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LIVE from the Camino Camino de Invierno mid-April 2024

sun is shining

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Day 1: Ponferrada to Villavieja

As usual, life has a habit of changing plans so we found ourselves on the Invierno a month later than expected. Regardless though, we are happy to finally get started!

Day 1 was a hard one right from the off. We flew into Madrid late yesterday evening and took the night bus to Ponferrada (ALSA bus straight from Madrid T4, arrival in Ponferrada just after 5pm). From the ALSA station it was a quick 1.5km to the “beginning” of the Invierno. Off we went into the dark, following the markers that are - even with head torches - easy to find. We made speedy progress until Toral de Merayo, and by 7:15am it was light enough to start enjoying the scenery. Although the walk in the dark had its charms too, lots of glittering reflections along the trail from plants covered in dew drops.

The trail was dry until the final descent into Toral where it gets muddy for a short steep-ish section. Coming out of Toral was similar, muddy (some building works going on because it looks like heavy machinery dug deep trails in the mud) but nothing that can’t be done.

The rest of the walk was fine. Frequent water fountains, lots of shade, and easy to follow markers. Until that hike up to Villavieja. We’ve been forewarned through forum posts but it was much harder than expected. Nothing undoable but by that time we were seriously tired and hungry. Temps reached 25c by 10:30am which didn’t help.

But it was so worth it! The albergue is a thing of beauty, comfortable, well-equipped, and with a stunning view. And clearly we aren’t the only ones that think so. Currently there are (inkl us two) 8 pilgrims here which is much higher than we expected. The Invierno clearly seems to be gaining in popularity. And given the absolutely beautiful scenery that’s really not a surprise.

I liked the format @Grizzlybero used in their “live on the Primitivo” thread so I’ll try to use something similar. We are on a longer sabbatical so making cost-wise decisions is important and others might be in a similar situation.

Total km: 18
Accommodation: Albergue municipal de Villavieja “Manuel Fuentes”
Cost & Access: 10€ pP - the albergue is not staffed but you can get the access code via phone or email from the local ayuntamiento in advanced
Total spend (two people): 26€ (the albergue has a very well-equipped kitchen, food has to be brought in though from one of the earlier towns)

Plans for tomorrow so far is a very early start towards Las Medulas, breakfast / remote work session, and onwards to Casa Rosa in Puente de Domingo Florez. Most of the others that stay here today have a similar plan. I’ll keep you update how it’s going and thanks for all the pre-Camino advice!!
 
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Day 2: Villavieja to Puente Domingo Florez

Day 2 was another early start for us. We left Villavieja in the dark and followed the traditional Camino route towards Las Medulas. If we could change things we‘d stick to the La Chana alternative that gets suggested here a lot because the descent into Borrenes on the asphalt was less than inspiring. However, because we started out in the dark we got to see the very vibrant stars and - as an added bonus - avoided any road traffic.

Borrenes was still fast asleep when we arrived around 7:15am (understandably) but there’s a water fountain and a couple of spots to rest before starting with the next ascent. Which turned out not to be too bad. The trail leads away from the asphalt pretty quickly and the incline is manageable. Lots of shade too!

We found Las Medulas completely quiet when we arrived at 9:30am. All shops and bars were closed and no tourists around yet. So we had a peaceful stroll through the area before settling down for our work / breakfast date at the Agoga. They opened just after 10am and confirmed that they are open every day for breakfast (but she did say that if you want something substantial early in the morning it’s best to let them know in advance).

What a difference two hours make! Picking up the Camino at midday showed us a very different side of Las Medulas - most places were open, a couple of tour busseshad arrived, and there was a long queue outside the information centre. The Camino however was the usual oasis of tranquility, not another person in sight until Puente Domingo Florez. And what a breathtaking way it was! Two reasons though, a) it was getting really hot and there’s little to no shade for the 8km but more importantly b) so many wildflowers! The scenery was unbelievably beautiful. This is my first spring Camino and I’m sold. Still, with the heat the trail dragged on towards the end.

Luckily Casa Rosa is right at the entrance of town and the welcome here was great. The family that runs the Albergue is very friendly and knows a lot about the Invierno and the development of the Camino in this region. PDF has a large Corviran supermarket (opens at 4:30pm) and a bar (Los Arcos) right next to it. Ideal to stock up on provisions for the next couple of days. Los Arcos has a simple snack-type menu and the kitchen opens only at 8pm (but do ask because depending on how many people are working that day it might open sooner. So bocadillos and patatas braves it was for dinner (tasty!) because Casa Rosa only has a small area to prep food but no kitchen / nothing to heat up food.

Tonight we are here with two other pilgrims that we already meet yesterday in Villavieja. The two Spanish guys are staying in private accommodation because Casa Rosa is neither listed on Gronze nor in the BuenCamino app so they weren’t aware. It’s a wonderful place though full of little details that make the stay here special.

Total km: 21
Accommodation: Casa Rosa
Beds Occupied: 4 of 8
Cost & Access: Donativo. We let the lovely family that runs Casa Rosa know that we were coming two days ahead via WhatsApp. Albergue opens at 2pm. No kitchen but an eating area with plates / cutlery / hot and cold drinks. Breakfast is available at 7:30am but we are leaving before that time unfortunately.
Total spend (two people): 67 Euro (includes provisions for the next couple of days though)
 
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A question though for the Invierno experts: there’s an „albergue municipal“ sign above a door on the right side of the ayuntamiento building - is that something that’s coming up or a thing of the past?
 
Thank you for sharing your experience. The Invierno is my route for next spring, so I look forward to following your journey.
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Day 3: Puente Domingo Florez - Xagoaza

What a good nights rest we had at Casa Rosa - only slightly too short because today’s predicted high temperatures meant another early start. Which turned out completely fine. The trail was easy to walk in the dark and tbh, these “walking into the sunrise” mornings are really starting to grow on me. We passed Pumares which is a lovely little town where the inhabitants seem to be big supporters of the Camino. Lots of encouraging signs and even a sello station.

We had breakfast at the beautiful rest station (arbol de descanso 1.5km from Noguerias) before continuing on to Sobradelo for a well deserved coffee. The Camino takes you straight past a bar (Pontenova) which was at 10am the social hub of town already. From there onwards the Camino was at times less than inspiring with lots of asphalt walking in the direct sunlight. There’s a fountain in Entoma but it wasn’t working when we walked past - looks like there’s an open bar next to it though.

Onwards to O Barco and now our frequent breaks caught up with us. Temps were nearing 30c around midday and the first bar we passed seemed like paradise while we downed several litres of water there. And here I realised that it was a bad day to speak Spanish 😅 Upon hearing of our plan to stay at the Xagoaza albergue a lively discussion ensured about the craziness of the endeavour, the monumentally steep incline and something about “rather doing all the Sunday morning shifts for a month than attempting this with this heat”.

Well, we did survive the walk to the albergue - just. Not much shade to be had and the asphalt reflecting the heat didn’t help things. So if you are about to start the Invierno don’t be fooled by the name - pack lots of sunscreen, a hat and decent shades.

