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Eight reasons why Pamplona is a great starting point for the CF

Discussion in 'Camino Frances' started by PANO, Dec 9, 2013.

  1. PANO

    PANO Active Member

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    Many threads on this forum deal with SJPDP as THE Camino starting point (11.5 % of the Pilgrims start from there), how to reach the place and about the strain and perils of crossing the Pyrenees. Are there any historic reasons that compel some Pelegrinos to even take taxis from Pamplona toward «the wrong direction» in order to commence in SJPDP?
    Imho, these eight reasons would rather speak for Pamplona:
    1. - In easy reach by air and by train from Madrid, Barcelona, Biarritz, Bilbao.
    2. - A choice of 100 accommodation-options in every category, with several albergues and places to obtain Credencials
    3. - A perfect place to shake off the jet lag and to acclimatize to Northern Spain
    4. - To do last minute shopping (SIM cards, electric adaptors, medicines, banks, etc)
    5. - To have direct postal services (to forward luggage to Santiago)
    6. - Offering great sightseeing; this town has a beautiful medieval centre, an impressive Citadel, the Cathedral, Spain’s second largest bullring and many spots of interest.
    7. - A great gastronomy, wines and lots of parks
    8. - Getting an easy start of the Camino

    Any opinions?
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2013
  2. alexwalker

    alexwalker Forever Pilgrim Donating Member

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    Pano, I agree with you.

    I started my Camino in Pamplona in 2009. I had planned to take taxi/bus to SJPD, but when I arrived in the evening, I walked to the albergue, got my credential and a bed, and the next morning, as pilgrims walked out, I thought: "What the heck: Start walking!" And so I did. I never regretted it. Next year, I will be starting from Pamplona again: Easy to go to Barcelona by plane, 5 hours busride to Pamplona, and then walk out next morning. Or maybe stay in Pamplona 2 days? One thing I know, though: I will not participate in the bed race: Walking odd distances, stopping earlier, relaxing, and not worrying. If needed, sleep on a bench or in a field.

    Well, easy for me to say, as I am retired, and will arrive on the Camino without a return ticket: I go home when my Camino is finished, not before. No schedule.
     
  3. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    We started in Pamplona for our first trip, and I totally agree. SJPP is sort of crazy----there is no historical reason to start there, logistics are tough, and the first day has a bit of uphill.

    The second trip we started in LePuy, from the cathedral which Godescalc left in 951 when he initiated the whole deal.
     
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  4. fraluchi

    fraluchi Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Yes:
    9) Excellent pinchos (tapas) in its local bars and
    10) a most competent organist and choir in its cathedral.
    not necessarily in this order.:(
     
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  5. DesertRain

    DesertRain Member

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    Amen. At least to #9. Especially on Thursdays (at least in 2011) when you could get a pintxo and glass of wine for 2 euros. In the pedestrian streets around the pintxo bars, there were small groups of college kids, elderly couples walking arm in arm, families with small children playing soccer.... Life was happening in the streets. Pamplona is yet another great example of the wonderfully lively and livable mid-sized cities spread across Spain.

    Pamplona will be the starting point of my next Camino. And why not? SJDPD is in no way an "official" or "authentic" starting point for the Camino. According to the Authentic Pilgrim's Guide™ (http://www.caminodesantiago.me/comm...lgrims™-guide-to-the-camino.12810/#post-86176), there is only one authentic starting starting point. And although I did meet a few people who started from their front door (a beret-wearing elderly gentleman from Luxembourg and a little person from Germany), most of the rest of us choose an arbitrary staring point and make it ours. Pamplona is a great one.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2013
  6. Bajaracer

    Bajaracer Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre

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    The Thursday night pintxos come with your choice of wine, beer, or bottled water were still €2 in Jun. 2013, I went with a group of four women and myself, we stopped at five different pintxos bars and each of us bought a round for €10, after five rounds we were full and happy.
    If you can time passing through Pamplona on a Thursday, you won't regret it.
     
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  7. mralisn

    mralisn Active Member

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    "Juevepincho"…what an experience.

    I like starting in SJPdP and walking over the mountain. It's good for me.

    ¡Salud!
    Simeon
     
  8. DesertRain

    DesertRain Member

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    Oh! Another reason for Pamplona.... the only La Liga team on the entire Camino Frances (Osasuna) plays there. You may even get a chance to see Barçelona (for fans of the Republic) or Real Madrid (for..... ummmm.... fans of the.... errrr..... Nationalists?).
     
