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The big map o the Caminos de Santiago

Best Guide Books

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
#1
I thought it might be useful to share opinions on the various guide books available. I will put my 2 bobs worth in by commenting on the VDLP route. The 2 main (only?) guides are the Alison Raju and Cole/davies books. This route is now very well marked and I have heard of someone who walked without any guide. I don't recommend this as there are times when the arrows are not too evident or through towns. The Raju book is compact durable but now includes starting from Granada as an alternative to seville. This adds to the weight of the book. The Cole/Davies book is larger and has the advantage of depicting elevations-the raju book does indicate elevations between points but it's good to see a diagramme.
I found myself using the raju book more than the other.
My question is about the french way-I gather I could just follow the hordes and not need a guide book but would previous walkers of this route advise the Raju or Brierley book. The latter book has good reviews on Amazon but looks pretty hefty at 320 pages.
Any suggestions?
 
#2
Can’t believe I just did this but I weighed a CSJ CF paperback (2005) against a VDP Cicerone. Not a ‘like for like’ in terms of subject.
CSJ=175gms against Cicerone 375gms.
On the principle that ‘time spent on reconnaissance is never wasted’ use the CSJ for day to day route information and do all the research in advance regarding anything of interest that you might want to make a detour to see. The CSJ is pretty good at pointing out things of interest one or two pages of notes might be preferable to another whole book.
As regards elevations I got my passport from Les Amis du Chemin de St. Jaques in SJPdP and they gave me an A4 sheet with 34 daily distance/elevation diagrams on it.
You can download http://www.aucoeurduchemin.org/spip/IMG ... s_voir.pdf


Regards
michael
 
#3
I brought both the Brierley (the second edition is somewhat lighter than the first) and CSJ guide on the Camino Frances - the former for the detailed maps of both route and villages/towns and distances and the latter for facilities along the way (shops and preferred albergues) - though I did not take the covers just the pages I needed and threw away the pages (apart from the single page for each leg from Brierley) as I went
 
#4
books, maps, and so on

I have had a big book, the way of st james which is one published in several languages. I copied out the pages I needed for the leg. Sadly, I could not locate it for the second time. As there was not much time to get shop around for the second time I purchased a lonely planet book. I stopped by in Leon before going to Astorga for the start. In Leon I got a DINA4 sheet with all the essentials, list of places, their distances and the facilities available. On the back was a profile. That was sufficient to do the walk. I also found some little guide books and maps from Castille, Leon and Galicia free from local authorities.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#5
I'm visual + have a hard time with detailed, "busy," maps. I like to have brief descriptions of the places I pass through to help me decide where and for how long I'd like to stay and visit, or not. Also, I like to have roads divided into "suggested" etapas, distances, etc., so that I can decide what etapas I'd like walk. I also like to keep my guidebooks as mementos of my caminos. There's no perfect guidebook. Changes, particularly in facilities like albergues, happen often, another reason for which I like to "invest" in an "updated" guidebook every time I walk the Roads. Also, there's not one guidebook that am aware of that covers all Roads to St James-it'd be kinda heavy to carry on a backpack (though it would make a nice reference book). So far, the Spanish-language guidebook published by "El Pais/Aguilar," has met up to the above. So far. Hope it doesn't change its format. Best, xm 8)
 
#6
omar504 said:
My question is about the french way-I gather I could just follow the hordes and not need a guide book but would previous walkers of this route advise the Raju or Brierley book. The latter book has good reviews on Amazon but looks pretty hefty at 320 pages.
Any suggestions?
There is actually another Davies/Cole guide to the Camino Frances, and it has already gone into the second edition ("Walking the Camino de Santiago", ISBN 0-9731698-2-6, can be purchased directly from the publisher at http://www.pilipalapress.com.)
 

evanlow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances06
Primitivo07
Plata08
Norte12
Levante(14-15)
Vasco16
Mozarabe(16-17)
Madrid17
Portuguese18
#7
It's tough to choose between the extra weight and the convenience of have the extra information at hand. Every pilgrim have to sort this out their own way.

If you are doing the french route, I recommend also to check out the MSN camino user group site.

http://groups.msn.com/ElCaminoSantiago

It's got everything, including elevation maps you can print out. Maybe that would help you decide better which combination of books, printouts, etc. to carry.