The Xagoaza albergue makes me a bit sad. I’ve read the Gronze reviews that it’s dirty etc but hoped to really like this place. Personally, I appreciate it when the EU spends funds on sustainable rural development of which this albergue should be the posterchild. But alas, the reviews were somewhat correct. Unfortunately the interior really shows a lack of love and care. The structure is outstanding, wide open spaces, lots of showers (fantastic water pressure) and toilets, equipped kitchen, real sheets - what more could you want? But you soon see what the reviews are about. Cobwebs, stuff on the floor, overflowing bin in the kitchen and old stuff in the fridge. The kitchen is in fact pretty dirty (although that’s probably a pilgrim issue) and the washing machine is covered in mold. Most of these things should hopefully easily be fixable by providing cleaning stuff and directions to pilgrims (e.g., empty trash can in xx spot outside, here are mops for the shower stalls, rugs to clean the tables after dinner, etc). On the flipside, the hospitaliera was lovely whenever we chatted on WhatsApp (she didn’t come round that day) and I hope that more pilgrims staying over night might increase her allocated time to take care of this outstanding albergue.

Regardless, we had a fantastic night (just us two and one other peregrina that we’ve seen since Ponferrada) with tasty dinner and a beautiful sunset view. That is to say, yes the reviews are somewhat true but this is an albergue that’s not to be missed. The view and the tranquility made this - even after the gruelling ascent - to one of my favourite albergue experiences on any Camino. My suggestion, walk across the road to the church (closed unfortunately) and sit in the shade of the surrounding trees - this is what „disconnecting“ on the Camino feels like.

Onwards to A Rua tomorrow!


Total km: 25km
Accommodation: Albergue Xagoaza.
Cost & Access: 10€ pP. I messaged the hospitaliera via WhatsApp the day before, door to the albergue was unlocked when we arrived.
Total spend: 28€
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Very light, comfortable and compressible poncho. Specially designed for protection against water for any activity.

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.

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@sun
Day 3: Puente Domingo Florez - Xagoaza

What a good nights rest we had at Casa Rosa - only slightly too short because today’s predicted high temperatures meant another early start. Which turned out completely fine. The trail was easy to walk in the dark and tbh, these “walking into the sunrise” mornings are really starting to grow on me. We passed Pumares which is a lovely little town where the inhabitants seem to be big supporters of the Camino. Lots of encouraging signs and even a sello station.

We had breakfast at the beautiful rest station (arbol de descanso 1.5km from Noguerias) before continuing on to Sobradelo for a well deserved coffee. The Camino takes you straight past a bar (Pontenova) which was at 10am the social hub of town already. From there onwards the Camino was at times less than inspiring with lots of asphalt walking in the direct sunlight. There’s a fountain in Entoma but it wasn’t working when we walked past - looks like there’s an open bar next to it though.

Onwards to O Barco and now our frequent breaks caught up with us. Temps were nearing 30c around midday and the first bar we passed seemed like paradise while we downed several litres of water there. And here I realised that it was a bad day to speak Spanish 😅 Upon hearing of our plan to stay at the Xagoaza albergue a lively discussion ensured about the craziness of the endeavour, the monumentally steep incline and something about “rather doing all the Sunday morning shifts for a month than attempting this with this heat”.

Well, we did survive the walk to the albergue - just. Not much shade to be had and the asphalt reflecting the heat didn’t help things. So if you are about to start the Invierno don’t be fooled by the name - pack lots of sunscreen, a hat and decent shades.

The Xagoaza albergue makes me a bit sad. I’ve read the Gronze reviews that it’s dirty etc but hoped to really like this place. Personally, I appreciate it when the EU spends funds on sustainable rural development of which this albergue should be the posterchild. But alas, the reviews were somewhat correct. Unfortunately the interior really shows a lack of love and care. The structure is outstanding, wide open spaces, lots of showers (fantastic water pressure) and toilets, equipped kitchen, real sheets - what more could you want? But you soon see what the reviews are about. Cobwebs, stuff on the floor, overflowing bin in the kitchen and old stuff in the fridge. The kitchen is in fact pretty dirty (although that’s probably a pilgrim issue) and the washing machine is covered in mold. Most of these things should hopefully easily be fixable by providing cleaning stuff and directions to pilgrims (e.g., empty trash can in xx spot outside, here are mops for the shower stalls, rugs to clean the tables after dinner, etc). On the flipside, the hospitaliera was lovely whenever we chatted on WhatsApp (she didn’t come round that day) and I hope that more pilgrims staying over night might increase her allocated time to take care of this outstanding albergue.

Regardless, we had a fantastic night (just us two and one other peregrina that we’ve seen since Ponferrada) with tasty dinner and a beautiful sunset view. That is to say, yes the reviews are somewhat true but this is an albergue that’s not to be missed. The view and the tranquility made this - even after the gruelling ascent - to one of my favourite albergue experiences on any Camino. My suggestion, walk across the road to the church (closed unfortunately) and sit in the shade of the surrounding trees - this is what „disconnecting“ on the Camino feels like.

Onwards to A Rua tomorrow!


Total km: 25km
Accommodation: Albergue Xagoaza.
Cost & Access: 10€ pP. I messaged the hospitaliera via WhatsApp the day before, door to the albergue was unlocked when we arrived.
Total spend: 28€


Are you heading to the newly opened muni donativo in A Rua? If so, pls say hi to the hospi Maria, from the first peregrina - the English peregrina - who stayed in the albergue on its first night last month :)
 
Day 4: Xagoaza - A Rua

Lazy day along the Sil to A Rua from the Xagoaza albergue. The only really strenuous part is the downhill section to the Camino, the rest is fairly flat. It gets a bit confusing just after O Barco as there are signs for the new Camino through A Proba and the old one through Arcos. We ended up on the Arcos section but joined the main Camino again after 30min.

Walking along the Sil was wonderfully peaceful - flat, good walking surface, lots of shade. Just before A Rua there’s a choice of two Camino alternatives, one along a no-shoulder road and the other slightly longer but safer. With it being a Sunday morning we went for the shorter alternative. No issues there, we saw one car and there was ample space to step out. However, on a busy weekday I’d definitely choose option two.

A Rua itself was a bit of a slog through the city. We arrived way too early to wait for the albergue to open (I know 🥺) so instead we went to Hotel Berna just outside of town. And what a fantastic choice that was! We arrived super early and were welcomed like long-lost family from Joaquin the new owner. The hotel is right on the Camino - the trail runs along its terrace - and its locations shaves almost two km off the next days strenuous walk. After a great lunch (empanadas made in Joaquin’s panaderia, patatas, salad, cutlets, desert, and homemade coffee schnaps) we spend the rest of the day on the terrace overlooking the lake and getting some work done.

Total Km: 16
Accommodation: Hotel Berna
Cost & Access: 60€ for a double room, a gigantic lunch, several soft drinks and breakfast. We send Joaquin a WhatsApp when we arrived at A Rua. He meet us at the hotel straight away.
Total spend: 67€ (7€ for pharmacy visit)
 

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@sun


Are you heading to the newly opened muni donativo in A Rua? If so, pls say hi to the hospi Maria, from the first peregrina - the English peregrina - who stayed in the albergue on its first night last month :)
No unfortunately not, we arrived super early and Max needed to get some online work done. But pilgrims that we meet today stayed there and they were told all about the successful opening and the first pilgrims staying there.
 
