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Best day of the week to start at SJPdP in May?

JustJack

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF: May/June 2023
VDLP: April/May 2024
In order to maximize my allotted time away from work, I'm thinking of flying Vancouver to Paris on a Saturday. That would get me to Paris on Sunday, and depending on which airline I could hopefully catch a flight or train to SJPdP the same day.

So if I left Vancouver on Saturday I would likely be in SJPdP on Sunday, and start walking on Monday.

Question: looking at the first few days walking to Pamplona, are there any advantages/disadvantages to departing on Monday versus Sunday or Tuesday? Or any other day really? Is SJPdP or any other places between there and Pamplona best avoided on certain days of the week?

It probably makes little to no difference exactly what day of the week I start walking, but I don't know what I don't know, and it doesn't hurt to ask. So I'm asking - does it make any difference whatsoever what day of the week I begin walking? This would be mid-May 2023. (Yes I'm getting into all the minutia when there's still a year to go, but now that I'm starting my One-Year-Countdown I'm digging into all the little bits and pieces...)
 
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Hola @JustJack,
Whilst I can understand you wish to "maximise" your time on camino, you are crossing 8/9/10/11 time zones. Now I do not know how you handle jet lag but imho it will affect your day one performance, especially if you are intending to walk the Napoleon Route and hoping to be in Pamplona (in say 3 or 4 days).
I am not an over experienced pilgrim - 2 Frances. But I offer the advice that regardless of what training you do before the Camino it still takes you 3 or 4 days to get what I call "Camino Fit". You are getting used to walking with 8/10kg (22lbs) on your back for 15/20km (10 miles); sleeping in different beds etc.
So whats my recommedation? Well yes any day is good but maybe give yourself a full days rest before starting. Buen Camino
 
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Hola @JustJack,
Whilst I can understand you wish to "maximise" your time on camino, you are crossing 8/9/10/11 time zones. Now I do not know how you handle jet lag but imho it will affect your day one performance, especially if you are intending to walk the Napoleon Route and hoping to be in Pamplona (in say 3 or 4 days).
I am not an over experienced pilgrim - 2 Frances. But I offer the advice that regardless of what training you do before the Camino it still takes you 3 or 4 days to get what I call "Camino Fit". You are getting used to walking with 8/10kg (22lbs) on your back for 15/20km (10 miles); sleeping in different beds etc.
So whats my recommedation? Well yes any day is good but maybe give yourself a full days rest before starting. Buen Camino
It will be a struggle for sure to pace myself those first few days and you are quite right that I won’t be used to it. Your point is well taken.
 
This would be mid-May 2023
It is always useful to pay attention to public holidays. In 2023, Ascension falls on Thursday 18 May. Ascension is always on a Thursday and nearly always in May. It means a long weekend for many and more travel than usual. Ascension is not a public holiday in Spain but it is in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden - a major customers group of the Pilgrims Office in SJPP.

And for those planning for 2024: May 1 is on a Wednesday and Ascension on 9 May. An attractive combination that is a guarantee for pilgrim pandemonium on the SJPP to Pamplona section during early May.
 
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I too came from western Canada to the Camino. I started from a small Gulf Island while a train strike was starting in France. It took me 4 days to get to the “start line” in SJPdP! Despite having a strong running, gym, walking base for years before going, and walking about 18k/day with full pack for a few months prior to going, it was no picnic. If I could give you one small piece of advice, it would be this: DO NOT RUSH THE START.
 
In order to maximize my allotted time away from work, I'm thinking of flying Vancouver to Paris on a Saturday. That would get me to Paris on Sunday, and depending on which airline I could hopefully catch a flight or train to SJPdP the same day.

So if I left Vancouver on Saturday I would likely be in SJPdP on Sunday, and start walking on Monday.

Question: looking at the first few days walking to Pamplona, are there any advantages/disadvantages to departing on Monday versus Sunday or Tuesday? Or any other day really? Is SJPdP or any other places between there and Pamplona best avoided on certain days of the week?

