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The big map o the Caminos de Santiago

deciding on best route for my first camino de santiago

Camino(s) past & future
Portugal coastal route..Leaving from Portal June 3rd, 2016. 2nd coastal leaving Porto June 1st, 2018
#1
I am in my early sixties and planning to walk the camino in June 2016 with my best friend. We want to walk a coastal route and are trying decide if we should do part of the norte in Spain or the Portuguese coastal route. We are both active having run several 10k races. Any advice for two women who are 53 & 62 who are walking the santiago for the first time which would be the best route for us?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portugal coastal route..Leaving from Portal June 3rd, 2016. 2nd coastal leaving Porto June 1st, 2018
#4
Thank you.. are routes well marked in Portugal? Safe for two women?
 
Camino(s) past & future
C. Francés (2004-), C. Portugués, C. de Madrid, 1/2 V. Plata, 1/8 Levante, hospitalera Grado 2016.
#5
I walked from Porto to Santiago with my husband and som a few years ago amd would gladly walk the same route again alone. It's well marked, Portuguese people are friendly (and the percentage who speak English is higher than in Spain, should that be a consideration), and the food is glorious.

In general, ALL the Caminos are safe, compared to the cities most of us live in. The most dangerous thing that happens to most people, is crossing the road after walking on footpaths for a few hours - you forget how fast a car can move!

Have a good walk!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portugal coastal route..Leaving from Portal June 3rd, 2016. 2nd coastal leaving Porto June 1st, 2018
#6
I walked from Porto to Santiago with my husband and som a few years ago amd would gladly walk the same route again alone. It's well marked, Portuguese people are friendly (and the percentage who speak English is higher than in Spain, should that be a consideration), and the food is glorious.

In general, ALL the Caminos are safe, compared to the cities most of us live in. The most dangerous thing that happens to most people, is crossing the road after walking on footpaths for a few hours - you forget how fast a car can move!

Have a good walk!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portugal coastal route..Leaving from Portal June 3rd, 2016. 2nd coastal leaving Porto June 1st, 2018
#7
Thank you! Can you tell me if there any problems with long distances between places to stay as mentioned in a previous thread.
 
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#8
Faye, you are a youngster! As long as you are in reasonably good health and conditioning, you will have no problems. Walking alone is possible. You can always pick up daily walking companions. Just ask others if you can "tag along." Also, Heidi (above) is correct about markings and safety.

The Camino Frances and Camino Portuguese are (statistically) the two most used routes. Both are well marked. Cafes and villages are well spaced. You are rarely more than 3 - 5 Km from a place to stop and refresh. One point, I walked the"Coastal Route" from Porto to Santiago in April 2015. The first three days are not as frequented as the inland (main) route from Porto. But, it is relative, as there are a lot fewer pilgrims on the Portuguese than the Frances.

My recommendation for first-timers is the Camino Frances. It is the most used, there are always other pilgrims around, there are frequent places to stop, and there is more information available, as well as commercial assistance services available (mochila transport, taxis, buses, etc.) on this route. Large towns and cities with medical services are also found more frequently on the Frances. It is the most user-friendly of the routes, IMHO.

Some pilgrims prefer other routes for just the same reasons. The things that attract larger numbers of pilgrims annually, do not appeal to all pilgrims. Many repeat pilgrims look for the relative, undeveloped state and low usage of the other routes. But, these can be challenging. For this reason, I do not recommend them for a first-timer.

I hope this helps.
 

Kurt5280

Crazy Enough To Try It Again!
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: SJPDP to Finisterre & Muxia 9/15 (MTB) - Norte: Bayonne to Muxia & Finisterre 9/18 (MTB)
#9
I did the Camino Frances solo in September 2015 and I never had any problems and of all the pilgrims I met only one pilgrim had a problem in a small albergue in Roncesvalles...Spain is extremely safe and these people are the most honest people that I have ever met in the world...I don't know if it is just their culture, the Spanish laws protecting the pilgrims, the fact that camino financially supports many of these small towns, or their respect for religion as part of their heritage in Spain...the advantages of the Camino Frances is that you are never alone and on the worst day if you fell down on the trail someone would find you in an hour...the problem with the Camino Frances is that it is becoming more commercial every year with bus tours, taxis, and pack transfer services everywhere which can make your journey easier but creates a hierarchy of pilgrims on the camino...I did the Camino Frances solo from SJPDP to Muxia on a mountain bike riding the hiking trail and I hear all the time that I did not hike the camino but those people don't know me and understand that I am just lucky to have made the journey at all...but then I saw a man pushing a wheelchair through the desert so maybe I am setting my expectations of myself too low...regardless my opinion of the Camino Frances is that it can be brutal in places between Pamplona and Leon so in some places in the desert there were only five types of people that I met which included ex-military, triatheletes, cancer survivors, individuals dealing with serious personal issues, and young adventurers...basically mostly pilgrims that survived some very serious situations in their lives and find the difficulties of the camino spiritually cathartic...I am a cancer survivor and the isolation and difficulties of the Camino Frances is nothing compared to spending 33-days in an isolation room...also the Camino Frances is a weight loss program because the type and availability of food is difficult some days...if I were to hike the Camino Frances in the future I would start in Leon and hike to Santiago and spend the remaining time hiking the lesser traveled trails to Finisterre and Muxia which to me was the "real camino" like it use to be before all of the commercial services...also I am planning to do the Camino del Norte in 2017 and my expectation is to struggle more, be away from all of the commercial services, enjoy the scenery and good seafood on a lesser traveled trail, and I am already familiar with all support services to get me to my starting location for my next journey...but for a first time camino I do not have any problems recommending the Camino Portugues from Lisbon to Santiago based on the personal experiences of other local pilgrims that I know...the advantages are that it is less traveled so the local people are more helpful, the trail is well marked and there is a Brierley book to support your journey with detailed maps and information, there are no significant hill climbs, and the pictures of the seafood are like nothing I have seen in the world...I hope to do the Camino Portugues with my wife some day because it would be the best option for a couples journey based on our abilities...also the majority of pilgrims on the Camino Frances are young Europeans under 30-years old and retired pilgrims over 65-years old so you are middle-age for the camino and in very good physical condition...and lastly the Camino Portugues has the reputation of being the "family camino" which is most suitable for a multi-generation family camino experience.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Inglés 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#10
@Kurt Huffman There are a few points in your, otherwise excellent, post that could lead to misconceptions for people that have never walked the CF before.