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No unfortunately not, we arrived super early and Max needed to get some online work done. But pilgrims that we meet today stayed there and they were told all about the successful opening and the first pilgrims staying there.


Tee hee :)
 
Day 5: A Rua - Quiroga

Ok, so I’m not great with the heat and sun and getting up early is no issue for me. Today we did exaggerate though. Having our own room allowed us to start out as early as we wanted so we were on the road by 5am (I know, we are crazy). Joaquin had left us breakfast (coffee, hot water, sweets and bocadillos to take with us), so with that we left for the uphill walk to Albaredos - which looked pretty bad in the stage profile but turned out much easier than expected.

That meant that we arrived in Albaredo not with sunrise - as planned - but in the pitch black. Let me tell you - that forest with all the artwork is a special kind of creepy in the dark. Made for an interesting walk to the pilgrim refuel station though.

Today was made special by two things: the pilgrim refuel station and the Casemiro’s Ecoloxico station. The fruit, drinks, and nuts - plus the Joaquin’s bocadillos made for a fantastic breakfast later on.

With today’s perfect hiking weather - cloudy but not freezing - we had one of the loveliest days on the Camino yet. So many wildflowers! Nature-wise the Camino de Invierno is a dream. There’s a riot of colours that keep changing behind every turn - from red poppies to these amazing white flowered-shrubs that cover the mountainside to lush green ferns. All of that mixed with fantastic vistas of the Sil.

The day passed fast and easy, despite the warnings how strenuous this stage was. Maybe our bodies are finally getting used to the constant ups and downs. As a treat we decided against the albergue and for another private room. I always feel slightly guilty when I do that but Max still needs to get used to the Camino and sharing dorms. So hotel it was for the night - which turned out to be a great choice.

Hotel Quiper was a dream! They put us into a huge suit on the second floor with fancy furniture and chandeliers - not exactly the kind of accommodation we thought we’d be having during the Camino 😅

A word of caution: lots of restaurants / bars are closed on Monday. So don’t be like us and expect to find anywhere cooking delicious Galician food after a long hike. Luckily the Dia was open - luckily a snack food dinner on our balcony hit the spot just fine.

Total km: 26
Accommodation: Hotel Quiper
Cost & Access: 36€ for a double room. We didn’t book (I forgot the day before) but just walked in and they gave us a room no problem.
Total spend: 62€ (that includes provisions for tomorrow and some money we left at the two refill stations)
 

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Day 1: Ponferrada to Villavieja

As usual, life has a habit of changing plans so we found ourselves on the Invierno a month later than expected. Regardless though, we are happy to finally get started!

Day 1 was a hard one right from the off. We flew into Madrid late yesterday evening and took the night bus to Ponferrada (ALSA bus straight from Madrid T4, arrival in Ponferrada just after 5pm). From the ALSA station it was a quick 1.5km to the “beginning” of the Invierno. Off we went into the dark, following the markers that are - even with head torches - easy to find. We made speedy progress until Toral de Merayo, and by 7:15am it was light enough to start enjoying the scenery. Although the walk in the dark had its charms too, lots of glittering reflections along the trail from plants covered in dew drops.

The trail was dry until the final descent into Toral where it gets muddy for a short steep-ish section. Coming out of Toral was similar, muddy (some building works going on because it looks like heavy machinery dug deep trails in the mud) but nothing that can’t be done.

The rest of the walk was fine. Frequent water fountains, lots of shade, and easy to follow markers. Until that hike up to Villavieja. We’ve been forewarned through forum posts but it was much harder than expected. Nothing undoable but by that time we were seriously tired and hungry. Temps reached 25c by 10:30am which didn’t help.

But it was so worth it! The albergue is a thing of beauty, comfortable, well-equipped, and with a stunning view. And clearly we aren’t the only ones that think so. Currently there are (inkl us two) 8 pilgrims here which is much higher than we expected. The Invierno clearly seems to be gaining in popularity. And given the absolutely beautiful scenery that’s really not a surprise.

I liked the format @Grizzlybero used in their “live on the Primitivo” thread so I’ll try to use something similar. We are on a longer sabbatical so making cost-wise decisions is important and others might be in a similar situation.

Total km: 18
Accommodation: Albergue municipal de Villavieja “Manuel Fuentes”
Cost & Access: 10€ pP - the albergue is not staffed but you can get the access code via phone or email from the local ayuntamiento in advanced
Total spend (two people): 26€ (the albergue has a very well-equipped kitchen, food has to be brought in though from one of the earlier towns)

Plans for tomorrow so far is a very early start towards Las Medulas, breakfast / remote work session, and onwards to Casa Rosa in Puente de Domingo Florez. Most of the others that stay here today have a similar plan. I’ll keep you update how it’s going and thanks for all the pre-Camino advice!!
Thank you for the information you’re posting. I’m about 5 days behind you—I just arrived at Miguel Fuentes this afternoon and it’s everything you described. I got off the Francés because it was starting to get a little crowded and all I hear is that it gets more so the closer you get to Santiago. Your and others descriptions of the Invierno made a very compelling case and I decided to take the plunge. Unlike the Francés where there is an abundance of information plus lots of options, I’m finding very very little info on this route. This is a long way of asking you to keep up your posting on your experience. It is the absolute best source I’ve found—and as a bonus, I too am looking to do this trip on a budget so our perspectives align perfectly. Thanks for all your good info and please continue posting!
 
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Day 6: Quiroga - Pobra de Brollon

I’m slacking a bit on this “live” thread because there’s always just soo much Camino stuff to do in the afternoon. Although the Invierno is certainly much more quiet than other routes there’s still an abundance of stuff to discover in every albergue town.

So let’s go back a couple of days to Quiroga. Feeling fantastically rested we set out to reach Pobra de Brollon some 20-odd km away. Despite the road walking we were in high spirits - the wonders that a decent night rest can do. Well, until just outside Nocedo. Being forwarded through @Simperegrina ’s live thread we (tried to) take the alternative path along the caretera to avoid an early morning dog encounter. No such luck though as a huge dog came chasing out at us from the building opposite of the bus stop. Ok, so let’s try the way through the village then. Just as we finished the downhill section we were greeted with more growling and barking. And that dog really wasn’t going to let us walk past. Great, so it’s back uphill and another try with Cujo 1. Followed by lots and lots of barking we passed by as close as possible to the house on the left. Mood = 😵‍💫

The rest of the walk was at time breathtakingly beautiful, at times endlessly dull (the long sections walking on asphalt). But the higher up we went the better the views got. We had breakfast up at the Hermitage (locked unfortunately) and continued on towards Pobra de Brollon. The trail is easy to follow but there’s not a lot of shade. Still, a beautiful stage that ended at the fantastic new municipal albergue. The albergue has everything that you need, comply beds, a nice common area and a fully equipped kitchen (minus stove top). We carried provisions from Quiroga and had a fantastic meal of assorted microwaved tins and fresh salad. We did check out the shop in town but the selection there is limited, it’s expensive and the shop keeper tried to overcharge me significantly. So yeah, either bring stuff from Quiroga or eat some of the microwave meals available at the albergue for absolutely fair prices.