It probably makes little to no difference exactly what day of the week I start walking, but I don't know what I don't know, and it doesn't hurt to ask. So I'm asking - does it make any difference whatsoever what day of the week I begin walking? This would be mid-May 2023. (Yes I'm getting into all the minutia when there's still a year to go, but now that I'm starting my One-Year-Countdown I'm digging into all the little bits and pieces...)
Forgive me if you are well aware of traveling east to Europe, but the time zone changes can be exhausting. The first section leaving SJPdP is a small challenge if you are not quite yet warmed up to walking hills with a pack. Millions have made the walk so it’s certainly doable. The point is you might want to plan a day of recovery before beginning and Sunday is a beautiful day to lay around most anywhere in France or Spain. Whatever day you choose to begin don’t make it miserable.
 
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It will be a struggle for sure to pace myself those first few days and you are quite right that I won’t be used to it. Your point is well taken.
Consider staying at Orison or Boarda for your first part day or if you have to go day 1 to Roncesvalles send your bag ahead to help you get Camino fit.
I flew into Biarritz from Paris and then used Express Burricot to SJPDP
 

The above will give a lot of information on your initial days getting to...the Starting Line. One point, as SJPdP is in the mountains, there are no nearby airports. I have done this leg via Toronto / Paris, a bus to Montparnasse Station, a train ride South for 6 hours, then a bus ride for 2 hours to SJPdP. That took 2 1/2 days including an overnight in a hostel a few blocks from the train station. A train from Paris to Bayonne will take most of a day. Then it will be either a shared taxi or a bus ride for 2 hours to SJPdP.

And, as it takes some time to travel, the first thing done in SJPdP is to find a bed upon arrival. Or, maybe find the Pilgrim office and get a passport, then a bed.

Now, once ready to start, there are actually two routes to choose from, the Napoleon Route and the Valcarlos Route. The Valcarlos Route is a bit easier, not much shorter but a bit less climb up and down.

For me, on the Napoleon, it hit my legs, going up one day and down, mostly, the next.

Here is a possible itinerary for the best outcome in 4 days to Pamplona;

Day1: SJPdP to Valcarlos
Day 2: Valcarlos to Burgete
Day 3: Burgete to Larasoanna
Day 4: Larasoanna to Pamplona

This plan starts with a light climb over 10 km or so. The next day, a bit tougher climb followed by mostly level and short ups and downs until reaching the valley of the Roi Erro. It can be tough on legs climbing both up and down the Pyrenees the first day, making the next morning a bit tough, even though the ups and downs are diminished in Day 2. But the climb down to Rio Erro and on to Zubiri. The walk from Zubiri to Larasoanna is fairly level, and on to Pamplona.

I will leave the rest so no one accuses me of spoilers, lol.

Buen Camino!
 
In order to maximize my allotted time away from work, I'm thinking of flying Vancouver to Paris on a Saturday. That would get me to Paris on Sunday, and depending on which airline I could hopefully catch a flight or train to SJPdP the same day.

So if I left Vancouver on Saturday I would likely be in SJPdP on Sunday, and start walking on Monday.

Question: looking at the first few days walking to Pamplona, are there any advantages/disadvantages to departing on Monday versus Sunday or Tuesday? Or any other day really? Is SJPdP or any other places between there and Pamplona best avoided on certain days of the week?

It probably makes little to no difference exactly what day of the week I start walking, but I don't know what I don't know, and it doesn't hurt to ask. So I'm asking - does it make any difference whatsoever what day of the week I begin walking? This would be mid-May 2023. (Yes I'm getting into all the minutia when there's still a year to go, but now that I'm starting my One-Year-Countdown I'm digging into all the little bits and pieces...)
The very best day to start is one with and 'a' in it!!!!
 
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Our Atmospheric H30 poncho offers lightness and waterproofness. Easily compressible and made with our Waterproof fabric, its heat-sealed interior seams guarantee its waterproofness. Includes carrying bag.

€60,-
It is always useful to pay attention to public holidays. In 2023, Ascension falls on Thursday 18 May. Ascension is always on a Thursday and nearly always in May. It means a long weekend for many and more travel than usual. Ascension is not a public holiday in Spain but it is in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden - a major customers group of the Pilgrims Office in SJPP.