The albergue in Roncesvalles is far from small, it has 180+ beds. The pilgrim you mentioned most likely had problems to find a room in one of the hotels/pensions in Roncesvalles as they are open to everybody, not only pilgrims, and tend to book out quickly.

There is no desert on the CF, you most likely mean the meseta, which can be challenging, but hardly qualifies as a desert. Also thousands and thousands of people walk that stretch every year and most of them are just normally fit people, not triathletes.

Buen Camino, SY
 

Kurt5280

Crazy Enough To Try It Again!
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: SJPDP to Finisterre & Muxia 9/15 (MTB) - Norte: Bayonne to Muxia & Finisterre 9/18 (MTB)
#11
Agree...when I use the term "Desert" I live in Colorado I am referring to the "Great American Desert" which is the "High Plains"...basically the "Meseta" is an area similar to Eastern Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, 0r Northwest Texas...and the Spanish word "Meseta" literally translates to "plateau" or "high plains"...also in Roncesvalles I had an excellent experience in Guest House La Posada and you will recognize this building from the movie but I would stay away from Guest House Casa Sabina based on reviews from several pilgrims that stayed or ate at this establishment (my only negative review of any establishment of the Camino Frances)...otherwise my personal experience in the Meseta included saying "Welcome home!" to more Vietnam veterans (mostly airborne) than I normally do in a year in the USA...the Meseta is not about physical ability but it is about mental determination...an older pilgrim asked me why I did not give up and take a bus to Burgos and I responded, "I am too stupid to give up."...but if I can physically make it through the Meseta anyone with the right mental determination can make it too and that includes the man pushing the wheelchair...lastly for camino preparation and guide books I recommend any of the Pilgrim's Guides by John Brierly, Seven Tips to Make the Most of the Camino de Santiago by Cheri Powell, and Pilgrim Tips & Packing List Camino de Santiago by Sybille Yates (author above...I just wanted let you know that I read your book...and thank you for the compliment).
 