Total km: ?? My dedicated GPS-half is having a nap as I write this but I’m guessing 22km
Accommodation: Albergue Pobra de Brollon
Cost & Access: 13.5€ pP. Hospitaliera (Ana, absolutely lovely person) came to check us in after we sent here a WhatsApp that we are there. Rest is via a door code
Total spend: 32€
People in albergue: 7
 

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And I read that you can also buy wine in the Pobre de Brollon albergue / from the hospi, which seems very civilised
 
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I’m doing well with the heat. It actually feels pleasant for me but then again I’ve been wearing a puffer jacket since starting in SJPDP in March.

I love your format (I know you adopted it from another poster). It’s organised in exactly the way my brain works.

I’m slightly nervous about food. I passed the little store by the bridge (was it Merayo?) an hour before it opened because I was using info from a website that indicated that I would hit some bars/stores before Miguel Fuentes. I didn’t find anything open. In fact at least one of the referenced bars was permanently closed and for sale.

So…I’m reading your posts especially closely for food opportunities.

In a perfect world I would be more prepared for the Winter route and I would have a guide book. One of my Camino goals is to be more flexible so making a mid-course correction and switching from Francés to Invierno fit into that. That doesn’t change the fact that I’m forced to pull info from multiple, thin sources but your posts have been a real serendipitous find. Thank you for all the work you’re putting into it.
 
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I’m doing well with the heat. It actually feels pleasant for me but then again I’ve been wearing a puffer jacket since starting in SJPDP in March.

I love your format (I know you adopted it from another poster). It’s organised in exactly the way my brain works.

I’m slightly nervous about food. I passed the little store by the bridge (was it Merayo?) an hour before it opened because I was using info from a website that indicated that I would hit some bars/stores before Miguel Fuentes. I didn’t find anything open. In fact at least one of the referenced bars was permanently closed and for sale.

So…I’m reading your posts especially closely for food opportunities.

In a perfect world I would be more prepared for the Winter route and I would have a guide book. One of my Camino goals is to be more flexible so making a mid-course correction and switching from Francés to Invierno fit into that. That doesn’t change the fact that I’m forced to pull info from multiple, thin sources but your posts have been a real serendipitous find. Thank you for all the work you’re putting into it.


Toral de Merayo?

Kurt, where are you now? Are you using the Wise Pilgrim and Buen Camino apps? There’s also Invierno guide put together by a number of illustrious members of this forum and a resource here on the forum
 
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Sorry didn’t read your entire question.
I’m a fan of the Buen Camino app. I haven’t warmed to WP. And I’ve been exploring this forum and finding good stuff.
 
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Laying on a very comfortable couch in the Manuel Fuentes hostel in Villavieja. 👍🏻

It IS comfortable :)

Ok, so tomorrow you’re heading to Las Medulas and/or Puente de Domingo Flórez? You’ll be able to get food in both. When I passed through Las Médulas last month, I had lunch there in a restaurant, didn’t see anything in the way of a shop open. But that was pre-Easter, after which more things open up. You’ll have no problem in PDF - supermarkets and bar restaurants.

The day after will presumable be to O Barco - again, lots of supermarkets and bar restaurants, and Sobradelo (even if only 1 bar is open) on the way to O Barco.

Be thinking ahead to Sunday…

I always made sure I had packets of cheese and salami, bread, some fruit, chocolate and a tin of tuna in my pack…
 
that forest with all the artwork is a special kind of creepy in the dark
Ooooo. It was plenty creepy already in mid-morning. I can only imagine those eyes emerging out of darkness. 😱

In a perfect world I would be more prepared for the Winter route and I would have a guide book
Check in Borrenes at Casa Marisol - I got one there - it was plenty along with the online Forum guide @Theatregal mentioned.

Wonderful memories, thank you for posting @sun is shining . May it continue to shine for you!! Buen camino from Santiago!
 
Day 7: Pobra de Brollon - Monforte de Lemos

Today was meant to be an easy stroll to Monforte - 12km, straightforward and flat walk, nothing to get your heartbeat up. Or so we thought. Just after the peregrino sello station in Rairos loud barking started. A not particularly friendly dog was guarding the road through town and Cujo really wasn’t going to let us walk past him. We called out a couple of times for a possible owner but nobody reacted.

A quick look at Google Maps showed us a potential workaround with a short walk along the main road and a path leading back onto the Camino a bit further from Rairos. Please don’t try to be cute like us and try this though. Our “short” stint saw us climbing over fallen trees and scramble up a particularly steep section of forest before emerging - muddy, covered in vegetation, and rather sweaty - back on the Camino. That much for an easy relaxing day.

The rest was straight sailing from here onwards to Monforte. We stayed at albergue Lemavo and so should you! It’s a fantastic place run by incredibly caring people. We felt right at home there and Begonia and her family took care of any issue we came up with. Highly recommended and the best - there are lots of storks nesting just outside their house.

Total km: 14km
Accommodation: Albergue Lemavo
Cost & Access: 14€ pP
Total spend: 72€ (inkl provisions for tomorrow and a pharmacy visit)
People in Albergue: 10
 
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
It IS comfortable :)

Ok, so tomorrow you’re heading to Las Medulas and/or Puente de Domingo Flórez? You’ll be able to get food in both. When I passed through Las Médulas last month, I had lunch there in a restaurant, didn’t see anything in the way of a shop open. But that was pre-Easter, after which more things open up. You’ll have no problem in PDF - supermarkets and bar restaurants.

The day after will presumable be to O Barco - again, lots of supermarkets and bar restaurants, and Sobradelo (even if only 1 bar is open) on the way to O Barco.

Be thinking ahead to Sunday…

I always made sure I had packets of cheese and salami, bread, some fruit, chocolate and a tin of tuna in my pack…
Yes I’ll be at Casa Rosa in PDF
Thanks for the reassurance about the food in both places. I have been enjoying my trip so much that I don’t keep track of the days. (Which has led to my needing to scrounge and get creative on TWO Sundays! You’d think I’d learn.
 
Ooooo. It was plenty creepy already in mid-morning. I can only imagine those eyes emerging out of darkness. 😱


Check in Borrenes at Casa Marisol - I got one there - it was plenty along with the online Forum guide @Theatregal mentioned.

Wonderful memories, thank you for posting @sun is shining . May it continue to shine for you!! Buen camino from Santiago!
Thanks! I checked in Ponferrsda and came up empty. I’ll check Borrenes.
 
Yes I’ll be at Casa Rosa in PDF
Thanks for the reassurance about the food in both places. I have been enjoying my trip so much that I don’t keep track of the days. (Which has led to my needing to scrounge and get creative on TWO Sundays! You’d think I’d learn.
Humans - we can be REALLY rubbish at learning :)
 
New Original Camino Gear Designed Especially with The Modern Peregrino In Mind!
Catching up and enjoying your posts and lovely photos @sun is shining ! Always happy to revisit memories of this beautiful camino.
It really is an outstandingly beautiful Camino. I’m writing this as I’m currently laying outside in the grass in front of the equally beautiful Diamondi Albergue. I could happily stay here for weeks and not miss a thing!
 

