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camino aragones in March 09

rolf

Member
Hi All,

I just started organizing my next Camino; I intend to fly to Pau at the end of March 09, get the bus to Somport, walk the Camino Aragones, and continue on the Frances (Semana Santa in Rioja :D ).
Does anyone have any recent albergue experiences on the Aragones? and I read somewhere about going to San Juan de la Pena (?), is it worth the detour?
I'm not a newbie, but I find it difficult to get any information on this Camino (other than the as always very useful posts).

Thanks a lot!

Rolf
 
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KiwiNomad06

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Hi rolf.... I found this list online with albergues on the Aragonese: http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Forest/1286/Albergar.htm

Also there is this blog by a Kiwi who recently walked along the Camino Aragonese, -you need to go back to September 13th to get the start. Anna often has little notes about albergues etc along the way. http://anna-en-route.livejournal.com/?skip=40

There is also this website in Spanish that has some superb photos of the route, including some of San Juan de la Pena http://www.gronze.com/camino-de-santiago/camino-aragones.htm

Margaret
 

Rebekah Scott

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I say San Juan de la Peña IS worth the trip, but it´s NOT worth the climb up the mountain and back down, especially in winter. Get a taxi or hitch a ride. (I didn´t, and exhausted myself on my second day out... not a good idea!)

The foot-trail down the mountain is treacherous even in fine weather. I can´t imagine trying it if it was wet or muddy or frozen!
 

jl

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Hi Rolf, I walked the Aragonese in 2005 and I stayed at the Albergue at Santa Cilia de Jaca which was delightful then, and even better - not many Kms further on, the one in Ages (I was taking things slowly because of foot problems). Ages is a little like Hontanas on the Meseta in that it just suddenly "appears". The path meanders around the hillside, turns a corner, and lo and behold, there is the village! It is a beautifully restored house (as is Santa Cilia - cared for by a woman in the village at that time) and when I was there the hospitalero took it upon himself to cook dinner for us (there was no shop in the village - there was in Sta Cilia). Ages is a special place, and all the pilgrims were taken to a place to watch the sunset, then to the church for a special "blessing" and in the morning we were woken early for breakfast, given a sandwich and sent on our way in the dawn light, a wonderful experience clambering down the hillside path stopping frequently to watch the magical sunrise.

I have no idea what these places are like now (or if they would be open in March), but I somehow doubt that the wonderful caring and nurturing would change very much. I remember both places with fondness and gratitude. Buen Camino, Janet
 

jl

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not many Kms further on, the one in Ages

Oops - a correction for my post - Arrés NOT Ages - that's what happens when one doesn't concentrate! Cheers, Janet
 
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San Juan de la Pena is certainly worth the climb-- however, the foot trail up from Jaca was terrible in 2005, had deteriorated in 2007, and would likely be impossible in winter. Take the road. The walk is really not that bad. However, many feel comfortable taking a taxi from Jaca or Santa Cilia.

Note that the Camino Aragones is adequately supplied for pilgrims, not generously as is the Caminoi Francese, and more care would need to be taken with supplies etc in the winter.
 

sillydoll

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Make an arrangement through the Jaca tourism office to be taken to the Monastery in the morning and be picked up in the evening. The ride from Jaca takes about half an hour or so.
The (regulated) taxi fare to and from the Monastery is ±5 Euros which includes a stop at the church at the foot of the Mountain, a visit to the "new3" Monastery (350 years old) atop of the mountain and a one hour wait for the visit to the 0ld monastery which is the glorious one carved out of the rock at the side of the mountain about twelve hundred years ago.
On top of the mountain by the "new" monastery there is an "environmental" exhibit in an old building and nestled in the forest trees there is a bar. Those who drive their own cars can only park on top of the mountain for limited periods. While up there in the forest, there are what may be called "picnic grounds" - they are seriously and carefully regulated.
There is no parking, or standing by the "old" monastery except to let people in or out of cars.
The view from up there is breathtaking where from the thick of the mountain forest the valley below can be seen, in all its grandeur and beauty, framed by the ice blue of the snow-capped Pyrenees in the distance.
The "old" Monastery, of course, in and by itself is worth a visit. As you will see, the capitals of the cloister columns have carvings with Biblical scenes, and the figures have supersized eyes..... justifiably so to encapture such beauty.

