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Camino Etiquette

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Perhaps we need to be pro-active about eitquette on the camino? If our members can add to this list of Camino Etiiquette, I will forward it on to the Camino Associations and post it on the other Forums.

•Learn the language before you go – especially the ‘polite’ words of greeting, please and thank you. You will be a guest in a foreign land so don’t expect them to know your language.
•YOU are the foreigner so do not criticize the people, their way of life, their towns, their food, their religion etc. “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” James A. Michener
•A bed in a church or municipal refuge is a privilege not a right and should be treated as such. Give a generous donation; be gracious and helpful to the hospitalero and other pilgrims.
•Keep your space tidy – do not leave plaster papers, plastic bottles, tissues and such on or under your bed.
•Ditto for the kitchen – wash all utensils after use and leave it clean and tidy for the next person.
•Help to keep the refuge clean and welcoming for the next influx of pilgrims.
•Use water sparingly and mop out the shower after using it.
•If you prefer an early start – DO NOT wake up your fellow pilgrims by switching on the light or rustling plastic packets. Carry your stuff out of the room and get ready somewhere else.
•Do not walk into a café/bar and use the facilities without buying something.
•Do NOT litter! Carry your empty bottles, sweet papers etc until you can throw them in a bin.
•If you need to “go in the bushes” bury the result, put the tissue paper in a plastic bag and place in the next rubbish bin.
•Do not handle fresh produce in a shop, get the shop-keepers attention and simply point at the item, handling produce causes bruising and damaged items
•Do NOT pick the farmers crop! Fruit hanging on tree on a verge might be the owner’s next bottle of jam or preserve.
•Leave the wild flowers alone, do not pick them. They look better in the field than in your hat.
•When you're walking in the woods and you see a backpack lying on the side of the road with no owner in sight, keep your eyes straight forward
 
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lckgj

Active Member
Well said Sil!

I have been shocked at the number of pilgrims who try to stay only in the albergues which accept a donation rather than have a set charge in order that they can stay for free. Whilst I realise that some people are operating on a very tight budget, I dont see these people offering to help with the cleaning in order to compensate for the lack of a financial contribution.

One young Australian boy I saw along the route regularly filled his backpack with anything that was left out for passing pilgrims rather than take a little and leave the rest for the next person. This included the jam and biscuits that are sometimes offered for breakfast in the albergues.I walked for 3 days with a Spanish girl who 'borrowed' money every day supposedly until she found a cashpoint and then she strangely 'forgot' when we reached Burgos. I didn't ask her for it - but took a rest day to lose her thereafter.

Fortunately these people are far outnumbered by the vast majority of kind hearted and generous people.

The litter situation is tragic. I have never actually seen anyone drop litter but the number of plastic water bottles en route proves there are a lot of people who have no qualms about discarding rubbish.

I met a very interesting German man who carried a rubbish bag and wore rubber gloves and collected rubbish everywhere he went. His philosophy was that he wanted to leave everywhere a little better for him having been there and thus give his camino a positive purpose. Admirable.
 

fiddletree

Active Member
I saw some people drop litter on a couple of occasions.... It made me really angry to see that they would do that, and I always picked it up, and chased them down and handed it back to them. Once, a man refused to pick up his candy wrapper that he threw on the ground after I confronted him about it, so I picked it up and carried his trash for him.

Some people do the pilgrimage as a holiday, not as a personal/spiritual/meaningful in some way kind of a journey, and seem to not care so much if they are being disrespectful to other people, the country, and the environment
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Some more for the etiquette list:

• Put phones and alarms on vibrate or turn them off at night, so as to not disturb or wake up your fellow pilgrims. If you MUST make a cell phone call after 9:30 pm at night, please go outside AWAY from the windows where weary pilgrims are sleeping and try to keep your conversation at a low volume and short.
• When leaving or walking through a village very early in the morning, do so quietly. i.e. soft voices, carrying those clicking sticks aloft. Think of tiptoeing by a sleeping host.
• Don't cross people's yards or "assume" it's ok to climb fences without permission. Think about how you would react if they did that in YOUR neighborhood?
• Practice kindness. Share some compeed, food, or water. Offer to help someone over the rocky pass. If you see someone in distress, ask if they need to share their troubles. Then, if you can do so, offer help.
• SMILE when you pass others. Say "Buen camino" or "Buenos Dias!" Look at people in the eye when you pass and SMILE... make contact.
• Offer to cook for the group occasionally. It's a great way to meet people and make friends.
• Don't haggle. Prices along the Camino are already rock bottom low.
• Be friendly, even when the locals are not. Most are wonderful, but some get weary of the trudging, cranky pilgrims. Give them a break and show them you are appreciative.
 
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sillydoll

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
YEAH!! Ban them!
Or, make them sleep sitting up - with a sock in their mouths - preferably outdoors!
Better still, shoot them all!

Seriously - I have come to the conclusion that EVERYBODY snores and that for the majority of people it isn't due to a deformity, or to an obstructive sleep apnea snort for the next breath. It has nothing to do with sleeping on your back casuing your uvula to vibrate, rendering high decible, full throttle growls and snorts. I googled snoring and one website said that most people have:
primary snoring, also known as simple snoring, snoring without sleep apnea, noisy breathing during sleep, benign snoring, rhythmical snoring and continous snoring characterized by loud upper airway breathing sounds in sleep without episodes of apnea (cessation of breath).
I didn't think that I snored but my husband tells me that I 'purr loudly'. (I told him that's because I'm so happy to be sleeping next to him!) Our Labrador snores - and he never sleeps on his back.
One sure way to rid the camino of its hoards and crowds would be to make a rule: NO SNORERS ALLOWED.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Jul-Aug 05, Frances, Jul-Aug 06, Portugues, Oct 2010
I'd agree with all of those points but I'd like to add one of my own.

People listening to personal stereos or mp3 players in bed at night - please turn the volume down so the people near you don't have to listen to it too.

It looks like the main theme running through all of these points is that a small minority of pilgrims need to be more considerate of others.
 

rafferty

Member
If people insist on using those stupid walking poles perhaps they would be good enough to use rubber tips.I was driven to distraction several times by people click-clacking along paths and tarmac when the rest of us were strolling along lost in the moment.By the evidence of my own eyes people don't seem to get the benefits they claim from these poles.I walked the Camino comfortably,without poles,in 24 days.I didn't slip,fall,lose my balance etc at all.I am 60yrs of age next year and have been trekking since the age of 16 yrs without any aids.You will have guessed that walking poles are one of my pet hates.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
I know what you mean about the clicking of the poles. They irritate along with mobile phones, loud iPods and chattering groups behind you on the road. But do you hate them because people click them or because you just hate them? I am over 60 and I love them! Without their aid this year I would have slid in thick mud coming down to Zubiri, slipped in the slush going up to the Alto del Pedron, wobbled on the rocks on the way to El Acebo and skidded on the slate going down to Molinaseca.
Everybody has a preference and an opinion and, everybody's opinion is right - for them.
There are some things pilgrims will always differ on. (Viva la difference!)
Poles or no poles
Raincoats or ponchos
Shoes or boots
Hotels or refuges
One route or another route... etc etc
 

katy06

Member
A very nice old Spanish man gave me a wooden stick in Pampalona - a few days after the pilgrimage began --that really helped me -- especially at the descent from SJPP towards the end ofRoncesvalles I wish I had it then.. Also it gave me balance and calm.. Sometimes when we set off very earlywe can avoid teh crowds.. and sometimes taking a day off helps us find more sensitive pergrinos..
But music and mobiles and alarms.. not to mention rustling plastic bags at 0400 a,m,... Tolerance I guess
 
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Trudy

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(2006) Roncesvalles to Leon (2007) Leon to Compostela
Re: Camino Etiquette/Walking Pole Noise

As I have very poor balance I relied heavily on my walking poles to keep me upright, especially in places like the descent into Zubiri. Wouldn't have made it without support.