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Very light, comfortable and compressible poncho. Specially designed for protection against water for any activity.

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,-
I’m currently laying outside in the grass in front of the equally beautiful Diamondi Albergue. I could happily stay here for weeks and not miss a thing!
OMG. Wonderfull. Lucky you, @sun is shining! It was not an albergue when many of us went through. Is it possible to take (and post, natch!) photos of the inside of the church?
 
OMG. Wonderfull. Lucky you, @sun is shining! It was not an albergue when many of us went through. Is it possible to take (and post, natch!) photos of the inside of the church?
You need to stay here next time you are on the Invierno - it’s a very special place. Here’s a quick picture of the inside of the church. I’ll post more tomorrow.
 

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Ideal pocket guides for during & after your Camino. Each weighs only 1.4 oz (40g)!
Day 8: Monforte - Diamondi

The only downside of staying at the fantastic Lemavo Albergue is the long slog through Monforte in the morning. We had another early start because - you guessed it - Max had another meeting coming up. The first part goes along the main road again, there’s an alternative given in the Buon Camino app but apparently that area gets waterlogged easily. So road it was. The views are lovely but this stage really starts to shine once you pass San Lourenzo - fantastic paths through lush nature with outstanding views over the entire area. And then you’ll emerge to one of the nicest rest areas I’ve seen so far on the Camino! At Pineiro you’ll find a fountain, benches and a Kneip-pool (shallow pool filled with ice cold water to refresh your feet).

Parts of the trail after Pineiro were very muddy today - good fun and a nice diversion from all the asphalt walking. And the views kept getting better and better. Definitely don’t miss out on the viewpoint “Cabo do Mundo II“ - it’s 400m off the Camino but very much worth the de-tour.

From here I was starting to really regret my life choices 😅 the last 5km on asphalt were hard. In general I find that the Invierno has a surprisingly high percentage of asphalt walking. Definitely something to consider as far as shoe choices go.

But it was all so with it! Diamondi Albergue is a very special place. The converted home of a bishop it lets you feel the many centuries that have passed since its construction. On the pragmatic side, all facilities needed are there: comfy beds (disposable sheets, no blankets), lots of small rooms for extra privacy. Toilets on both floors, showers on the ground floor (hot and great pressure). There are two kitchens with microwaves and stove tops - but not a single plate, nor any cutlery (and of course no pans and pots) around. Luckily we were prepared and managed a fantastic meal of microwave tortilla and salad. But you do need to come prepared and do all your shopping in Monforte.

Outside there’s a large grassy area to relax and a washing area (washers, dryers and handwashing stations) next to it. Standard prices for machine use (3€ each).

The highlight is definitely the church. It’s already impressive from the outside but the insight is magnificent. Rosa the hospitaliera gave us a tour and showed us around. It’s an “active” church and there’s mass every Sunday. I bet that’s a real experience. Again, you feel the centuries here. The baptismal font is over a millennium old. Just imagine this. There’s lots to discover in the church and you can really take your time to look into all nooks and crannies. Bring some coins if you want to light a candle.

This was the one accommodation I really wanted to stay in and I’m glad that we tailored our plans accordingly. It works out fine with our Vilaseco stop tomorrow in terms of distance walked.

Total km: 25km
Accommodation: Diamondi municipal Albergue in Montecelo
Cost and Access: 10€ pP. Opens at 1pm. Great facilities but absolutely nothing to prepare food with in terms of plates or cutlery. There’s a microwave, stove tops and a fridge. No blankets available but the old stone building didn’t get cold at night. A complete dream of an albergue.
Total spend: 25€ (there was nowhere to spend money today, the extra 5€ were for lighting a candle in the church)
People in Albergue:6
 
Please continue to post - I am totally addicted to your posts. I arrive in Ponferrada on May 29 and start the Invierno on the 31st. Your posts have me so looking forward to my next Camino. This will be my third Camino. Last year, my daughter and I completed the Frances and really wanted to avoid the Sarria to Santiago portion by switching to the Invierno. We decided to continue through Sarria but always thought about the Invierno. So this year I'm walking the Invierno solo and so looking forward to it. To date, I had already planned to stay in places you have but you have also brought some new choices I am looking at. The information you are providing about provisions and availability of provisions is invaluable. Please keep posting and many thanks to you !
 
Ideal pocket guides for during & after your Camino. Each weighs only 1.4 oz (40g)!
Invierno experts - can anyone suggest a restaurant / bar in Lalin for some tasty Spanish food? Preferably casual and not too expensive. The people we’ve been walking with for the last couple of days are breaking up tomorrow and we would love a nice farewell dinner 🥘🫒🦪
 
Day 9: Diamondi - Pansanillas (Hotel Vilaseco)

Great nights rest at Diamondi. The albergue has a fantastic layout so all of us had their own areas for themselves. The radiators kept the cold out pretty well too. Still, I’d bring an actual sleeping bag if you are staying here very late / early in the year. There are no blankets available.

Plan for today is a brisk walk to Chantada for breakfast / Zoom work session, followed by another 7-odd km to Hotel Vilaseco. Given the sharp decent and ascent just after Chantada this option seems like the best choice to avoid a long day over Mount Faro.

And what a good choice it was. Watching the sunrise over the steep vineyards was a treat! Yes, it’s steep - and I’m very grateful for having my hiking poles with me - but the landscape is a dream. Very different from the first few stages. Gone are the wildflowers painting the scenery with a riot of colours. But in their place is now lush green vegetation. Fantastic! Everything looks so fresh and healthy - and the temperatures are much more hiking friendly. Lots of water too - the path was very wet / muddy in parts. Good fun but poles definitely help to not slip.

We found a nice little bar in Chantada (la cerveceria) for the scheduled Zoom meeting, which was a perfect excuse for a very ample and extended breakfast. Afterwards a quick trip to the pharmacy and off we went towards Vilaseco. The talk is that they serve a fantastic Menu so this is added motivation for the last 7km.

Vilaseco was a fantastic stage end. The walk out off Chantada is not super strenuous but doing it the day before certainly helps with the hard Mount Faro day tomorrow. The hotel is situated in the middle of green fields, no other buildings or noise makers around. With 20€ a bed it’s not cheap cheap but well worth it for the relaxing environment it provides. There are ample areas to sit around in lounge chairs and talk the afternoon away. These outside sitting areas aren’t a standard feature of many Albergue so today felt like a mini-holiday. Add to this that food - that was indeed super tasty - and you got yourself a very relaxing stage end. It’s perfect for the combination Diamondi - Vilaseco - Rodeiro.

Manuel - the owner - is a character that might seem a bit abrupt at first but warms quickly. He’s very knowledgeable about the area, its culture and traditions, so do seek him out for a chat. Single and double rooms are also available but they come with a price.