(Posted by Rosina a couple of years ago)
 

rolf

Member
thank you All for your replies, I will definitely go to San Juan de la Pena, the pictures are just amazing! does anyone know anything about the bus from Oloron to Somport? I read something about a new tunnel (opened in 2002), and that the bus doesn't stop anymore at the start of the Camino Aragones.
and please let me know about your experiences with albergues and other recommendations of places to visit/ stay.
Rolf
 

sillydoll

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One of the best websites to check albergues on all the Spainsh camino routes is:
http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/albergues/

Click on Albergues in the right hand margin and then scroll to Aragones to read about albergues in all the towns and villages on this route.
 

Alan Pearce

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Hi Rolf
I walked this route in April last year, beginning in Pau. After 3 days of walking my companions had a rest day while I wlked to Somport.The next day, as I hiked down from Somport they took the bus to Canfranc where I met up with them. This bus certainly went via Somport, and as you are going during the ski season I would be sure that the bus would take you there.
Which brings me to the next point. When I descended from Somport Pass on 7th April there was snow covering the trail for the first kilometre or so. Some of the markers were a little difficult to spot, but somebody had been that way since the last snowfall and I basically followed their tracks. A fresh fall of snow would have made it harder to find my way. The biggest problem I had was that the snow was frozen solid and was extremely slippery. It was the only time on the camino that I was concerned for my safety, as I was on my own, and not sure whan someone else might come this way were I to have an accident. If you intend to go in March, there may well be a lot of snow around. If this is the case you may need to follow the main roads till you get below the snow line.
I must agree with jl re the albergue at Arres, a highlight of our trip. It was a communal meal, with the women pilgrims helping to prepare the meal and the men washing up after. It was well worth the steep and muddy climb to the village. We shared the albergue with a group from Barcelona who had support vehicles to carry their luggage, and who took us up to the monastary. We 3 Aussies in return sang at the evening meal a verse of "Botant Bay", "Advanve Australia Fair" and all of "Waltzing Matilda". We found it difficult to explain to our audience the appeal to Aussies of that last song, being that it is about a robber who commits suicide to avoid being arrested by the police, but they loved the tune.
We stayed the next night at Ruesta, comfortable, with the restuarant only 50 m from the albergue.
This village was desrted some years ago but is coming to life again with the popularity of the camino. Then we stayed in Sanguesa, Monreal and so on.
May I wish that you enjoy yourself as much as I did.
Buen Camino
Alan
 
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Alan Pearce

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Hi Rolf,
Just another couple of things re the walk down from Somport. About the snowline I came across a sign telling the readers what to do if they saw any brown bears. Now, I had read a lot about the camino, but never once had I seen anything about brown bears! I did not see any, which is just as well, as I regard bears with the same emotion that Kiwis reserve for snakes [ there are no snakes in N.Z. ]. Soon after that sign I found another ,stating that the path was unsafe to use due to bad flooding in previous years. I ignored that advice and found that with normal care the way was not dangerous.
The other comment I would make is that I walked from Somport to Jaca, which from memory is 32 km. I was fit enough, but even so found the sometimes steep path often covered with loose sones to be tough going. If you are not fit with your walking gear fully broken in, it might be a very hard first days walk.
Buen camino
Alan
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
The hospitalera at Arres died unexpectedly in late September or early October, 2008, three days after a sudden onset of meningitis. The albergue is left unlocked for pilgrims and monitored by the woman who operates the bar at the top of the hill, where meals, snacks, and ice cream are available. The guest book indicates that the place is very busy during summer. My brother and I were among fewer than 5 Americans signing in, and indicated that the Camino Aragones is traveled mainly by Spanish pilgrims. The albergue is on three levels. The bottom, which opens onto a secondary street for laundry drying, has the restroom and shower, the middle level has two dormitories, and the top level has a kitchen and dining area on one side and a dining room and lounge on the other. It is clean and well equipped, though without an hospitalera/o the on-going cleanliness will be primarily at the hands of pilgrims. There is a search for a full-time hospitalera/o. The summer seems to have regular volunteers helping.
 