  9. Sharni

    Sharni Active Member

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    The posts extolling the virtues of Pamplona are not proving it's the best place to start from, they are merely proving its a great place to go to.

    Most towns/villages along the Camino have great aspects to them - my advice to future Pilgrims is to start where you want to and listen with an open mind.

    Buen Camino
     
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  10. Laliibeans

    Laliibeans Active Member

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    SJPP was my mum's choice, but I like the feeling that we are going to walk from one border right to the sea. It has a nice well-rounded feel to it.
    And I must agree with Sharni, you can do pretty much all of those things in SJPP, too.
     
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  11. Al the optimist

    Al the optimist Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Drop me right now anywhere on the Camino to start and I would be happier than sitting here missing being there
     
  12. santiago_67

    santiago_67 Active Member

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    Al, I feel exactly the same.
     
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  13. Pelegrin

    Pelegrin Veteran Member Donating Member

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    . You may even get a chance to see Barçelona (for fans of the Republic) or Real Madrid (for..... ummmm.... fans of the.... errrr..... Nationalists?).[/quote]

    Very confusing options. I would say, Barcelona (for fans of Messi) and R.Madrid (for fans of Cristiano).
     
  14. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    I deleted my post, because it had a quote of a deleted post...

    OK, back to Pamplona. In Pamplona, you can start under the statue of Ernest Hemmingway.......A strong statue, a statue of a man. The kind of honest and strong man who would be glad to have a beer with. A real beer, dark, with sediment in the bottom. And after six or ten of those beers, you could go off to a clean and well lighted place to eat some beef. Spanish beef, the kind that comes from the lines of great bulls..

    ernest.JPG
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2013
  15. as gaillimh

    as gaillimh Active Member

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    Is there a full moon by any chance, it can move oceans so what can it do to our brain !! Buen camino where ever you start
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2013
  16. ivar

    ivar Administrator Staff Member Donating Member

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    This thread has been moderated, several posts has been removed.

    Please feel free to continue the conversation that the OP started (why/why not Pamplona is a good starting point). If this does not interest you, please move on.

    Greetings from Santiago,
    Ivar
     
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  17. billmclaughlin

    billmclaughlin Active Member

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    You point is well taken, though I'd note that many of the reasons you propose can also be enjoyed by simply spending an extra day in Pamplona.

    My route took me through Paris (that's where I adjust to the time change), so SJPP was on the way to Spain in any case. Two points:

    1. I'd say the adventure of the train ride from Bayonne surrounded by your fellow trekkers should not be discounted.

    2. Crossing the French-Spanish border still has a certain magic. I suppose not all will share it, and it's not the boundary it was before the EC, but it was one reason for my "start" in Bayonne and SJPP.

    On a related note, I'll add that I don't quite get the enthusiasm some have for SJPP itself. I've now passed through twice without being tempted to stay more than a few hours.

    --Bill
     
  18. Lockslay

    Lockslay Orlando Sixto Donating Member

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    Hey, nice one - I will start my first one in Sep 30th of 2014 from SJPdP, so I will probably review my comments then. For now, those are my remarks for each point:

    1. No discussions - it depends on how you take it. I do prefer to believe for now that I will start my Camino when I leave home and any difficulty will test my determination. Taking the bus from Pamplona to SJPdP will probably prove to be a challenge by itself.
    2. SJPdP has also enough accommodations as far as I can see
    3. As far as I can see, weather is not so different from SJPdP - but Pamplona is a big city, and if I want to get "acclimatized" with the Camino, I think SJPdP allows you to disconnect a little from the life of a big city, preparing you to an ancient experience
    4. I don't think it's difficult to find those in SJPdP but someone who is comparing where is the best place to start, for sure has been preparing him/herself so, those little things, will for sure be in their backpack already;
    5. Well, this is interesting. You can only know if you are overloaded and carrying things that you don't need if you had the opportunity to walk, at least for two or three days with your original load - why should I want to use that postal service in my very first day without even knowing that I'm heavy? If I start in Pamplona and realize I'm too heavy, I will then have to wait for the next big city, more than three days ahead of Pamplona.
    6. I would surely miss the view from the top of the Pyrenees. Nothing better than nature sightseeing, don't you think?!
    7. I guess in France we can eat well and find a good wine
    8. Well, that's true - I don't have any reason to disagree with that.
     