Total km: 17km
Accommodation: Hotel Vilaseco
Cost & Access: 20€ pP in a pilgrim dorm. Single beds, no bunks. Very comfortable and you get real sheets and towels. We let them know a couple of days ahead that we were coming via WhatsApp. There’s no kitchen but food at the hotel is well-priced and delicious. Menu del dia cost 15€.
Total spend: 96€ (inkl breakfast in Chantada, pharmacy, menu del dia and a fair few drinks in Vilaseco)
People in albergue: 7
 

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The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Day 10: Vilaseco - Rodeiro

Today was a hard day. While the hike up to Mount Faro is absolutely doable (and well worth it), the rest of the way to Rodeiro is long. We hit over 30c by lunchtime and there’s not much shade to be had. My suggestion is an early start out of Vilaseco to allow you enough time to enjoy the views from the top.

The trail goes semi-steep upwards but nothing like the hike up to Chantada from yesterday. There’s a fantastic rest area about half way up with benches / tables and a fountain (close to the memorial). It took us just over two hours to reach the top of Mount Faro including one extended breakfast break. The views all over Galicia are great so so plan some time to enjoy this before moving on.

The rest of the trail is easy walking but there’s hardly any shade and no facilities to break the walk. The one bar in Rio was of course closed when we walked past it.

Dying of thirst we arrived in Rodeiro where all of us are staying in Hostel Carpinteiras. Max and me sprung for a private room after the long and exhausting day today. The good thing is though that we can use the common areas of the albergue section to cook dinner with our Camino friends. The kitchen is fully stocked with everything you might need to prepare a pretty decent meal. We had pasta with zucchini chorizo sauce and a huge mixed salad.

There are supermarkets in town so you don’t have to carry any provisions (as long as you don’t arrive on a Sunday). Apparently there are a few options to eat out as well but we fancied a night in with an early retirement to bed.

Total km: 22
Accommodation: Hostal Carpinteiras
Cost & Access: 44€ Double room, 13€ bed in Albergue section. The attached bar is open all day, just go in there for check-in. The rest works via door codes.
Total spend: 52€
People in albergue: 11
 

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Very light, comfortable and compressible poncho. Specially designed for protection against water for any activity.

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,-
Thanks for the Diamondi pics, @sun is shining - Wow!


No help from me, because I ate pizza. But it was very nice...
Have a look at this picture here from the Diamondi church. It’s a Virgen standing on top of a snake. The hospitaliera explained that this is a very uncommon depiction of a Virgin but things that it pertains to Mary being all innocent and therefore above the temptation of Eve. My religious knowledge isn’t particularly deep but I found these various themes in the church very moving.
 

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@KAD309 what stages do you have planned so far?
Hi there,
Hope you had a fabulous Day 11 ! Here is what I have planned so far:

Day 1: Ponferrada to Villavieja
Day 2: Villavieja to Puente de Domingo Flores
Day 3: Puente to Villarmartin
Day 4: Villamartin to Soldon Fonte
Day 5: Soldon Fonte to A Ponte Barxadelor
Day 6: A Ponte Barxadelor to Monforte
Day 7: Monforte to Diamonde
Day 8: Diamonde to Chantanda
Day 9: Chantanda to Rodeiro
Day 10: Rodeiro to Lalin
Day 11: Latin to Bandeira or Dornelas
Day 12: Bandeira or Dornelas to Outeiro
Day 13: Outeiro to Santiago

I very much liked your description of your Day 9 with a stay in Pansanillas - I had a ? beside this but now with your review I think I would like to stay at the Hotel Vilaseco. I have not worked in a rest day since I'm only doing 2.5 weeks but I do have some short stages. After doing the Frances last year and feeling rushed much of the time - this year I want to take my time and enjoy the journey

Have a fabulous day !
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
Hi there,
Hope you had a fabulous Day 11 ! Here is what I have planned so far:

Day 1: Ponferrada to Villavieja
Day 2: Villavieja to Puente de Domingo Flores
Day 3: Puente to Villarmartin
Day 4: Villamartin to Soldon Fonte
Day 5: Soldon Fonte to A Ponte Barxadelor
Day 6: A Ponte Barxadelor to Monforte
Day 7: Monforte to Diamonde
Day 8: Diamonde to Chantanda
Day 9: Chantanda to Rodeiro
Day 10: Rodeiro to Lalin
Day 11: Latin to Bandeira or Dornelas
Day 12: Bandeira or Dornelas to Outeiro
Day 13: Outeiro to Santiago

I very much liked your description of your Day 9 with a stay in Pansanillas - I had a ? beside this but now with your review I think I would like to stay at the Hotel Vilaseco. I have not worked in a rest day since I'm only doing 2.5 weeks but I do have some short stages. After doing the Frances last year and feeling rushed much of the time - this year I want to take my time and enjoy the journey

Have a fabulous day !
Im sorry for the late reply - we made it to Santiago but I got sick during the last couple of days. I’ll try to finish the series as soon as the fever gets better.

Your stages look great but I’d have a couple of quick suggestions:

Diamondi to Chantada is a very short day and I didn’t find Chantada that interesting (but I’m generally not a city person). So yes, extending that day to Vilaseco would make sense and shorten the very long Chantada to Rodeiro stage over Mount Faro.

Rodeiro to Lalin is easily doable. After Lalin we had a short day to Silleda and stayed in the lovely Santa Olaia Albergue. They have a nice garden to relax in if you need a bit of a break. Friends stayed in Bandeira and didn’t like it too much. If you are feeling up for a long-ish day then Silleda to Albergue Raina Lupa just 11km shy of Santiago might also be an option.

Regardless, the Invierno is truely beautiful and you’ll have a fantastic time!
 
Im sorry for the late reply - we made it to Santiago but I got sick during the last couple of days. I’ll try to finish the series as soon as the fever gets better.

Your stages look great but I’d have a couple of quick suggestions:

Diamondi to Chantada is a very short day and I didn’t find Chantada that interesting (but I’m generally not a city person). So yes, extending that day to Vilaseco would make sense and shorten the very long Chantada to Rodeiro stage over Mount Faro.

Rodeiro to Lalin is easily doable. After Lalin we had a short day to Silleda and stayed in the lovely Santa Olaia Albergue. They have a nice garden to relax in if you need a bit of a break. Friends stayed in Bandeira and didn’t like it too much. If you are feeling up for a long-ish day then Silleda to Albergue Raina Lupa just 11km shy of Santiago might also be an option.

Regardless, the Invierno is truely beautiful and you’ll have a fantastic time!
Hope you feel better soon.
 
Thanks for your suggestions - much appreciated ! I hope you feel better soon or are already - take care !
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Day 11: Rodeiro to Lalin

Stilled holed up in Leon with a pretty persistent tonsillitis but at least I have a chance to catch up with the final Invierno stages.

Ok night at Carpinteiras followed by an easy walk to Lalin. Today was pretty flat and the walking was done either on the road or on more comfortable forest trails. While the landscape is now much less “dramatic” than before it was not any less beautiful. Lots of water, green fields, and the frequent chance to chat to people working on said fields. Except when you need them! Instead of the usual Invierno Dog Watch you’ll find the first instalment of the Invierno Cow watch here.