Rebekah Scott

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Hmmm. When I walked the Spanish/extranjero balance was about 50-50, I´d say. It´s true I was the only American, but there were plenty of Germans about, too.
 

sillydoll

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rolf

Member
Thanks so much for all your comments! I just booked the flight to Pau for 26 March. I'm not too worried about the snow (and bears and Germans...), I know when to take risks and when to jump onto a bus. I will let you know how I got on, and hopefully I will meet some people from this forum!
Rolf
 
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Donovan

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Rolf, I have just seen your question regarding buses. I travelled this route late last year and caught a bus around 08:30 from Oloron Ste Marie to Somport. I think there are a few more during the day. The trip takes about 45 minutes. If you overnight in Oloron there is a very nice refuge, Patchwork Auberge tel 05 59 36 10 13, in the Rue Revol. It is run a a Canadian Pierre who is really helpful. If you need a credential you can get one from Pierre.

I am distressed by the news of the death of the hospitallera at Arres. My daughter and I stayed there in late September and enjoyed one of the best evenings we had on the entire camino. This was largely due to hospitality and personalities of the two lovely hospitalleros, a man and a woman from Madrid - both volunteers. Tragic news indeed.

Enjoy the Aragones route, it is special.
Donovan
 

Bridget and Peter

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Intrigued by the thought of bears in the Pyrenees I googled - and came across this sad story.....


Bear dies in Pyrenees car crash

* Kim Willsher in Paris
* The Guardian, Friday 10 August 2007
* Article history

Franska, a Slovenian bear introduced into the French Pyrenees last year in a conservation scheme that infuriated local farmers, has died in a car accident.

The female bear was killed near Lourdes yesterday in a dawn collision with a car on a mountain road.

The animal was one of five bears, four female and one male, let loose in the mountains in south-west France last year to boost the native bear population that has dwindled to around 18 from several hundred over the past century.

Local sheep farmers have waged a fierce campaign against the scheme and demanded the bears be removed. They claim that Franska alone had killed more than 150 sheep.

One month after the 110kg (17-stone) bear was introduced, honey laced with glass shards was found in the mountains. Last month more than 100 farmers dumped the carcasses of seven sheep they claimed had been killed by the animal outside the local government offices.

There was further controversy when it emerged that Franska, who was supposed to be six years old, was closer to 17 and possibly too old to reproduce.

According to witnesses the bear was hit by a vehicle and thrown into the path of a second. It is the second of the five Slovenian bears to die of unnatural causes. The first fell from a cliff a year ago.

"If people had only listened to us, Franska would be living a happy and peaceful life in Slovenia," said Bernard Moules, a local farmers' union official and opponent of the bear scheme.

Bear supporters accused farmers of exaggerating the threat to their livestock and suggested they invested in sheepdogs and shepherds to protect their flocks.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/au ... ernational
 

rolf

Member
only 2 weeks to go now... My backpack is packed (5kg!), I can't wait to start walking :D
Thank you all for your advice, and I will look out for the bears!
Rolf
 

rolf

Member
I hope you are jealous, that's what I was in the last 2 years looking at your posts and reading about your Caminos! :D
I was a little bit surprised about my backpack as well, but I guess my last 3 Caminos helped me in optimizing it. It's funny, but each item has it's designated space and pocket, more or less exactly as it was when I arrived in Finisterre last time. It's really difficult to break with old habits...
 
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sillydoll

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Will you have a blog of your walk? I'll be following in your footsteps - from Lourdes to Oloron then south to Somport and onto the Aragones - in early June. Would love to go on your email list or read your blog.
Have a great walk,
 

rolf

Member
Hi Sil,
No, I don't do blogs, don't know how to do it :-(
But I will post here on the forum a little report, as I did when I did the Ingles.
 

Alan Pearce

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Hi Rolf
Only a couple of days to go !!! May your journey be a joyous one. Don't let the bedbugs [or the bears] bite.
Buen camino.
Alan
 

rolf

Member
I´m in Viana now; the Camino Aragones was incredible, a great experience! I´m still trying to adjust to the reality of the Camino Frances now, suddenly lots of other pilgrims...
I have one more week to go, hope to get until Fromista before I have to catch the flight back home. Will post a detailled report when I´m back, and once I have sorted all my thoughts :)
Greetings to all of you!
Rolf
 