  19. alexwalker

    alexwalker Forever Pilgrim Donating Member

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    Yes, I cxan relate to that, and maybe I'll start from SJPdP next spring, just for the border crossing. But I am not a hardliner, and Pamplona is a great starting point, for many reasons.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2013
  20. Thornley

    Thornley Veteran Member

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    Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
    Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
    Pano ,
    Please read with a smile,
    Le Puy which is a* true french starting point. * = here they come in later postings.
    [1] Fly into Lyon from Paris and short train trip to Le Puy.
    [2] 100's of places to stay, beautiful private service at 7 am in cathedral with small crowds for departing each day , same place for credentials
    [3] The jet lag disappears when walking to the top of the city mate , which is on arrival....and there are some lovely pensions at the 5 ,10 and 15km mark first day.
    [4] Great shopping and all facilities
    [5] NO baggage forwarded as NEW clothes purchased after camino.
    [6] When reaching the pyrenees you can take the easy way over from STJPP or the harder way via Samport.....or divert to the strenuous way and walk to Bayonne and then to to San Sebastian on the Norte.....that is the hard way mate believe me.
    [7] A wonderful city for food as nearby Lyon is regarded as the food capital of france [ It was also the first capital of France ]
    [8] From the cathedral you see a beautiful straight road which turns into a path...this from the steps of the cathedral...walk and enjoy the first few days....they change quickly.

    The downside Pano is the orange phone you got 5 weeks ago in Le Puy is no longer working in Spain........new sim mate.

    Take your time , take it all in , keep your solitude and enjoy this / these wonderful paths.
     
  21. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    godescalc.JPG
     
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  22. Saint Mike II

    Saint Mike II Vetran Member Donating Member

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    Camino Frances is still in front of me and I want to finish the VDLP sometime soon. But having read most of the books, seen the movie and read the now countless posts St Jean is my intended starting point. Whether I travel from Madrid (via Pamplona) is a long way in the distance, but I do know that when I start from St Jean it will be early in the morning, so that I can reach Roncesvalles well before dark. The "tips" in favour of Pamplona are very useful and maybe I will have a stopover before moving on to St Jena - to forward my other travelling bag and to stock up on anything I have forgotten. Buen Camino:rolleyes:
     
  23. Thornley

    Thornley Veteran Member

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    Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
    Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
    **Thank you Newfrdog , I will now rest easy .

    In May 08 we arrived in St.JPP .......the next day we went to Valcarlos.....why??...........fog , mist , rain and no sights going via mountain.
    The town of Valcarlos was wonderful in their treatment of pilgrims that night.........a great evening.
    We walked the next day to Burgette and propped in a beautiful pension , 25e/night , still drenched from the continuing rain.
    Deep soaking bath, paper stuffed in shoes by owner in front of open fire...... then directions to the bar that in that year, yes 08, had barred smoking in the bar/cafe...great night

    Starting in Le Puy in 2010 , after 800km on foot, we bypassed both STJPP and Roncesvalles after commencing 4km early in Saint-Jean le Vieux .
    It was an early start , early breakfast [ hot bread] in STJPP , lunch on the top [ the remainder of the baguette] and then a very slow walk into Burgette .
    It was a 30km plus day and a renewal of a friendship that evening will still have today.

    Starting in France from Navarrenx, Aroue , St Palais or Ostabat we would recommend to anyone with time on their side.
    There would be no reason to then stay in Orisson.

    What has this got to do with commencing Pamplona Pano ?
    Start where you like and do not for one moment think ** Brierely's book is gospel ** here they come again lol
     
  24. amancio

    amancio Active Member

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    Pamplona is GORGEOUS, but to me, those charms are even better after two or three days of pilgrimage, when your body is aching and you need comfort (pintxos, vino, an organ concert in the cathedral would be something gorgeous too, a visit to the church of Saint Nicolas, sipping a beer at Plaza del Castillo). And after two or three days of walking, you will realize that you may have forgotten to buy something and you can catch up. I LOVE PAMPLONA!!!!
     
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  25. 7wood

    7wood Member

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    The only problem with starting in St.Jean Pied de Port is that it is in France :cool:;)
     
  26. PANO

    PANO Active Member

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    Hola, to all of you so graciously responding in this thread, I tremendously enjoy the diversity of your posts.