In Eirexe our path was blocked by two gigantic bulls (or semi-docile cows depending on who you ask) that made it very loud and clear that we weren’t getting through there anytime soon. No one was in sight or reacted to our shouts for assistance so we backtrekked a bit (followed by the Cujo cows) to re-group. Luckily our walking buddy Agnes turned up - and this tiny 75 year old Hungarian woman wasn’t having any of it! She (with us in tow) marched past the cows because “this might be her last Camino and nothing will stop her”. Pride was lost that morning 😅

In Lalin we stayed at Albergue Centro - it’s an ok place to stay but has a bit more of a hostal than a pilgrim albergue feel. Still, beds are comfy, there’s place for washing and drying laundry, and a small kitchen area. The highlight of Lalin is certainly Daniel of the Asociación Peregrinus Dezae - his office is right next to the Centro Hostel and certainly not to be missed. Daniel not only created a beautiful stamp in our Credencial but also spent a couple of hours with us talking about the Camino, it’s past and his predictions for its future.

For dinner we had the (expensive but worth it) pizza Pulpo alla Feira which apparently won “best pizza in Galicia” last year.


Total km: 23.5

Accommodation: Hostel Centro, 15€ pP (apparently you get real sheets and a towel if you pay 18€). I contacted the staff via WhatsApp and they met us at the Pizzeria El Gato Negro.

Pilgrims in albergue: 10

Total spend: ~ 80€
 

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Day 12: Lalin to Silleda

Short day today from Lalin to Silleda. Leaving Lalin must be one of the nicest trails leaving a larger town on the whole camino - wide comfortable trails through a very well kept park. Until you hit the industrial outskirts but even here the trail isn’t too bad. Not much to report about the rest of the walk, easy and perfect for a “rest day”.

Silleda itself was a very positive surprise. Online reviews about the albergue Santa Olaia and the town itself were somewhat mixed but we very much enjoyed our stay here! The albergue has a fantastic garden perfect for relaxing and the hospitaliera is a star! Ester is one of those people that make the Camino to “the Camino”. We arrived ridiculously early hoping to leave our bags at the albergue before finding a place for breakfast but Ester wasn’t having any of it and got us set up in our room straightaway. This was followed by a wealth of information about the town (shopping, eating) and the surrounding area (walk to a monesterio or a really beautiful waterfall). To be honest, this albergue touched something in me - all accommodations we stayed in so far were fantastic and pretty luxurious compared to the more simple albergues I was used to. Which is nice of course but here I felt for the first time that feeling of times gone by with large re-purposed buildings used to house pilgrims on their way to Santiago. Yes, the building is older and yes, you can see that. But it provides a pilgrim with anything they might need - small rooms (every group had their own room that night), hot showers, free washers and a completely equipped kitchen to prepare your meals. Plus that beautiful garden!

All in all this Santa Olaia was my favourite albergue on the Invierno. Not the most comfortable (but certainly comfortable enough!) or new, but the one that gave me the most “pilgrim albergue” feeling.

Total km: 16

Accommodation: Albergue Santa Olaia, 10€ pP

Pilgrims at albergue: 9 (6 of which came from the Via de la Plata)

Total spend: 87€ (we had to top up on toiletries, sunscreen etc and bought provisions for tomorrow. Plus we found a Panaderia that made outstanding Empanadas 😅)
 

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Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

€83,-
Day 13: Silleda to Deseiro

Last challenge before reaching Santiago - the descent and subsequent ascent of Ponte Ulla. Thanks to the fantastic rest at Santa Olaia and the interesting talks with our new Camino buddy Uli we didn’t struggle even remotely as much as anticipated. In fact, we felt good enough to walk past our initial goal of Outeiro to the fantastic private albergue Raina Lupa in Deseiro. Maybe it was the magic pull of Santiago that melted the kilometres away but this day was easy going (although it was a lot of asphalt walking again).

Staying at Raina Lupa was fine - Carmen the hospitaliera is a lovely person that takes care of pilgrims like they are her children. We were well fed in the evening (but there’s also a small kitchen if you prefer to cook) and could rest well before the last 12km to Santiago.

Total km: 33.7

Accommodation: Albergue Raina Lupa. 18€ pP, 15€ dinner in the evening. Food was fantastic and plentiful!

Pilgrims at albergue: 8

Total spend: 66€
 

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Day 14: Santiago!

The last 12km into Santiago seemed to pass in an instant. And there it was - the cathedral. The Camino the Invierno has treated us to fantastic views, outstanding nature and numerous encounters with some of the nicest people you can imagine.

Although there has been a fair bit (maybe too much) of asphalt walking we are very grateful that we experienced this Camino before it will inevitably explode in popularity. Pretty much all accommodation owners expect a similar trajectory to the Camino Portuguese because of the comparable hallmarks: walkable in two weeks (perfect for holidays), great nature, not “the Frances”, great albergue infrastructure.

All in all it was an easy-ish Camino. The stages are very adjustable in terms of length and - although there are quite a few ups and downs - there’s not a lot of challenging terrain to overcome. Our biggest “enemy” was the relentless heat but that seemed to be an exception rather than normal during April / May in this region. Still, if you were to walk the Invierno in summer do account for some long stretches of shadeless asphalt walking. Which brings me to the one and only negative thing I can say about this Camino: the asphalt walking. Choose your shoes wisely - I very much regretted our choice of hard soles. Trail runners with ample cushioning are definitely the better choice.

My personal favourite was the conversations with hospitalieros and hospitalieras along the way. These long chats made the countless hours of Spanish learning worth it. You can feel a deep passion for the Camino - even from people that haven’t yet walked it. Hopes are high that the Invierno will bring more sustainable tourism to the region but there seems to be an almost universal fear that the Invierno might develop into something like the Frances.

Spanish helps here. Even if you just manage to learn the basics, you pass some regions that are very much unused to international tourism. We met hardly any English speakers while walking and the lingua franca between pilgrims was either German, Spanish or French. Most people we met were from mainland Europe with one notable exception of our Canadian walking buddy. In terms of pilgrim experience we divided fairly evenly into two groups: those that have already walked many Caminos and now looked for paths less traveled and first-timers that benefitted from the two-week timeline of the Invierno.

And with this, a huge thank you to everyone here on the forum who answered countless questions, wrote trip reports and thus helped us in making this wonderful Camino a reality ❤️
 

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Very light, comfortable and compressible poncho. Specially designed for protection against water for any activity.

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,-
Day 14: Santiago!

The last 12km into Santiago seemed to pass in an instant. And there it was - the cathedral. The Camino the Invierno has treated us to fantastic views, outstanding nature and numerous encounters with some of the nicest people you can imagine.

Although there has been a fair bit (maybe too much) of asphalt walking we are very grateful that we experienced this Camino before it will inevitably explode in popularity. Pretty much all accommodation owners expect a similar trajectory to the Camino Portuguese because of the comparable hallmarks: walkable in two weeks (perfect for holidays), great nature, not “the Frances”, great albergue infrastructure.