However, one think I hate is the clicking of poles, so I keep rubber stoppers on the ends of mine. These do not prevent the poles from getting a grip on rocks, in mud etc, but does stop that really irritating noise. Just wish others would do the same with their poles.
 

fiddletree

Active Member
I thought the double walking poles were stupid and unnecessary until I injured my hip, an ankle, and a foot (opposite side from hurt ankle) on the camino. I had a single walking stick and could barely walk, so I hobbled in excruciating pain every day. Then, one day a friend let me try his double walking poles for a day and I found that walking suddenly wasn't nearly as painful and I could move faster than a very very very slow crawl.

I think it depends on your body, but especially if you are injured, those poles can make a big difference. I am young (23) and thought that I, of all people wouldn't need them, but I was wrong. Plenty of people don't need them and can't possibly understand how they can be useful, but for some people they make they walk possible. Don't dismiss them because you don't need them.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Fiddlesticks said:

No you only think that you would.I have been up more than half of the mountains over 2000ft in Scotland sometimes with people way older than myself.

Excuse me, m'Lord, I think I know what I need and what I don't need! And I had extenuating circumstances for needing the two offending poles.
(1) About 18 months ago I had a condition called Benign positional vertigo (BPV) which has left me with residual attacks of vertigo. I can get woosy going down a flight of stairs.
(1) Walking at about 1500m in the Alps last July (about the height of Ben) we started crossing small glaciers, snow drifts and boggy paths on the way up to the Col. I can assure you that the slipping and sliding was not a frame of mind! High up, in a remote area we came upon a stack of bamboo walking poles with an honesty box next to it. (Must be a steady market for them up there). We each bought one for 5 euro and they proved invaluable when climbing the next 1000m up to the Gr St Bernard which is at 2473m. (Google photos of mountain trekkers and you will see that they nearly always have two poles).
(3) Two months ago I had to resort to walking about 650km of the camino in sandals and although I looked like a crippled crab on crutches, like an old lady on a zimmer, I didn't give a damn. They helped me over all the afore-mentioned rocky inclines and declines and I doubt, no - I know - that I would not have been able to hobble, wobble and walk every inch of the way without them.
 

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Walking Poles - Sil, such lovely pictures and such a calm explanation of why one needs to use what they feel they need. The strong language used on this forum, the intolerance shown, and disapproving comments does not really make the St James walk into a sacred experience. I see no reason why the use of a stick or a staff for the Camino should raise such a hue and cry: concentrate on your own walk and ignore the tapping sound, if this sound is eliminated there will always be something else to irritate you. Peace. Find fulfillment in your walk and not the fault of others.
 
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rafferty

Member
To sillydoll.(1) About 18 months ago I had a condition called Benign positional vertigo (BPV) which has left me with residual attacks of vertigo. I can get woosy going down a flight of stairs.

If you still have these problems perhaps you have not exhausted all possible treatments--many people don't.
There are a number of things to try.Here are two main suggestions.
A.Have you had formal treatment by a physiotherpist teaching you Epley head exercises?
B.Have you been advised to try the habituation exercises.This is where you position yourself in such a way as to induce vertigo but do so in a safe environment.This is very effective and can be done easily and as frequently as necessary?
There are other things to try but these two are very effective.
 

Arn

Veteran Member
Hi Folks,

I've hiked, crawled and slid along some of the most exciting trails in the world and, I'm here to tell ya...the butt heads are everywhere!

We all bring our best and our worst with us, where ever we go. I am not a small man...I have a dominating nature...when roused! There is nothing wrong with recommending to someone a way to modify their actions, such as discarding trash..."Did you accidentally drop this?", making/using noisy equipment..."Ya know, I never really though that rendition of Frosty the Snowman, quite to my liking!" Most folks really are clueless and, once they realize the situation and, get over their initial sheepishness...they fix the problem. Should you ATTACK them...verbally, they will likely become defensive. So, once you've made your point...if they comply...everyone will thank you; but if they don't...do what you can then move on and, please...don't let their foolishness ruin you day or Camino. Hate is a powerful emotion and uses up both physical and mental energy. I for one need all the energy I can muster for the next hill!