Buen Camino.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDqpuCwqzTc
 
#8
omar504 said:
I will put my 2 bobs worth in by commenting on the VDLP route. The 2 main (only?) guides are the Alison Raju and Cole/davies books. This route is now very well marked and I have heard of someone who walked without any guide.
A very good alternative guide that describes the VDLP (incl. Camino Sanabrès) is the one that is published by the "Asociación de Amigos del Camino de Santiago de Sevilla". There is a description of every stage with a map and an elevation diagram. It gives brief info about services you find in the villages you pass through and info about the albergues.
The first pages contain the changes of the guide.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2011) Camino Frances (2010)
#9
Re: Best Guide Books - Guide to the Camino: St Jean to Santiago

Guide to the Camino: St Jean to Santiago de Compostela was published earlier in 2013 and has now been completely sold out. There is a tremendous amount of interest in the Camino in Australia and being the only detailed published guidebook to the Camino written by an Australian over the last 6 months, the book really took off here. The good news is that it is now avialable in e-book format on the website http://www.guidetothecaminocom

The book includes:

preparation for walking the pilgrimage route
lists of what to take with you
a day-by-day guide to the trail (34 days)
detailed maps
150 colour photos
things to see and do
details of local history and legends, fiestas and fairs
recommendations of where to eat, drink and buy supplies
information on comfortable ensuite accommodation in hotels, hostels and pensións including those run by monks, nuns and religious orders
times of Pilgrims’ Masses
daily ‘flashbacks’ to the authors’ time on the Camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
#10
I like reading the Brierley at home - but imho the best to carry with you has to be the Michelin 'Camino de Santiago' (Michelin 160).
Perfect 1/150,000 clear maps, the route is overlaid over real maps so you can see where you are in the Spanish landscape. Has everything you need to know -
Distances, height profiles, daily difficulty levels, refugios (with bed numbers and phone numbers), restaurants, churches, monasteries, shops, pharmacies, buses, trains, etc etc etc
Full place names index and it even has pages at the back for extra Pilgrim stamps
Key in Six languages - Spanish - English - Dutch - French - Italian - German
Gloss cover, measures 8 x 4.5 inches (20 x 11.5 cms) and weighs just 84gms - less than 3 ounces!

see pics of it here http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=200934830323&ssPageName=STRK:MESE:IT
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
#11
David...
Hopefully, Michelan will publish a guide on the VdlP..would love to have one for my start August 6.
If there already is one I have missed it.
I would have loved to have one on the Le Puy last year. MMDD just isn't any help with anything but accommodation.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
#12
I agree - with so many pilgrims on so many Caminos each year I think they are missing a good opportunity
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2014)
#14
I ordered Trish Clark's Guide to the Camino but can't open it on my ipad mini. The ipad mini tries to open it with Google Drive but that app says it doesn't recognize the format . I am excited to get the Guide but frustrated that I can't read it. Anybody able to make suggestions? I am not exactly computer illiterate but this has me stumped.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
#16
Al the optimist said:
This not a recommendation, just a comment. I found that when consulting the different guides that my fellow pilgrims and I had we often found that they had different distances for the same start/end points!
Al - finally I have found someone who also can not understand how if you check 2, 3, even 4 references the distances often vary and in some cases by more than 2 or 3 km. Some of these I put down to starting points (eg distance from previous nights albergue to the one being used tonight), others I just cannot understand - especially those that vary by more than 3 KM. So maybe a suggestion for guide books authors to adopt is to start their measurements from a known intersection/church/cafe, preferably on the departure side of the town or village and then end the measurements at a similar reference point on the arrival side of the next town. Distances to significant features (churchs/albergues/plaza mayor etc) could then be separately stated. Also with the increased use of GPS by many pilgrims (most smart phones have this feature or else carry a separate unit) then maybe include the coordinates for the starting and stopping places. Again I agree with Al - not a specific request, but yes a recommendation as and when guide books are updated. Cheers :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
#17
The different distances are because the Camino goes over, well, the Camino!
It is a simple thing to add up road mileages - to get exact measurements of the Camino would necessitate going over it with a mileomoter wheel - and even they aren't accurate unless you walk exactly in a straight line.