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norway

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rolf said:
I´m in Viana now; the Camino Aragones was incredible, a great experience! I´m still trying to adjust to the reality of the Camino Frances now, suddenly lots of other pilgrims...
I have one more week to go, hope to get until Fromista before I have to catch the flight back home. Will post a detailled report when I´m back, and once I have sorted all my thoughts :)
Greetings to all of you!
Rolf

happy to read that the Camino Aragones was incredible!! I will start around 5th May - can't wait! I have walked before from Le Puy to St.- Jean P de Port - and in 2007 I did St. Jean P de Port - Santiago de Compostela. Was the steep down-track from Somport ok? Lots of snow? Any bears :(, Was there any possibilities for nightstop before Jaca - I think of starting on the route from Lourdes in order to have trained a bit before the steep downtrack from Somport - I see you took a flight to Pau - from Oslo I just found very expensive flights to Pau - might fly to Madrid and then train/bus down to Jaca. Looking forward to see your final report - maybe it's here before I leave. Have nice walkingdays! Gerd caminowalker from Norway :)
 

sillydoll

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Hello Gerd,
I will be starting in Lourdes on 6th June. Our itinerary looks like this:

One night in Lourdes
24 Asson
19 Arudy
23 Oloron-Sainte-Marie
21 Sarrance
22 Borce
25 Canfranc Estacion
25 Jaca
Taxi to San Juan de la Peña and back €10
25 Arres
28 Ruesta
22 Sanguesa
18 Izco
23 Tiébas
18 Puente la Reina – bus to Pamplona
 

rolf

Member
I´m now in Valladolid, waiting for my flight back.
Just a few comments:
I took the bus from Oloron to Somport; the pass was still closed, but I was really lucky and the nice French busdriver drove me up there from Canfranc!
The albergue in Canfranc Estacion (Pepito Grillo) was closed on that day, if you want to stay there it might be worth it to call a few days ahead.
Make use of the various tourist information offices on the way, the staff are always friendly and you can get useful information, eg. I was told that the last bit before Jaca was flooded and that I would have to walk along the road (at which point a miraculously a bus arrived...).
I went up to San Juan de la Pena, but the taxi was €26, single way, without waiting. I don´t think that the €5 option exists, I asked at the tourist info. Also I booked the taxi there, as there were no taxis at the official taxi rank.
I walked from San Juan de la Pena to Arres, but the first stretch is really steep, don´t do it in heavy rain!
Izco appeared to be closed, I tried to stop there, but no one was around, and no one answered the bell.
Consider doing the detour to the Foz de Lumbier from Sanguesa, it´s about 5k extra, but the vultures are worth it!

And I didn´t see any bears, just a few snakes...

Rolf
 

rolf

Member
oh, and Gerd and all the others thinking about flying to Pau; the Ryanair flight might look cheap, but there is no public transport at the airport, and the only way to get to Pau station was by taxi (€30). The train from Pau to Oloron was €16, and the bus to Canfranc was €8.90.
 
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norway

New Member
rolf said:
oh, and Gerd and all the others thinking about flying to Pau; the Ryanair flight might look cheap, but there is no public transport at the airport, and the only way to get to Pau station was by taxi (€30). The train from Pau to Oloron was €16, and the bus to Canfranc was €8.90.


hello Rolf - tks for infos! snakes.... :roll: Looking at the weather reports it looks very cold just now - but by 7th - 10th May it surely is better! I am packing and unpacking... trying to do better than last time. I suppose sleeping bag is required?!

have a great time - and start planning next camino - maybe?

gerd :D
 

rolf

Member
Yes, snakes, on the way down from Somport. I guess they enjoyed the nice spring sun as much as I did. But you have to be careful not to step on them, and also they were a little bit aggressive...
And yes, you will need a sleeping bag, though most albergues had blankets as well.
And yes, planning my next camino, maybe Camino Ingles again early next month :D
And enjoy the Camino Aragones, it's a great route!
Rolf
 

norway

New Member
Hello again - tks for info - will NOT step on the snakes...schzzzzzzz - finally have my tickets - going to Toulouse which was the sheepest way from Oslo - and then a train to Oloron. I have looked at the camino Ingles - looks like a nice one too - something to do in future. I have done the frances frist from Le Puy to St JPDP (which is just wonderful - specially the part of Aubrac! I'll do that again! and then I did from SJPP to Santiago. I am looking very much forward to the Aragones - apparently no so many people and it looks very nice! Buen camino on the camino ingles!

gerd :D
 

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