Oh, and on the use of walking sticks/pole...I have no binocular vision and I have fallen, quite seriously, well away from immediate assistance. If you determine you need assistance to make your Camino, rather than gut it out and not finish...use what you need.
Buen Camino
Arn
 

vinotinto

Active Member
fiddletree said:
friend let me try his double walking poles for a day and I found that walking suddenly wasn't nearly as painful and I could move faster than a very very very slow crawl.

I think it depends on your body, but especially if you are injured, those poles can make a big difference.

I loved my two Leki trekking poles. They helped my messed-up feet bear the load, and gave me an extra boost when going up hills - especially the wet, rocky ones in Galicia. In addition, I'd like to think they helped give my upper body a workout.

Trudy said:
especially in places like the descent into Zubiri. Wouldn't have made it without support.

I remember that day - ow. My poles were a big help on that descent as well (along with other downhill parts of the Way).

Trudy said:
However, one think I hate is the clicking of poles, so I keep rubber stoppers on the ends of mine. These do not prevent the poles from getting a grip on rocks, in mud etc, but does stop that really irritating noise. Just wish others would do the same with their poles.

I used the rubber stops at first, but I found that the trail wore them down quite quickly so that the metal tips poked through - and they still made the clicking noise (which I found somewhat comforting in deserted stretches).

In addition, a group of pilgrims who saw them on my poles told me that they should only be used to cover the pole tips when not in use (at least I think that's what they told me - we didn't speak each other's lingo too well. But I'm pretty sure that was their point). :arrow:
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Year of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
It's a shame we gotta say it, but here goes.
I spent my lunchtime yesterday with three people who run pilgrim bar/restaurants on the Frances. One topic got a lot of time: the sheer number of people who sit down at a restaurant, order something, and proceed to take off their boots or shoes. Inside or on the terrace, this is just NOT ACCEPTABLE. Doing blister care and First Aid on your feet whilst sitting at a public or private eatery or drinks place is really just NOT ACCEPTABLE. Leaving behind used bandages, tissues, and other very personal litter is just disgusting, but perfectly decent pilgrims continue to do all these things, on a daily basis.
No matter that other people are eating and drinking within a few feet of their fetid feet. No matter that hygiene laws forbid bare feet inside places that serve food. No matter what common sense or decency might dictate.
"This is MY camino, MY feet need a break, I am spending MY MONEY here, so I do what I want," the restaurateurs are told. Fellow diners who raise an eyebrow or drop a hint are treated similarly.
These three mesoneros agree that next season they will post notices that removing shoes and/or socks on the premises is grounds for immediate ejection. I wonder if they'll enforce it?
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
It's a shame we gotta say it, but here goes.
I spent my lunchtime yesterday with three people who run pilgrim bar/restaurants on the Frances. One topic got a lot of time: the sheer number of people who sit down at a restaurant, order something, and proceed to take off their boots or shoes. Inside or on the terrace, this is just NOT ACCEPTABLE. Doing blister care and First Aid on your feet whilst sitting at a public or private eatery or drinks place is really just NOT ACCEPTABLE. Leaving behind used bandages, tissues, and other very personal litter is just disgusting, but perfectly decent pilgrims continue to do all these things, on a daily basis.
No matter that other people are eating and drinking within a few feet of their fetid feet. No matter that hygiene laws forbid bare feet inside places that serve food. No matter what common sense or decency might dictate.
"This is MY camino, MY feet need a break, I am spending MY MONEY here, so I do what I want," the restaurateurs are told. Fellow diners who raise an eyebrow or drop a hint are treated similarly.
These three mesoneros agree that next season they will post notices that removing shoes and/or socks on the premises is grounds for immediate ejection. I wonder if they'll enforce it?


I agree with this 100%. No shirt, no shoes = no service. Americans should be familiar with that sign.

Ultreya,
Joe
 
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