The real problem with the guide books, to me, is that they give 'day stages' and people try to keep up with them - which means they lose the present, always wondering how far to the end of the day and so on. Also, people book their flights to have 'enough time' based on the guides .. one day of tiredness or injury or bad weather and their pilgrimage is ruined as all they do is to try to catch up with their arbitrary invented schedule.

Personally I think that a pilgrim should walk exactly how far or how little they want to walk each day, regardless of what guide books may say!
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#18
David said:
The real problem with the guide books, to me, is that they give 'day stages' and people try to keep up with them - which means they lose the present, always wondering how far to the end of the day and so on. Also, people book their flights to have 'enough time' based on the guides .. one day of tiredness or injury or bad weather and their pilgrimage is ruined as all they do is to try to catch up with their arbitrary invented schedule.
As much as I would agree with the last paragraph of your post @David, I must say that it isn't the problem in guidebooks but in the people who use them. So I guess the people are the problem (when/if they wouldn't listen to their body & soul) and not the guidebooks :roll:
 
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
#19
Sure - but if you have booked your flight for the 17th the flight is on the 17th and the only knowledge they had about how long it takes is from the guide books - don't you think? :|
 
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
#21
KinkyOne said:
Yes, David, that's exactly why they are the problem :wink:
They? People are they? They are a problem? People are a problem? People who have no experience and buy guide books and read them and in all honesty and trust believe them are a problem?

Buen Camino "KinkyOne" :|
 

nidarosa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes please!
#22
Whoah ... having recently got back from a potentially disastrous walk in much less populated areas than the Camino, getting seriously lost trying to follow a guide book which was several bocadillos short of a nutritional pilgrim meal and probably written from maps and not experience, I have to say you should never, ever, ever, trust a guide book completely - and definitely not the amount of kms you think you can do in a day. Give it a few extra days if you can, or if you can't, start in a different place or be prepared to bus past some stages in case something should happen to make it physically impossible to walk the distance in a sensible way in the time you have available.

Guide books should be considered perishables - in most cases they'll be outdated before they are even printed. Problems can occur when the book is old, incorrect, ambiguous etc, and some people will always take everything they read as gospel (sorry about the pun) whether the source is unreliable or not.

Rule of thumb should always be to leave yourself a bit of time and slack to really enjoy your Camino, with all its little detours and mysterious ways, and not make it a race to get to a bed or get to Santiago in a specific time. I know most people are on restricted time, but then you should take that into account when you plan - maybe start a few stages further in? Go to places in between the 'official' stages? Follow your feet as far as they will go in a day? Listen to your body instead of having every minute planned and mapped out?

Buen camino!
 
#23
nidarosa said:
Rule of thumb should always be to leave yourself a bit of time and slack to really enjoy your Camino, with all its little detours and mysterious ways, and not make it a race to get to a bed or get to Santiago in a specific time. I know most people are on restricted time, but then you should take that into account when you plan - maybe start a few stages further in? Go to places in between the 'official' stages? Follow your feet as far as they will go in a day? Listen to your body instead of having every minute planned and mapped out?
Couldn't agree more! Guides are useful for giving an approximate timeframe. I then like to add extra days to cater for the unforeseen be they whims or emergencies. Far better to start closer to Santiago and be able to finish wherever it feels right on the day rather than to feel that you are committed to a schedule.

Having a tight deadline creates a psychological pressure that can diminish the Camino experience.

Rather than carry a heavy guidebook, I prefer to prepare my own guide with distances, elevations and symbols to indicate the presence of an albergue, bar, shop, fountain etc.

The following information sheets are handy for the Camino Frances:

http://asantiago.org/distancias.pdf
http://www.aucoeurduchemin.org/spip/IMG ... imprim.pdf
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
#24
Julie & Others, yes a guide book is exactly that "a guide" and no matter how recent the publication there will (almost) always be changes. This I accept as part of the adventure of travel. What I am not prepared to accept is where lazy authors/publishers put out the same out-of-date crap and still expect travellers to buy it. Therefore venues such as this forum allow novices (me included) to make corrections to any copies of a guide book. [ I also tried to produce my own cutdown version - but basic resources for the Camino VLDP are limited and the best data I found was on this forum - thanks to those who compiled the data!!]

My other complaint is that even when you notify a publisher about an error - often the error is still there!! So come on - if you are an author/publisher of Camino guide books please make use of this virtually free resource and update your books - and hopefully acknowledge the assistance provided (lol??) 8)
 

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