And for those planning for 2024: May 1 is on a Wednesday and Ascension on 9 May. An attractive combination that is a guarantee for pilgrim pandemonium on the SJPP to Pamplona section during early May.
Many thanks for the heads up on this. I did google national holidays in Spain, but as you've noted this one didn't show up as it's not a holiday in Spain. Hopefully as long as I leave SJPDP before Thursday I will hopefully avoid the potential surge of pilgrims.
 
I too came from western Canada to the Camino. I started from a small Gulf Island while a train strike was starting in France. It took me 4 days to get to the “start line” in SJPdP! Despite having a strong running, gym, walking base for years before going, and walking about 18k/day with full pack for a few months prior to going, it was no picnic. If I could give you one small piece of advice, it would be this: DO NOT RUSH THE START.
Yikes, I can't say that I'm walking 18k/day with a pack (or without one for that matter). I consider myself in reasonable shape, but I do indeed need to do some training.
 
I too came from western Canada to the Camino. I started from a small Gulf Island while a train strike was starting in France. It took me 4 days to get to the “start line” in SJPdP! Despite having a strong running, gym, walking base for years before going, and walking about 18k/day with full pack for a few months prior to going, it was no picnic. If I could give you one small piece of advice, it would be this: DO NOT RUSH THE START.
VERY good advice!
 
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Transport luggage-passengers.
From airports to SJPP
Luggage from SJPP to Roncevalles
In order to maximize my allotted time away from work, I'm thinking of flying Vancouver to Paris on a Saturday. That would get me to Paris on Sunday, and depending on which airline I could hopefully catch a flight or train to SJPdP the same day.

So if I left Vancouver on Saturday I would likely be in SJPdP on Sunday, and start walking on Monday.

Question: looking at the first few days walking to Pamplona, are there any advantages/disadvantages to departing on Monday versus Sunday or Tuesday? Or any other day really? Is SJPdP or any other places between there and Pamplona best avoided on certain days of the week?

It probably makes little to no difference exactly what day of the week I start walking, but I don't know what I don't know, and it doesn't hurt to ask. So I'm asking - does it make any difference whatsoever what day of the week I begin walking? This would be mid-May 2023. (Yes I'm getting into all the minutia when there's still a year to go, but now that I'm starting my One-Year-Countdown I'm digging into all the little bits and pieces...)
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
It is always useful to pay attention to public holidays. In 2023, Ascension falls on Thursday 18 May. Ascension is always on a Thursday and nearly always in May. It means a long weekend for many and more travel than usual. Ascension is not a public holiday in Spain but it is in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden - a major customers group of the Pilgrims Office in SJPP.

And for those planning for 2024: May 1 is on a Wednesday and Ascension on 9 May. An attractive combination that is a guarantee for pilgrim pandemonium on the SJPP to Pamplona section during early May.
I’m looking to start early May and I saw your mentioning of the pandemonium of starting in early May 😬 Unfortunately, May/June is the only time I can really take off for work. Any recommendations or suggestions on when I should begin?
 
Hi @Danielle12 and welcome to the forum. I was going to reply that I did not write "pilgrim pandemonium" but alas I did ... take it as poetic liberty. I was thinking more of needlessly panicky and alarmist threads on this forum than of the reality on the ground when I wrote this.

First of all, there is not an incredibly huge number of people walking from SJPP during the first two weeks of May. The issue is the number of people and the number of beds available right where they want to stop during their first few days. With a bit of planning and flexibility, everybody will be just fine.

For example, book your night in Roncesvalles, even when you've read a hundred times that one should just walk without booking because that means freedom and the Camino will provide. Well, it can mean the freedom to get a group taxi together with others and stay elsewhere for the night where a bed will indeed be provided.

I personally would avoid arriving on the 1st of May or on the weekend following the first of May in 2024 and I would avoid arriving in Pamplona on a Friday or Saturday without having booked.

Of course you will always find people who say they were fine without ever having booked a single bed. Yes, some people will be. Not all people, and there is no guarantee that it will be you. ;)

But it's really just a few days of the year and just in this first section of the Camino Francés. When you follow the threads concerning this topic (starting in SJPP in early May and early September) you will get a better feel for this particular situation.

Buen Camino!
 

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