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#12
SYates - I just noticed the moniker under your avatar "Camino Fossil..." I am impressed and much humored... Thank you for the laugh.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Inglés 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#13
SYates - I just noticed the moniker under your avatar "Camino Fossil..." I am impressed and much humored... Thank you for the laugh.
As some fossils are - I might be out of date and not relevant anymore ... As most fossils - I don't care ;-) [Insert bright, happy grin here please] Buen Camino, SY
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portugal coastal route..Leaving from Portal June 3rd, 2016. 2nd coastal leaving Porto June 1st, 2018
#14
I did the Camino Frances solo in September 2015 and I never had any problems and of all the pilgrims I met only one pilgrim had a problem in a small albergue in Roncesvalles...Spain is extremely safe and these people are the most honest people that I have ever met in the world...I don't know if it is just their culture, the Spanish laws protecting the pilgrims, the fact that camino financially supports many of these small towns, or their respect for religion as part of their heritage in Spain...the advantages of the Camino Frances is that you are never alone and on the worst day if you fell down on the trail someone would find you in an hour...the problem with the Camino Frances is that it is becoming more commercial every year with bus tours, taxis, and pack transfer services everywhere which can make your journey easier but creates a hierarchy of pilgrims on the camino...I did the Camino Frances solo from SJPDP to Muxia on a mountain bike riding the hiking trail and I hear all the time that I did not hike the camino but those people don't know me and understand that I am just lucky to have made the journey at all...but then I saw a man pushing a wheelchair through the desert so maybe I am setting my expectations of myself too low...regardless my opinion of the Camino Frances is that it can be brutal in places between Pamplona and Leon so in some places in the desert there were only five types of people that I met which included ex-military, triatheletes, cancer survivors, individuals dealing with serious personal issues, and young adventurers...basically mostly pilgrims that survived some very serious situations in their lives and find the difficulties of the camino spiritually cathartic...I am a cancer survivor and the isolation and difficulties of the Camino Frances is nothing compared to spending 33-days in an isolation room...also the Camino Frances is a weight loss program because the type and availability of food is difficult some days...if I were to hike the Camino Frances in the future I would start in Leon and hike to Santiago and spend the remaining time hiking the lesser traveled trails to Finisterre and Muxia which to me was the "real camino" like it use to be before all of the commercial services...also I am planning to do the Camino del Norte in 2017 and my expectation is to struggle more, be away from all of the commercial services, enjoy the scenery and good seafood on a lesser traveled trail, and I am already familiar with all support services to get me to my starting location for my next journey...but for a first time camino I do not have any problems recommending the Camino Portugues from Lisbon to Santiago based on the personal experiences of other local pilgrims that I know...the advantages are that it is less traveled so the local people are more helpful, the trail is well marked and there is a Brierley book to support your journey with detailed maps and information, there are no significant hill climbs, and the pictures of the seafood are like nothing I have seen in the world...I hope to do the Camino Portugues with my wife some day because it would be the best option for a couples journey based on our abilities...also the majority of pilgrims on the Camino Frances are young Europeans under 30-years old and retired pilgrims over 65-years old so you are middle-age for the camino and in very good physical condition...and lastly the Camino Portugues has the reputation of being the "family camino" which is most suitable for a multi-generation family camino experience.
I did the Camino Frances solo in September 2015 and I never had any problems and of all the pilgrims I met only one pilgrim had a problem in a small albergue in Roncesvalles...Spain is extremely safe and these people are the most honest people that I have ever met in the world...I don't know if it is just their culture, the Spanish laws protecting the pilgrims, the fact that camino financially supports many of these small towns, or their respect for religion as part of their heritage in Spain...the advantages of the Camino Frances is that you are never alone and on the worst day if you fell down on the trail someone would find you in an hour...the problem with the Camino Frances is that it is becoming more commercial every year with bus tours, taxis, and pack transfer services everywhere which can make your journey easier but creates a hierarchy of pilgrims on the camino...I did the Camino Frances solo from SJPDP to Muxia on a mountain bike riding the hiking trail and I hear all the time that I did not hike the camino but those people don't know me and understand that I am just lucky to have made the journey at all...but then I saw a man pushing a wheelchair through the desert so maybe I am setting my expectations of myself too low...regardless my opinion of the Camino Frances is that it can be brutal in places between Pamplona and Leon so in some places in the desert there were only five types of people that I met which included ex-military, triatheletes, cancer survivors, individuals dealing with serious personal issues, and young adventurers...basically mostly pilgrims that survived some very serious situations in their lives and find the difficulties of the camino spiritually cathartic...I am a cancer survivor and the isolation and difficulties of the Camino Frances is nothing compared to spending 33-days in an isolation room...also the Camino Frances is a weight loss program because the type and availability of food is difficult some days...if I were to hike the Camino Frances in the future I would start in Leon and hike to Santiago and spend the remaining time hiking the lesser traveled trails to Finisterre and Muxia which to me was the "real camino" like it use to be before all of the commercial services...also I am planning to do the Camino del Norte in 2017 and my expectation is to struggle more, be away from all of the commercial services, enjoy the scenery and good seafood on a lesser traveled trail, and I am already familiar with all support services to get me to my starting location for my next journey...but for a first time camino I do not have any problems recommending the Camino Portugues from Lisbon to Santiago based on the personal experiences of other local pilgrims that I know...the advantages are that it is less traveled so the local people are more helpful, the trail is well marked and there is a Brierley book to support your journey with detailed maps and information, there are no significant hill climbs, and the pictures of the seafood are like nothing I have seen in the world...I hope to do the Camino Portugues with my wife some day because it would be the best option for a couples journey based on our abilities...also the majority of pilgrims on the Camino Frances are young Europeans under 30-years old and retired pilgrims over 65-years old so you are middle-age for the camino and in very good physical condition...and lastly the Camino Portugues has the reputation of being the "family camino" which is most suitable for a multi-generation family camino experience.
Thank you!!
We did decide to walk the Portuguese coastal route starting in Porto to santiago. We are excited to start this journey.
 

Kurt5280

Crazy Enough To Try It Again!
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: SJPDP to Finisterre & Muxia 9/15 (MTB) - Norte: Bayonne to Muxia & Finisterre 9/18 (MTB)
#16
Enjoy your adventure...if you have any additional time hike or take the bus tour to Finisterre and Muxia...if the reason for your camino is religious I recommend the nightly Special Pilgrim Service (best in English so ask the person at the entrance) in the small chapel at the cathedral in Santiago...also the Botafumeiro is the best show in town in Santiago...and a pilgrim can sponsor the Botafumeiro for any Mass at a cost of 350 Euros and you have to request it at the Pilgrim Office...Buen Camino.
 



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