All in all it was an easy-ish Camino. The stages are very adjustable in terms of length and - although there are quite a few ups and downs - there’s not a lot of challenging terrain to overcome. Our biggest “enemy” was the relentless heat but that seemed to be an exception rather than normal during April / May in this region. Still, if you were to walk the Invierno in summer do account for some long stretches of shadeless asphalt walking. Which brings me to the one and only negative thing I can say about this Camino: the asphalt walking. Choose your shoes wisely - I very much regretted our choice of hard soles. Trail runners with ample cushioning are definitely the better choice.

My personal favourite was the conversations with hospitalieros and hospitalieras along the way. These long chats made the countless hours of Spanish learning worth it. You can feel a deep passion for the Camino - even from people that haven’t yet walked it. Hopes are high that the Invierno will bring more sustainable tourism to the region but there seems to be an almost universal fear that the Invierno might develop into something like the Frances.

Spanish helps here. Even if you just manage to learn the basics, you pass some regions that are very much unused to international tourism. We met hardly any English speakers while walking and the lingua franca between pilgrims was either German, Spanish or French. Most people we met were from mainland Europe with one notable exception of our Canadian walking buddy. In terms of pilgrim experience we divided fairly evenly into two groups: those that have already walked many Caminos and now looked for paths less traveled and first-timers that benefitted from the two-week timeline of the Invierno.

And with this, a huge thank you to everyone here on the forum who answered countless questions, wrote trip reports and thus helped us in making this wonderful Camino a reality ❤️
Thank you so much for all of your postings - it has made me look so much forward to my upcoming Invierno in three weeks. Your information and recommendations are invaluable. Hopefully not too many cows will block my path - dogs I'm not so much afraid of - but cows are a different story !!

I hope your tonsillitis gets better soon - I had one as well on the Frances last year - not much fun !

Again, thank you for taking the time to post and safe travels home.
 
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there seems to be an almost universal fear that the Invierno might develop into something like the Frances.
May it not be so.
But there's definitely an uptick in Francés pilgrims saying here that they intend to take the Invierno after Ponferrada - even first-timers.

Not so long ago it was only something the wild-eyed amongst us were considering. There were no apps or guide books (other than the one @peregrina2000 put together), there were few albergues, and pilgrims were sometimes warned against walking it by people in Ponferrada who were saying it was dangerous. The perception of the Invierno now is noticeably different.
 
Let’s see. The number of long stretches with no pilgrim support, won’t be for everyone…though I appreciate the demand factor that can drive change…

(*crosses fingers*)
 
Let’s see. The number of long stretches with no pilgrim support, won’t be for everyone…though I appreciate the demand factor that can drive change…

(*crosses fingers*)
Yeah. The imminent explosion of pilgrim numbers on the Invierno has been a topic here for years, and it hasn't happened yet.

But things do feel different now, so I'm holding my breath, expecting exponential growth sooner rather than later. (I tend to expect the worst, so it may be just that...who knows.)
 
Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.

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Yeah. The imminent explosion of pilgrim numbers on the Invierno has been a topic here for years, and it hasn't happened yet.
I forgot the exact numbers but Daniel in Lalin showed me the statistics for the last few years (comparing with the Sanabres) and the Invierno had more people this year for the first time ever. Lots of newcomers too - he said their reasons were a mix between “not as busy as the Frances” and “two weeks are ideal for holidays”.
 
Day 14: Santiago!

The last 12km into Santiago seemed to pass in an instant. And there it was - the cathedral. The Camino the Invierno has treated us to fantastic views, outstanding nature and numerous encounters with some of the nicest people you can imagine.

Although there has been a fair bit (maybe too much) of asphalt walking we are very grateful that we experienced this Camino before it will inevitably explode in popularity. Pretty much all accommodation owners expect a similar trajectory to the Camino Portuguese because of the comparable hallmarks: walkable in two weeks (perfect for holidays), great nature, not “the Frances”, great albergue infrastructure.

All in all it was an easy-ish Camino. The stages are very adjustable in terms of length and - although there are quite a few ups and downs - there’s not a lot of challenging terrain to overcome. Our biggest “enemy” was the relentless heat but that seemed to be an exception rather than normal during April / May in this region. Still, if you were to walk the Invierno in summer do account for some long stretches of shadeless asphalt walking. Which brings me to the one and only negative thing I can say about this Camino: the asphalt walking. Choose your shoes wisely - I very much regretted our choice of hard soles. Trail runners with ample cushioning are definitely the better choice.

My personal favourite was the conversations with hospitalieros and hospitalieras along the way. These long chats made the countless hours of Spanish learning worth it. You can feel a deep passion for the Camino - even from people that haven’t yet walked it. Hopes are high that the Invierno will bring more sustainable tourism to the region but there seems to be an almost universal fear that the Invierno might develop into something like the Frances.

Spanish helps here. Even if you just manage to learn the basics, you pass some regions that are very much unused to international tourism. We met hardly any English speakers while walking and the lingua franca between pilgrims was either German, Spanish or French. Most people we met were from mainland Europe with one notable exception of our Canadian walking buddy. In terms of pilgrim experience we divided fairly evenly into two groups: those that have already walked many Caminos and now looked for paths less traveled and first-timers that benefitted from the two-week timeline of the Invierno.

And with this, a huge thank you to everyone here on the forum who answered countless questions, wrote trip reports and thus helped us in making this wonderful Camino a reality ❤️
Thank you for sharing your experience. I am looking forward to this route next spring, so this is most helpful.
 
This thread has been a wonderful inspiration for me. I have decided that the two caminos which I really want to walk again are the Aragones and the Invierno. Health issues and an invitation to a family wedding have stopped me from going on camino this year. But I have hopes for next year, although I am not getting any younger. Maybe I should try to forget my age and just meditate on the memories, until I find myself scrabbling my gear together and buying an air ticket.
I recently heard on the local news that Spain has been enduring very hot weather, beyond what is expected. I may decide to travel out of season and hope for time alone without extreme heat (or relentless rain). My last camino ended with more than a month of daily rain, so I am reluctant to risk that again. Still, I hope to be able to walk the Aragones and the Invierno again in the next few years. And "Buen camino" to all.
P.S.: I just noticed that this thread was begun on April 11, my 76th birthday: A good sign?
 
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This thread has been a wonderful inspiration for me.
Climate change is unfortunately wrecking havoc in Europe with random heatwaves and a lot of rain. While I get that rain isn’t great for tourism it is fantastic for the environment. It rained pretty much all summer in Germany last year and our groundwater reserves still never filled up more than 60% of the ideal.

All that to say that unfortunately European travel has lost its predictably in terms of weather. During my Invierno I longed for clouds and now I’m wishing for some warmth on the Salvador 😅 We also met some pilgrims coming up from the Via de la Plata that have walked for two weeks in torrential rain.

So late spring might be quite a good option for you. You might not avoid the rain but at least it should be warm-ish. Hopefully you find the chance to come back to Spain!
 
I forgot the exact numbers but Daniel in Lalin showed me the statistics for the last few years (comparing with the Sanabres) and the Invierno had more people this year for the first time ever. Lots of newcomers too - he said their reasons were a mix between “not as busy as the Frances” and “two weeks are ideal for holidays”.
Yes, I'm not surprised.
That's the vibe here too.
Selfishly wishing it never catches on, but it seems like it already has.
 
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