    Praising Pamplona is my way of saying 'thank you' to this lovely town and its people for the warm welcome I received on my first arrival day on the Camino; I meant to vote for Pamplona and certainly not against any other starting point.

    Many threads on this site deal with logistic questions concerning SJPdP, of how to get there, of SIM cards (those purchased in France are not very good in Spain), of electric connectors, of different languages, etc., indicating that prospective (overseas-) pilgrims are often challenged to start their journey in a place hard to find on the map and in a country substantially different from Spain. Not to omit the steep physical challenge of crossing the Pyrenees often ending up in injuries causing a return to home when the journey has barely started.

    To them, –not to the savvy backpackers and globetrotters –, I wanted to point out that there is nothing written in any scripture, that they could simplify things substantially by starting in Pamplona. (And yes, the same goes for Burgos, Leon, Sarria…..except that the Camino still retains much of its awesome length from Pamplona)

    As for myself, knowing my neighbouring country France well enough, I wanted my Camino to be an entirely Spanish experience; but I absolutely understand others seeking exactly the opposite, a «multinational experience». There, I however would join Thornley’s and Newfydog’s thesis to start in Le Puy to get a real taste of France. (Be aware of the added distance to SdC, though!)

    Thank you once again for a lively discussion!

    Pierre aka Don Pedro
     
  27. amancio

    amancio Active Member

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    actually, a particular issue about SIM cards; European mobile phone system does not favour roaming from one country to another. A French SIM card is not a good idea if you are going to spend a month in Spain. In fact, it is a terrible idea, rates and services will be awful, you really want to get a Spanish SIM card for the Camino, I am afraid.
     
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  28. annakappa

    annakappa Veteran Member

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    I also love Pamplona. I have never had the ambition to start in SJPP, because for one thing, I couldn't see the necessity of traveling from Madrid, ( with jet lag, etc. ) where we always arrive to go to SJPP, only to walk back again. Also, when I first surfed the web for information on the Camino, Roncesvalles always came up. It seemed the correct place to start. We have also started once from Jaca ( again without going over the border, to come back).
    That time we had an extra day in Pamplona, waiting for the late afternoon bus to Jaca, we were befriended by a local man who, like us, was taking a stroll on the Ciudadela. After talking a while, he asked us what we had planned for the rest of the morning." Nothing particular", was our reply. He said that he would be happy to show us around. He took us to secret corners of Pamplona. Filled us in with history of his, obviously much loved town. We spent a fantastic morning and were sad to say goodbye. (He had to be back home sharp at 1.15 pm, when his wife would have lunch ready)!
    I understand the logistics for people arriving from the North of Europe, or, of course in France itself. Also crossing the border probably means something for people who live so far away from a national border. We used to live in South Switzerland, just over 1 km from the border to Italy, so it's no big deal for me to cross a border. I used to bike over to do my shopping. Also in Europe now, there is not much of an evidence of where the borders actually are! Thank you Pano, for praising this lovely town! Anne
     
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  29. Kiwi-family

    Kiwi-family Veteran Member

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    Astorga to Santiago (2012); Baztan, Voie de la Nive, Frances to Leon, Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra and back (2014); Oxfam Trailwalkers NZ (2015); Portuguese from Porto (June 2015); Via de la Plata/Sanabres (May/June 2016)
    I'm just wondering: if this thread had been titled "Eight reasons why starting from Pamplon is a GREAT option" (rather than the best), might the animosity have been avoided?
     
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  30. Thornley

    Thornley Veteran Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
    Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
    Animosity , heavy words neighbour.
    *A feeling of ill will or violent dislike????
    Maybe one article that Ivar banished but i find it very hard to see any of the above*
     
  31. falcon269

    falcon269 sidra; no commercial interests

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    If it is true that the animosity is always there just under the surface, will not taking a stand really avoid it?:)
     
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  32. DeliaClark

    DeliaClark New Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Camino Frances May/June (2014)
    Hi all! I have been lurking on this forum for almost half a year, planning my first Camino for early this spring. I was delighted to read this post, as after much reading, pondering, worrying and dreaming, I had come to the conclusion that Pamplona would be my starting point. I am thrilled to hear that I'm not crazy to have decided this. My reasons were:
    - Avoid the Pyrenees in late February/early March when weather may be iffy
    - Avoid a steep start in my less than optimum conditioning
    - Shorten the trip so I can take my time but still fit it into the 37 (with travel) days I've managed to get off from work
    - Keep it all about Spain
    Thanks for the encouragement!
     
