a bus to SJPP is doable without the language skills. Has anyone experienced this?

I am shy and one of my biggest fears is that I will not be able to communicate - especially in Spanish and French. Is a firm grasp of the language necessary for things like finding food and places to sleep?

Thank a bunch,

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Although I can speak some Spanish I found the pages from a guide book to Spain helpful. You can cut the English/Spanish phrase page out, or photocopy just that part. It had phrases for directions, food, medical needs etc. Just 2 or 3 sides of small paper. If you cannot speak you can point to a phrase and ask how to say it so you learn as you go along. The Spanish are only to happy to help anyone trying to speak their language, not just expecting to use their own, and will gladly encourage you.
Buen Camino
Tia Valeria
The number 6 bus to the train station, where you'll get another bus as the train line is closed for repairs, leaves from just outside the airport. I'd be surprised if there weren't at least a few other pilgrims on the flight. You'd recognise them by their boots and rucksacks.
The Camino is well sign-posted and the locals, particularly in cafes and restaurants, are well used to dealing with foreigners. Little or no Spanish shouldn't be a problem.
Buen Camino.
You could take a bus from the outskirts of Burgos into the city centre and miss about 8km of panel beaters, furniture factories and apartments. Then get a bus to the outskirts of Burgos so that you can walk further that day.

You could also get a bus from Leon to around Hospital del Orbigo thereby missing out about 30km - much of it alongside a highway.

Good luck!
Burgos is the only place worth doing that. Everywhere else, the trail seem to magically weave one through a combination of back roads, private gardens, old cobbled streets etc. You pass through a city thinking that if you lived there for 10 years you would not be able to string together such a nice way to walk through it.

Burgos needs some work.
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Once walking the Camino out in the countryside, I shun towns! However, if you look at my posting regarding the non-industrial way into Burgos, under the heading "Alternate route into Burgos" posted a month ago on 12th March, you can get yourself right to the city centre, without hardly seeing any asphalt. I then discovered that Burgos was a beautiful city and well worth the stop over. What I do not like is the approach and exit of Leon. You could cut 2 days off your Camino by taking a bus from Mansilla de las Mulas, visit the city if you like (beautiful cathedral) and then take a bus out maybe as far as Hospital del Orbígo. Anne
annakappa said:
What I do not like is the approach and exit of Leon. You could cut 2 days off your Camino by taking a bus from Mansilla de las Mulas, visit the city if you like (beautiful cathedral) and then take a bus out maybe as far as Hospital del Orbígo. Anne
If I ever walk the Camino Frances again, I am almost certain that the bit I will skip walking will in fact be exactly where Anna suggests- I will bus from Mansilla de las Mulas to Leon, then from Leon to Hospital de Orbigo. I don't think I can bear that next-to-the-highway walking again.

Leon was beautiful, and I think I would perhaps overnight here in a hotel/pension before heading to Hospital de Orbigo by bus early next morning. At Hospital there was a choice of routes- one that went along the highway to Astorga, and the other that took a village/countryside route that was only about a kilometre longer in distance. I loved this route through the countryside- it was quite one of my favourite pieces of the Camino.

Another thing you might consider if you are short of time, is that you could in fact catch a bus to Finisterre and just make a day trip of it instead of walking there. That would avoid 'pressurising' your Camino walk too much. It depends of course how quickly you walk.


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Hi Juniper.vt,
About the language thing... first I'd like to say that Europeans in general are very accustomed to dealing with people who speak a whole variety of languages. I have found that people working bus depots and places like that are very good at coping with the many languages that come at them.

You do, however need to take some responsibility for communicating what you want or need. The suggestion of using a phrasebook as suggested above is a great one. But if you can't find the right phrase then try writing down a key word. For example -In a bus station write the down the town where you want to go and the date you want to travel. Some of the people working at bus depots do speak English but it should never be your expectation obviously as you're the one in a foreign country. They will often give you a schedule and when you decide which bus you want to catch you can just point to it.
At the very least - learn how to say please and thank you in the language of the country you are in. Even if you're shy and it's hard for you, it is best to forget that fear long enough to try to show a small bit of appreciation. It's hard for them as well I imagine, to always have to be struggling to understand another language. We all feel goofy when we first try to get our tongues around words that are foreign to us. Try anyway.
I think you'll find it all goes quite easily, however, but don't hesitate to ask for help if you need it. Most young people in western Europe (and many older) speak more than one language and are usually happy to help. Who knows - maybe all this will help you lose some of that shyness.
Buen camino
Cecelia -
I agree. My first camino my Spanish was pretty basic but each time I walk it gets better (with the help of computer programs). I was so touched and encouraged by people who responded positively to me when I was speaking such fractured Spanish. Many people along the way taught me new phrases and names as I went along, and I always asked "Como se dice?" all the time so that I would learn more. So it's OK now, but not that great - no smooth conversations in Spanish here, but what I've learned is that an openness to learn and communicate in your host's language will certainly encourage people to help you when you're stuck with the language.

There is a lovely little train that goes from Bayonne directly into ST Jean Pied de Port, I would take that rather than a bus.
I agree with everyone's suggestion on reducing days by missing the in and out of Leon and the few km into Burgos. I hired a car with someone to go out to Finesterre, it was a great finish, walking it would have taken quite a long time and after the highpoint of arriving in Santiago and having the Butofumeiro Ceremony at the Cathedral I felt my Camino was complete really.
If you have 31 days, depending on your fitness I think you will have difficulty squeezing in walking to Finesterre, too pressured. Regards, Gitti
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gittiharre said:
There is a lovely little train that goes from Bayonne directly into ST Jean Pied de Port, I would take that rather than a bus.


I agree, but the train is not in operation on account of repairs to the line, and the service is being provided by bus.

Wow, thanks for that, did not know about the train being out of service, Gitti

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