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  33. John and Mandi

    John and Mandi New Member

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    Great question!

    I personally think the original post, including the title, was a direct reflection of how PANO feels and was spot on. It was also quite clear that this was his opinion, which is always the case in any form of communication. Whether I agree or disagree, well, that's what was requested as the discussion. As someone who has not completed a Camino it is quite valuable to read why others think things are beneficial or to the contrary. I also love it when someone is passionate about their belief, which is all an opinion really is.

    We feel that the challenge of the Pyrenees will be worth it but that doesn't mean we won't skip it when we get there. We really love mountains which plays a big part of why we want to include them. Our original plan was to only do the CF but when we started costing it out it seemed smarter to stay in Europe longer to offset the flights. Spending more to have a lower monthly average sounds like good old government accounting but this trip will be our first in Europe and also a kick-off of our sabbatical. If we were still considering just the CF we'd be debating the starting point and Pamplona would definitely be on the list. I think a nice trip would be from Pamplona to the coast then ride back to reverse the Pyrenees spending any extra days around there.

    -John
     
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  34. newfydog

    newfydog Veteran Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay

    AHHH!!! I don't know how many people can't seem to get that concept. I guess in planning they mainly see covering the distance as the goal. They have a map in front of them, but the castle above Castrojeriz, the Roman mosaics of Astorga, the stained glass of Leon, the farm villages of Galicia, are not right there to work into the plans. Many of our best days were the days we quit early or declared a rest day and just explored. You will have a great trip!
     
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  35. PANO

    PANO Active Member

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    2013 Pamplona to SdC, 2014 Pamplona to Logroño, (heatstroke)
    You are right, in hindsight I would change the title; I would edit it now, if I could. On the other hand, my starting-choice was BEST for me at the time and I was merely trying to share my reasons with future peregrinos, politely. If this caused animosity, it is time to start twice about posting on this site; sad, for it is an invaluable source of information for any new peregrino.
    Thankfully, Ivar eliminated some of the violent postings.
     
    susanawee likes this.
  36. Susannafromsweden

    Susannafromsweden Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Via de la Plata 2010, Camino de Madrid, Salvador, Primitivo 2013, Olvidado, Invierno 2014
    The thread title is now changed. :)
    Susanna/Mod.
     
  37. PANO

    PANO Active Member

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    2013 Pamplona to SdC, 2014 Pamplona to Logroño, (heatstroke)
    tack så mycket Susanna
     
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  38. Kiwi-family

    Kiwi-family Veteran Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Astorga to Santiago (2012); Baztan, Voie de la Nive, Frances to Leon, Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra and back (2014); Oxfam Trailwalkers NZ (2015); Portuguese from Porto (June 2015); Via de la Plata/Sanabres (May/June 2016)
    On reflection, maybe "Eight reasons why Pamplona was the best starting point for PANO" would be even better ;-)
    Although, as it stands, it probably is more of an invitation to others to consider it for themselves.

    Falcon, I do agree that if animosity is simmering under the surface it is likely to explode....but then again a wise man once said, "A gentle answer turns away wrath" and so the way we phrase things can have an impact on others.
    When I read the OP it was clear to me that is was someone sharing a wonderful experience and I did not even consider saying "you should moderate your enthusiasm by adding -it was best for me but might not be for you". Wouldn't have dreamed of it. In fact, it appears that most people understood the original intent. BUT somehow something went wrong and that got me to thinking about whether it could have been averted. Maybe these flare-ups are always going to happen. It's just a bit sad, because it makes what is otherwise a very valuable resource, a somewhat uncomfortable place at times.
     
  39. Lockslay

    Lockslay Orlando Sixto Donating Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Oct 2014 will be my first with my son at my side
    Dear Pano, well understood since the beginning - it was really fun to answer to your "Any opinions!?" - sad that people cannot simply play with that ... Tks!!!!!
     
    PANO and wayfarer like this.
  40. Thornley

    Thornley Veteran Member

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    Location:
    Melbourne/Australia
    Camino(s) past & future:
    Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
    Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
    Now off to Le Puy in 2014/5 Pano
    Safe and happy Christmas mate.
     
    PANO likes this.

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